Winter Sunrise Time Lapse and Photos

Short trip down to the lake this morning to watch the sunrise over Lake Winnebago.  It was cold, but not bad for this time of year.

Winter Sunrise

Sunrise on a cold winter morning over Lake Winnebago. A set of small clouds in a line, almost like someone drew them in.

Pre-Dawn Footprints

Before dawn, foot prints in the snow curve along a lake-side trail at the park, passing a bench and trees.


Posted in Nature Week | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Snowstorm Aftermath Video

On Monday night into Tuesday morning we had a wonderful, small snowstorm with little wind that allowed the snow to pile up on thin branches and everything else.  This left the world white and wondrous.  I took the video below at Wuakau Creek Nature Preserve in Winnebago County, Wisconsin.  To see some photos of this trip visit my Winter Wonderland Photo Gallery.

Posted in Video | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Aerial Drone Photography of Lakes and Wetlands

Aerial photography really changes the way you look at the landscape.  You can see so much more through the eyes of a bird.  New patterns emerge, and unseen wonders not visible from the ground.  As a scientist I can see patterns in vegetation, soil moisture, wildlife use and man-made changes.  Bogs, Swamps and marshes all have their unique characteristics that can be viewed from the air.  Wetlands and lakes are amazing natural places whether viewed from up close, or up in the air.

The air photos and videos were filmed using a dji Phantom 2 UAV and GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition camera.

Aerial Lake Photo

Aerial photo of lake and bog wetland taken with dji Phantom 2 and GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera.

Aerial view of a pond at Wuakau Creek after a snowstorm. Photographed with dji Phantom and GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera.

Aerial view of a pond at Wuakau Creek after a snowstorm.

Posted in Nature Week, Photo of the Week, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frozen Lake and Shore

Just before Lake Winnebago froze ice and wind and waves drove water up on to rocks, plants and everything where it froze in layers.

Panorama of a frozen Lake Winnebago bay.

Panorama of a frozen Lake Winnebago bay.


Posted in Lake Winnebago System, Lakes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bald Eagle Watching in Oshkosh, WI

Bald Eagle Flying in Oshkosh

Heavily cropped photo of a Bald Eagle  flying over the Fox River on a winter day in the City of Oshkosh.  On this day I saw 6 birds, half adults and half juveniles.

Winter finally arrived to the area and with the open water giving way to ice, the ducks, geese, gulls and Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are concentrating on the few patches of available water on the rivers.  In the city of Oshkosh the Fox River has enough current to keep open patches of water here and there during the milder parts of winter.  Some years it may only be completely frozen over for a few days.  So far this winter this hasn’t happened and we can see a number of birds concentrated in the city.  Birds like Mallard Ducks, Canada Geese and Ring-billed and Herring Gulls live here year round.  Other birds like Common Golden Eye and Common Merganser are migrants.

In recent years there have also been a number of Bald Eagles spending part of the winter on the Fox River.  These individuals could be resident birds that nest in the county, or even the city of Oshkosh.  Of course there is no way to really tell if they are resident individuals or not.  It is easier to see Bad Eagles this time of year, because they frequent areas where they can be viewed by the road, and because the leaves are off the trees.

Bald Eagle on the ice - Oshkosh

Bald Eagle standing by and open patch of water across from Riverside Cemetery, City of Oshkosh, WI.

One of the best places to look for Bald Eagles in the city of Oshkosh is Rainbow Park.  The park is long and the road runs close to the river for quite a distance.  When watching the eagles, or any bird for that matter, try your best not to disturb them.  They need to reserve there energy for keeping warm during the winter.

Peach colored ice on the Fox River

In addition to bird watching the Fox River in winter can provide interesting patterns and colors on the ice.

Posted in Birds, Lake Winnebago System, Nature Week | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Snowy Wisconsin

December in Northern Wisconsin usually equals plenty of snow, but this year it has been lacking, until the last few days.  Here are a few photos from a trip I took earlier this December in the Eagle River area.

Snow and Coniferous Swamp

Coniferous swamp with a understory of leatherleaf shrubs and a light coating of snow.

Since I made my short trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin we have gotten snow where I live.  We barely had what I would call a dusting of snow all season and then wham, we got 8-10 inches!  That isn’t a massive amount of snow in the grand scheme of things, but it is a lot for the first snow of the season, and it arrived very late.

Snow covered trail sign.

Snow covered hiking trail sign.

Continue reading

Posted in Nature Week, Photo of the Week | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Marsh Wars: The Cattails Awaken

I thought I’d publish an post from my old blog in honor of the new Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens.  This post was intended as some April Fool’s Day fun several years ago.  I knew it wouldn’t fool anyone.

Lego Star Wars in the Marsh

Republic defenders of the marsh.

I just got a letter from the Lego Company.  They have rejected a concept for a new series of toys I call “Marsh Wars.”  I guess I’ll have to send my proposal to George Lucas, and company.  It takes place during the Clone Wars of the Star Wars prequel franchise.  The Sith have sent new invasive species into the wetlands of the galaxy.  These plants increase the energy produced by the dark side of the force, giving Darth Sidious more power to take over the Republic.   It is up to the Jedi Order and the clones under their command to stop these plants:  narrow-leaf cattail and reed canary grass.

Lego Star Wars Speeder and Hoth creatures in wetland

Battle of Rat River, notice marsh is already infected by narrow-leaved cattail.

Lego Star Wars Emperal Officer

Sith Captain with explosives

I suppose I can understand that the Lego Company may not like my proposal, but they did not need to be so rude in letting me down.  They called my proposal a “disturbing 700 page manifesto.”  I did a significant amount of research and I stand behind every word of that document, and to be fair it is only 682 pages.  “We agree that invasive species pose a significant threat to wetland and other environments, but we do not wish Lego toys sets to include Roundup and other herbicides.”  Well, I hate pesticides, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Perhaps they could have given me some tips on how to improve my concept rather than saying “We truly wish you the best with whatever devastating affliction you have.”  I really wished they had passed this on to George Lucas and his team instead of “… we are sending our concerns to your local law enforcement and the FBI.”

Lego Star Wars and Rock Creatures

The Sith “Planters”

I hope you got a chuckle if you share my sick sense of humor.

Posted in Humor | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Black Cherry Tree Bark

Black Cherry Tree Bark

Black Cherry Tree Bark (click to purchase photo)

Several species o lichen are growing on this large, old Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) tree.  This old tree grew in my yard.  It was about 2.5 feet in diameter and 60 feet tall.  It was hollow as can be and home to carpenter ants.  In the summer the tree dropped thousands of small black cherries that were eaten by birds, chipmunks, mice and our dogs.

Posted in Photo of the Week | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Timothy Grass Photo

Timothy grass covered in tiny morning dew drops, near where I grew up .  Photo is back from the days of film.  One thing that I love when taking closeup photos of nature is when you get back home and discover something new.  In this photo I found a tiny spider on the seedhead on the left.  I never noticed it in the field.  Click the photo below to purchase a print.

Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense)

Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense)

Posted in Photo of the Week, Plants | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Scientific Definition of Ecology

The term Ecology is often used in the context of environmental issues, or health of the environment but this is not technically the correct use of the term.

Ecology is defined as “the scientific study of the inter-relationships among organisms and between organisms, and between them and all aspects of the living and non-living of their environment.” (Allaby 1994)   The term ecology was coined by Ernst Haeckel and he derived it from the Greek words oikos (house) and logos (study of)

Plant Ecology Survey

This plant survey is part of an ecological study conducted annually to understand the relationship between water levels and aquatic plant abundance.

There for an ecologist is a scientist who studies the interaction between all aspects of the non-living and the living world as well as the interaction between.  As an ecologist of lakes and wetlands one of the things that I study is the interaction between phosphorus, phytoplankton and water clarity.    I measure all three in a water body and use statistical analysis to try to understand the relationship between these living, chemical and physical components of the environment.  This is just one little example.  The number and types of interactions in the environment are too numerous to count.  Perhaps I will never be out of work.

Allaby M. 1994. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology.  Oxford University Press. Oxford New York

Posted in Definitions | Tagged , | Leave a comment