Arboretum News (Naturalists’ Notes)



Our walk began as it remained for the rest of the afternoon – warm, sunny and beautiful. Early on, the larger group of nearly 45, split into two. Samantha Nagy led the other crew whilst I headed toward Teal Pond with my own. The program, entitled “Transitions,” ... Read more »

  • Early Spring Migrnats

    SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2014

    What a long cold and snowy winter! Today could be the first 60 degree day since last October, almost five months of cold. Not only ... Read more »

  • End of Winter

    SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2014

    Although the vernal equinox, an occurrence symbolizing rebirth and fertility, happened just three days ago, today’s temperature hovered just above 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the ... Read more »

  • Looking for the Green

    SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2014

    On Sunday’s walk, WE SAW A PILEATED WOODPECKER AND A BARRED OWL!!! What else is there to tell, really?? But seriously. Here’s more of the story: ... Read more »

  • Phenology and Signs of Spring – Really

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2014

    This winter has been so cold that we might find ourselves questioning if spring really will come. Before we headed out on our hike ... Read more »

  • Life in Winter

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2014

    Holding true to this winter’s weather trends, the day was cold, but we did have the sun shining during this tour. The much-appreciated brightness ... Read more »

  • Halfway to Spring

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2014

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you! “It may not feel much like spring yet,” said the tour description. And indeed it didn’t – ... Read more »

  • Glacial Geology of the Arboretum

    SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, 2014

    The Ice Age of the past 1.5 million years had a huge hand in shaping and defining the landscape of Dane County. Read more »

  • Animal Signs

    SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2014

    There is no program I enjoy teaching more than Animal Signs. Whenever I go outside to look for animal tracks, I feel like I ... Read more »

  • Phenology

    SUNDAY, JANUARY 5, 2014

    WARNING: These notes contain references to blood, guts, excrement, and death. Sensitive readers may wish to close this document now. Still with me? ... Read more »

  • Snow

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2013

    A local news channel started off with us for Sunday’s tour – with a local interest story about why in the world people would go ... Read more »

  • Winter Sampler

    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2013

    I was at the Arboretum and ready to give a tour on Sunday, but the nearly 7” of snow that had fallen overnight must have ... Read more »

  • Late Autumn Woodland Walk

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2013

    As we started Sunday’s tour I noted that the temperature was about 10 F below normal—but then quickly corrected myself. In casual conversation we might ... Read more »

  • Woodland Walk

    TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2013

    Sunday Walk on November 3rd: Woodland Walk The weather was about 50 degrees and sunny; perfect for a walk through the woods. A lot ... Read more »

  • Woodlands Hike

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013

    Finally, the fruits of another Wisconsin Autumn are nearly upon us. Our Friends of the Arboretum-funded hike began under blue skies with a nip ... Read more »


    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2013

    Sunday’s tour focused on the John T. Curtis Prairie. September 20th marked the 100th anniversary of Curtis’s birth, and we chose to spend the ... Read more »

  • Greene Prairie and Grady Tract Savanna

    SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2013

    It was a hot and humid Sunday afternoon, but a few avid hikers met me at the Grady Tract parking lot and we ventured off ... Read more »

  • Butterflies (and moths) Flutterby

    SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2013

    We naturalists don’t usually report in from the family tours, but we had some unfinished business from today’s family walk (unidentified caterpillar), so I thought ... Read more »

  • PUBLIC TOUR - Wetlands

    SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2013

    The air was thick as our group of twenty took off from the visitor center this past Sunday afternoon. On the bike ride over ... Read more »

  • Public Tour – Grady Oak Savanna

    SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2013

    Our tour began by walking along the path parallel to Seminole Highway, toward the V1 trail marker, where I pointed out a large decaying stump. ... Read more »

  • Prairie in Blue and White

    SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2013

    The prairie is in its blue and white color phase right now. Most of what is blooming is one of those two colors – with touches of yellow added. Read more »

  • Solstice – Friday, June 21st, 2013

    FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2013

    I welcomed the group on our annual tour to celebrate the day of the summer solstice or, colloquially, Midsummer day. I say the day of the summer solstice, because the solstice is an actual moment in time – it is not an entire day. Read more »

  • By the Dark of the Moon

    SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

    A strange and significant breeze blew out of the southeast throughout our program. This evening we focused on the nocturnal portion of the order Lepidoptera. ... Read more »

  • Early Summer on Curtis Prairie

    SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

    It was overcast, warm, and windy on today’s Curtis prairie tour—beautiful. Perhaps you have already noticed the construction at the visitor center? The deck, which ... Read more »

  • Grady Tract Oak Savanna and Greene Prairie

    SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2013

    “Like a walk in the park.” That’s how some have described oak savannas. At the entrances to the Grady Tract are maps and posters describing ... Read more »

  • West Curtis Prairie, Leopold Pines and Noe Woods Walk

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 29, 2013

    A little sprinkling of rain didn’t spoil our tour on Sunday to the western reaches of the Curtis Prairie, the Leopold Pines, and a bit ... Read more »

  • Woodland Wildflowers in a late spring

    SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2013

    It finally felt like spring on Sunday and a large group of folks turned out for the 1 pm public tour. We anticipated this and ... Read more »


    SUNDAY, MARCH 31, 2013

    Mother Nature lied to us on Easter Sunday. At 1:00 she promised us a lovely, sunny afternoon – but she failed to deliver. ... Read more »

  • End of Winter

    SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

    Our tour for this first weekend of Spring is titled “End of Winter”, but the weather today seems more like the middle of Winter! With ... Read more »

  • Awakening Land

    SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2013

    This year’s March is quite different from last year. At this time last year, there were woodland wildflowers in bud (and bloom!). This year, we’re ... Read more »

  • Winter Birds

    SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2013

    With temperatures hovering near 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and water obliged to display its according state, we began our tour in something of a heavy, mid-February ... Read more »

  • Winter Water

    SUNDAY, JANUARY 20, 2013

    It seems that winter water is not a simple thing. Read more »

  • A Walk in Wingra Woods

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2012

    Sunday’s Wingra walk started with a bang; well it was more like a shriek. We heard the piercing, majestic call of a red-tailed hawk ... Read more »

  • Thinking Like an Arboretum

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2012

    On an unseasonably warm November afternoon (not that I’m complaining, but it doesn’t feel NORMAL), we set out to “think like an Arboretum”. This ... Read more »

  • A Walk in the Late Autumn Woods

    SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2012

    A good show of brave souls turned out for our walk – despite the steady drizzle and the ominous dark rain clouds on the weather ... Read more »

  • Red Lanterns – Fall Woodland Walk

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2012

    The title of the walk comes from Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. In the October chapter he refers to allowing his dog to wander from “red lanterns”– red leaves lit by the autumn sun – in search of grouse, woodcock and jacksnipe. Read more »

  • Arboretum Sampler – Hawks to Hedge Apples

    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2012

    Sunday’s Arb Sampler tour started with a dramatic appearance of a red-tailed hawk that swooped down off of the Visitor Center, skimming right over a ... Read more »

  • Fall Flowers in the Grady Tract

    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2012

    The weather smiled on us for Sunday’s tour at the Grady Tract. It’s rare for us to tour at Grady two weeks in a ... Read more »

  • Notes from the Naturalist: Curtis Prairie Late Summer


    A burst of yellow, and shades of purple and red, herald the coming of fall each year in Curtis Prairie. As we entered the prairie, ... Read more »

  • A Sample of Dane County in 1834

    SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2012

    Why did we choose 1834 in our tour name? If you’d been here in 1834, very little of the present Arboretum acreage would have looked the way it does today. Read more »