Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Little Trappers

Spider Web
Orb Weaver Spider
The early morning light catches a dew speckled web in the marsh.  You can see such webs driving down the road, riding a bike, but it is best on foot.  You can observe the intricacies of the web, contemplate the mastery of the spinner with just a tiny speck for a brain, and never a teacher, or even a YouTube mentor to show it how it’s done.  Look close at the round globes of dew hanging from the web and notice the upside down, reversed and distorted world inside.  In a web you can read the story from the night before.  A hole in the web might indicate that some large insect, like a katydid crashed into the web tearing the silken threads.  You can find last night’s meal still stuck, or perhaps a snack all bundled up to be eaten later. 

If you are watching close to your feet as you walk, you’ll probably miss the web maker altogether, they will have dropped from view before you reach them.  Look ahead a little way as you walk and you’ll see them.  As you approach some will drop out of sight, but every now and then a slow approach and a cool morning the web spinner will stay dead center.   Some are small, and some are huge, at least by my standards.  These are some of the orb weaver spiders.  I could tell you some facts about orb weavers, but I must admit I’d have to go research them, and for me the orb weavers are like stars, they are for looking at in wonder.  I care not for the names of stars, what they are made of.  I may know some of those things, but when I look up at the sky it is a time to feel; to feel awe, to feel small and not to think.  When I look deep into the many eyes of the orb weavers I feel afraid, and feel it is time to move on.  Go search out the orb weavers if you dare.  You can find them in the marshes, prairies, and fields all around.  

Dew Web
Fly Eater

Previously published in the Oshkosh Scene.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finally a new post.

I've been writing for the Oshkosh Scene newspaper most of this year, my work blog, and I'm back in school, so I haven't been posting here much, but I'll start posting my Scene articles now.  The Oshkosh Scene can be found around Oshkosh for free most places, and it also available in a few newspaper machines. Here is my unedited article for November Issue.  The article was originally written for the Winnebago Water Level Fluctuation Group.

Generations of the Winnebago System

When the first pioneers settled around the Winnebago Pool Lakes in the middle of the nineteenth century, many made a living off the land and water.  Man and nature worked together, and also against one another.  The Fox River was “tamed” by dams, the prairie sod broken, but nature too had her floods and droughts to remind us who really is in charge.  In and around the Winnebago Pool Lakes much of the environment was degraded.  This environmental degradation changed the way people interacted with the land and water.   To understand how let’s follow a fictitious family through history. 

In 1841 a Norwegian man named Theodore Olson and his young wife Anna are settling on the north shore of Lake Poygan.  They have hastily erected a mud and stick house to keep the coming winter storms out.  In just two years time their first home will become the chicken coop, but for now it makes Theodore beam with pride, almost as much as the moose antlers above the door.  That big deer, the last one in the county, will feed this family through the winter. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 Flood

High water over the last week and a half is talking its toll on both wildlife and habitat.  Those familiar with habitat on the Winnebago Upper Pool Lakes know that thousands of acres of marsh have been lost because of the break up of floating "bogs".  When water rises the intertangled roots that from a sort of sod rip from the underling soil and float.  During high winds or ice break up in spring these mats break off and float down and usually disintegrate in Lake Winnebago.  When there was more marsh hundreds of acres could be lost in one event.  Friday a steady wind developed and began ripping the marsh apart one small piece at a time.  I witnessed a dozen of these small mats floating within the break wall at Terrell's Island and coming out of the Fox River at Lake Butte des Morts.

Cattail mat
Floating cattail "bog", exiting Terrell's Island marsh.  
High water also plays havoc with birds nesting close to the water's surface.  During a nest count May 8th with the DNR I observed perhaps a hundred flooded pelican nests and a dozen or so drown chicks, and the water was still rising.  

Bird Colony
American White Pelican nesting in cattail marsh, now flooded.
Flooded eggs
Pelican nest in the process of being flooded.  Parents were
still attempting to incubate partially flooded nests.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Waukau Creek Salmon

Fish migration
Small northern pike running the rapids

Fish were once again heading up Waukau Creek to try and spawn in Rush Lake.  Most will be blocked by the carp barrier, but they try until they are exhausted.  Yellow perch, northern pike, white sucker, and other species of sucker all play salmon as they attempt to run the rapids.

Click for: 2014 Northern Pike Spawning Migration

Northern Pike
Exhausted pike (7 inches long)  mostly out of water
Fish launch
Yellow perch attempting flight

Talk on White Pelicans and Double-Crested Cormorants

Art Techlow III, DNR biologist, will discuss the exploding population of white pelicans and double-crested cormorants in the area— what’s true, and what’s not—and what the DNR is doing to help manage these large birds.

This is a Lakes Council Speaker Series event. The public is invited.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
At the Stone Toad:
1109 Oneida Street
Menasha, WI 54952

Friday, January 20, 2012

Odds and Ends #2

Coontail Growth Time Lapse

Fishy Foo,  Photos of sunfish (centrachids) from my aquarium.
Panfish side view
Young Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

Panfish in aquarium
Young green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)

Fish Eyes
Head on view of a bluegill

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Odds and Ends #1

# 1 Signs

Much of the current lake bottom of Butte des Mort, Winneconne, and Poygan was once marsh which was owned
by farmers and hunting clubs, so the lake bottom is the property of some individuals.  There is practically nothing
you can do with the property other than not have duck hunters place blinds on it.  
I find it pathetic that those who benefit the most from public land are those who abuse it the most.  However, it is
 certainly the minority of hunters that blast signs.  This sign shows a partnership between Pheasants Forever and the
DNR to clean up the area, and what better way is there to show your appreciation that to turn the sign into trash.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Waiting for the Eastern Glow

Dawn Wetland
Predawn Glow
It has been far too long since I’ve watched the sun rise, or set.  Today I took the time to watch the sun come up over Poygan Marsh.