Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Birds of an Urban State Park

Taking a nature break after work, can sooth a troubled mind...but what was the machete' for?

Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee Wisconsin is a truly beautiful (entirely man made) restful place.  I was killing some time before my every other Thursday evening MMOC Optimist meeting when I last parked the WPT for a visit.  I was struck by the way that the prairie had established itself since I had been there in the summer of '09.  The various raised hills of earth created when the place was conceived were now alive with growth and colorful grasses and native flora of Wisconsin.  The pure white limestone rocks that formed the breakwater were positively glowing in the afternoon sun.  The temperature was just perfect and the sun abundant on this particular afternoon.

Small groups of immature European starlings hopped and foraged in the grasses along the rocks as I walked.  At this stage of their lives, they look a bit like a meadowlark in the mottling of the breast, but lacking any of the color.  Ring-billed gulls congregated on the open grassy areas and Mallards and Common mergansers lined the edges of the inland backwaters.  Rock doves could also be seen pecking at small piles of aggregate as a young child on a scooter and his mother ambled past my location.  Fishermen trying their luck on the calm waters of the lagoon didn't even seem to bother the flotilla of ducks as they cast their rods in hopeful motions.

Several signs are posted along the concrete walkways explaining both the environment and the animal life which are found in the park.  You need to look down to find them.  There is also an experimental area of grassland management in various stages and an explanation for it as well.  I walked on, thinking about how surprisingly peaceful and serene this human-created slice of land really was.  The gulls overhead with their plaintive calls and the sail boats dancing on the "big" water added to the romanticism of the experience.  I smiled that smile that says both, "I am happy to be alive" and "don't blink or you'll miss capturing the feeling of serenity".

That's about when I spotted the two long sheaths and the torpedo level in the grass.  I (of course) prepared to take an image because of the unexpected nature of the collection.  I began wondering what the odd juxtaposition of these artifacts had with the environmental offerings of any group of volunteering well-doers and drew a blank.  Scooter-Mom watched me with my camera pointed into the ground.  I glanced her way and gave a shrug of puzzlement, but clicked the shutter anyway.  I don't know what comes over me, but things (all things) interest me on some level; this was no different. 

Oh well...I walked on with my question forever unanswered...that's the way life can be sometimes right?

Here's more images to enjoy!
(Remember to click on them to get a larger image)

Looking for a Little Bird
Picture postcard perfect

Say "fiiissshh"!

The Milwaukee Iroquois Tour Boat

Common merganser

The Map and Rules of Lakeshore State Park