Exploring Lake Mendota’s Lakeshore Park

Something I was told everyone needs to do in Madison is walk to Picnic Point. I finally got the time (read: gumption) to do it the last week I was in Wisconsin. Unfortunately some of the cool picures I have of the walk out there have people in them. And who wants to look at people when you’ve got trees and birds and things that aren’t people?


There were several paths to walk around on, though I had to park the bike before I could go to the point. And of course, I got to see a lot of my favorite birds, the chickadees.

I even got lucky and got a picture of a kingfisher not stooping next to a tree trunk and hissing/cackling/booing at me.

There’s also an old water pump with a place to refill water bottles on the way to the point.

When I got off the point, I decided to wander around to a small cove that purportedly had beautiful sunsets. On the way, I found a really cool degenerating tree burl (or paper wasp nest) at the top of an oak tree.

Tree burls (if that’s indeed what this is), are benign tumors of trees in which the tree’s germ cells basically forget what they were supposed to grow into, so they keep dividing, eventually forming a big round bump on the side of the tree. Paper wasp nests are much less interesting.

Something I absolutely loved about Wisconsin was the ability to go around a corner and suddenly find yourself in a small spot of restored prairie. Sure enough, I walked out of the trees and into a huge circle of flowers replete with birds and buzzing insects like this bee.

I also found something cool (which unfortunately wasn’t alive at this point).

A mole! Well, fine, I guess I used to see them all the time in this condition. We used to live downhill from a floodplain, so every time it rained, we would get floating moles and gophers (and a few swimming rabbits) coming down the drainage ditch through the yard after they got flooded out of their burrows. Too bad we’ve forgotten what rain looks like down here. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the touch receptors that tell me the difference between wet and dry, I haven’t seen it for so long.

Don’t worry, that was probably the worst nerdy joke you’ll hear from me all week.

Anyway, I finally made it to the little cove, but it was too cloudy and cold to wait for sunset, so instead I decided to go back later in the week when it was warmer.

But you’ll have to wait until next week for that.

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One response to “Exploring Lake Mendota’s Lakeshore Park

  1. Love, love, love the comment about people sorta kinda ruining otherwise great pictures. My family photo albums are 90% nature, animals, and weird angles of cool tree branches. I did get my brother in a picture. I made him sit with a notebook and look at a tree like he cared about it to pretend he was a naturalist. (he’s a mechanical engineer now)

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