Ozaukee Washington Land Trust

Notes from Bratt Woods

Bratt Woods trail maintenance smThe early Saturday morning was cool, but thankfully dry as I collected post-hole digger, shovel, and tamping rod to reset a trail marker post in the Land Trust’s Bratt Woods.

        Mother goose calmly watched from her island nest as I stopped on the Interurban bridge to check the river’s condition. Other than having relocated a few snags, the river had behaved itself this year and hadn’t risen far enough to disturb the nest.

        A short walk along the trail soon brought me to where the marker post had been dislodged. I had barely started when a quartet of blue jays arrived to begin loudly heckling my post-hole digging skills. They soon grew bored with me though, and moved on to see what else was happening in their neighborhood.

As I paused to check the depth of the hole, raucous squawks and intermittent tapping announced the arrival of a pair of pileated woodpeckers intent on digging a hole of a different sort. Bits of decayed wood soon began falling to the ground as a suspect area of a nearby tree trunk was energetically explored.

        The woodpeckers having left to find other tasty treats, I got back to the task at hand. Before returning the soil to the hole, it was examined to see what might be of interest in it. Something similar may have been on the minds of the squadron of gulls flying in loose formation inland, perhaps to check newly tilled fields for breakfast offerings.

        With the post set, plumb, and firmly tamped in place, a convenient downed tree provided a place to sit and admire the work. In the stillness of that contemplation, I was joined by a bluebird alighting on a nearby branch. Was it attracted by the similar blue color at the top of the marker post? This bit of feathered color in the still mostly grays and tans of the awakening springtime woods was reward enough for the work done that morning.

About the author:

Growing up on a small farm in Outagamie County with Wolf River lowland forest to explore and acres of pine plantation and fruit and nut orchard to help care for, I developed an appreciation for woodland, flowing water, and stewardship.

My first experience with the land trust was working with Peter Ziegler in clearing a trail in the Bratt Woods. Since then, I've helped to build the ponds and plant trees at the Mequon Nature Preserve, and otherwise assist when and where I could.

When I saw a need for more active attention for Bratt Woods, I attended OWLT's stewardship training program and took on stewardship of the unit. Since then I've been working, with other volunteers, to make Bratt Woods an accessible place to observe, learn from, and enjoy a natural area.