Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring is in the air -- the cranes are returning north

The Cranes Are Returning North
The faraway flock of what I thought were Canada Geese caught my eye as they flew above distant treetops. Only when I was reviewing my images did I realize they were Sandhill Cranes. I've never seen so many flying together. Usually, around here we see pairs. These magnificent creatures have been doing this for millions of years, pretty much the same route. Perhaps the closest living relatives of the pterodactyls.

Note: I wasn't the only observer. There's a small bird in the tree on the left. And then there's the mysterious bird at the upper right. I was going to crop it out to tighten the composition and come in in more closely, but the more I look at it, the more interesting it seems. Hard to imagine how it could be a crane. My guess is that, so big and flying so high, it's probably a hawk, its wings raised at the start of a beat, tail fanning out below. Wonder what it thought.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Frigid morning's Avian love on Wingra Creek

Avian Love on Wingra Creek
Two Canada Geese, framed by morning mist rising from an icy Wingra Creek near the entrance to the Arboretum (note the hanging ice that seems to attach the lower branches to the creek).

This pair of geese was taking part in what seemed to be some sort of mating ritual. Facing each other, they took turns dunking their heads under water, as if feeding -- first one, then the other, over and over. About every third repetition of the sequence, they would come together and touch beaks. Were they feeding each other? Or was it a kiss?

Thursday, March 12, 2009


In the wake of the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing that was targeted at the Army Mathematics Research Center housed in one part of Sterling Hall, AMRC moved to another building on the UW campus not long after -- the appropriately isolated and fortress-like Wisconsin Alumni Research Center building shown here. Demonstrations continued for several years (eventually, AMRC moved to Cornell in 1985), and at one of the demonstrations protesters attempted to levitate the building -- as had been attempted, without success, at the Pentagon earlier. The day I took this photo, nearly four decades later, it briefly looked as if they had succeeded after all.

Spring snow in Owen Conservation Park

Snow in Owen Park
Sunday's spring snowstorm in Owen Park on Madison's west side. Yes, I know -- it's not spring yet according to the calendar. But with all the warm weather we've had, the melting snow, and the rain that preceded Sunday's snow -- it felt like spring. (Best viewed Large to see the snowflakes.) I've been too busy to get them all up until now, but now I have a series of snow pictures from Owen Park posted as a Flickr set.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Springing forward back to winter in Owen Park

Snow Falling in Owen Conservation Park Later in the Day
We switched to Daylight Saving Time yesterday, and the "Wrong Way" sign in Owen Park pretty much summed it up. Instead of springing forward, the way the saying goes, we seemed to be heading back to winter, with the weather unspooling backwards over the whole weekend -- first Saturday's fog, then rain all day Sunday, followed by snow later in the day. Normally the angle of the sun and other visual cues during the day let you know something has changed on the day we return to DST. But on Sunday, we existed in a sort of timeless, cloudy murk all day. There was no clue till the end of the day, when the sun simply didn't go down when it was supposed to. Be nice to actually see it one of these days.