Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Emerging Out Of The Mist

May 17, 2013
Fog sunrise

Emerging out of the mist

Central Wisconsin is often shrouded in an early morning fog. It’s beauty is often lost as most folks are simply not awake early enough to witness it.  The farm in the above image is located near Amherst, Wisconsin.

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Spring is Here!

May 4, 2013
Red Barn in Portage County Wisconsin

Red Barn in Portage County Wisconsin during early spring.

Our snow has finally melted in central Wisconsin. Farmers are plowing their fields, grasses are beginning to become a little green and trees are budding. A few of use have runny eyes and stuffy noses (tree allergies) but all of use have big smiles on our faces because winter seems behind us. I am sure mother nature still has a few cold weather surprises for us but spring is here.

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Winter is fading, the ice is leaving

April 20, 2013
Last Days of Ice. Springville Pond, Plover, Wisconsin

Last Days of Ice. Springville Pond, Plover, Wisconsin

Springville Pond is a former mill pond on the Little Plover River in Portage County, Wisconsin. The image was captured just after sunrise as ice was giving way to open water.

If you cross Springville Pond on Post Road (Business 51) before trees have leafed, you will have a good view of the house Frank Lloyd Wright built for Dr. Frank Iber. According to a local historian, the house is an example of the first prefab design for Marshall Erdman Company.  I am told Dr. Iber wanted some control over construction but Frank Lloyd Wright was not one to listen.  Dr. Iber wanted to speak with the architect during his inspection trips and apparently had a standing offer to local children to be notified when Frank Lloyd Wright would pay a visit.  The architect apparently paid the children a higher rate not to announce his presence to the doctor. Guess who won and who remained frustrated?

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Marsh Marigolds Announce Spring’s Arrival

April 17, 2013
Marsh marigold along a small stream in Whting, Wisconsin

Marsh marigolds along a small stream in Whiting, Wisconsin

Based on the calendar, one would think spring starts in March.  Here in Wisconsin we typically see snow well into April. In fact we just were treated to an April snowstorm.  It’s actually Mother Nature who announces the arrival of spring.  We have been seeing her early announcements lately; the arrival of sandhill cranes, snow geese and the ever beautiful marsh marigold.

Also called “cowslips”, marsh marigolds are found in wet meadows, marshes, swamps and along sluggish streams. They grow abundantly in the wetlands around Stevens Point. The marigold’s bright yellow blossoms always brighten my day.

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold

It’s common name “marigold” comes from the word marsh gold, an appropriate name for its appearance and typical habitat. Cowslips is said to be what happens when cows step on them on the way to take a sip in a nearby stream. Despite the plant’s common names, it is neither a marigold nor a cowslip, but rather a true member of the buttercup family.

Marsh marigolds only bloom for a few weeks. If you are in Stevens Point, take a drive on the rural roads heading north.  You will be likely to find marsh marigolds in the ditches and wetlands along the road.

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Fog in Central Wisconsin

April 15, 2013
Fog in Central Wisconsin

Fog in Central Wisconsin

We had a snow storm yesterday that left behind a wet slushy landscape.  This morning was relatively warm leaving us shrouded in a beautiful fog. Driving was a little tense but it sure was pretty.

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Jeweled Web

April 11, 2013
Jeweled Spider Web, George W. Mead Wildlife Area

Jeweled Spider Web, George W. Mead Wildlife Area

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Hi ho – it is off to the blind we go

March 22, 2013
Prairie Chicken Kiosk south of Plover (late August)

Prairie Chicken Kiosk south of Plover (late August)

(continued from the previous post)

It is early spring outside but inside I am gathering my warmest clothing.  Big thick boots, heavy winter parka, long johns, hat, gloves, hand and feet warmers; all laid out. It is the night before and all is ready.

The alarm goes off at about O’dark Hundred and I quickly get ready for the big adventure. The morning is cold, very cold and still very dark. I need to hurry because I have a date.

pcmaA date at the prairie chicken kiosk south of Plover at 4:30 AM.  I am not the first but certainly not the last to arrive.  Talking to the others, we find most of us are from central Wisconsin but a few have traveled some distance to view the greater prairie chickens dance.

Our guides give us a brief introduction to the mornings activity and then split us into smaller groups.  My group of three will climb into our respective cars and follow a guide to the vicinity of our viewing station – a small plywood box in the middle of field.  They call it a blind. In the early morning hours, before sunrise, it really was a blind, I couldn’t see it.

Prairie chickens return to the same grounds each year to perform their dance and find a mate. Blinds are placed in these grounds as part of an on going study monitoring the health and well being of the population.

The guide points us in the general direction of the blind and then sends us on our way. Using our flashlights we make our way down a faint path and eventually find our way to the blind.

Prairie Chicken blind in the field.

Prairie Chicken blind in the field.

You can reserving a seat in a viewing blind by  calling 715-343-6215. Viewing starts at 4:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Buena Vista Marsh, Saturday at Mead Wildlife Area and Saturday and Sunday at Paul J. Olson Wildlife Area.

(continued on the next post)

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Prairie Chicken Booming – Time to Reserve a Blind

March 20, 2013

This has been a good winter for snow, snow is still very deep in the Buena Vista Grasslands. Though it is a little hard to imagine, spring is coming.  The days are getting progressively longer and the snows will begin to melt. Before long the Buena Vista Marsh will be  alive with the wild voices and stomping feet of the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido).

The prairie chicken is known for its annual mating ritual during which the males dance in a circle with their wings over their heads, jump in the air, make a loud booming call and square off against one another in order to attract a hen.  The Wisconsin DNR provides a series of blinds throughout southern Portage County that can been used to study and observe these wonderful creatures.

Fran and Fred Hamerstrom started their internationaly known studies of the greater prairie chicken in 1949. They were credited with playing a major role in keeping the bird from disappearing from Wisconsin. Their advocacy resulted in purchase of grassland in a patchwork distribution providing appropriate habitat sprinkled across a wide geographic area.  The Hamerstroms worked closely with the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point as adjunct professors. Since the Hamerstrom’s have been influential in the development of UWSP, one could also say Stevens Point is what is today because of prairie chicken preservation.

You can reserving a seat in a viewing blind by  calling 715-343-6215. Viewing starts at 4:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Buena Vista Marsh, Saturday at Mead Wildlife Area and Saturday and Sunday at Paul J. Olson Wildlife Area.

In a future post I will describe what it is like to view the greater prairie chicken from a blind.

(continued on the next post)

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Lime Lake Winter Sunrise

March 12, 2013
Lime Lake, Portage County, Wisconsin

Lime Lake, Portage County, Wisconsin

Lime Lake is one of the few lakes in Portage County draining initially to the east.  A remnant of our glacial past, it was formed by a huge block of ice left behind by a retreating glacier.  The ice chunk depressed the ground underneath forming a depression that would become Lime Lake. The image was captured from the frozen lake surface near a boat landing.

Drainage for the lake exits through the gap seen in the distance.

In days gone by, the lake was a source of lime for area farmers.  A drag line was strung across a lake and large bucket was pulled over the lake bottom to gather the lime.

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Plover River

March 8, 2013
Plover River, Marathon County, Wisconsin

Plover River, Marathon County, Wisconsin

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