A bat flew by my nose as I was sitting on the patio last evening. The swooshing flutter startled me from my book. Bats were flying laps around our valley, eating their way through clouds of insects as the sun started to go down. It was a pleasant evening and we weren’t bothered by mosquitoes. The rough board-on-board siding on our shop building has become a giant bat house. Bats disperse from their winter hibernation caves in May to give birth, raise their young and to forage.
--By Dan Wilcox We’ve had five storms in the last year that started out with sleet and freezing rain and then turned to heavy wet snow that loaded up on the trees. Several storms with four to six inches of wet snow occurred last April after the first bluebirds returned. On May 1 last year it was 50 degrees in the morning and by the next day we had over a foot of wet snow. Last week’s storm started with rain and left about a foot of snow at our place.
I can’t recall how many times I’ve been asked to explain to people inquiring about where the waterfalls are in River Falls. The falls of the Kinnickinnic River are hidden under hydropower dams within the city. Now the City of River Falls has a unique opportunity to reconsider its namesake. After working with regulated rivers for more than 40 years, I appreciate the economic utility and the social and environmental costs of dams.
Carol and I continued south after a good time with my family and friends in Ohio over Christmas. We were fortunate to escape the way-below-zero cold at home that made the news. We visited friends near Gulf Shores, Ala. over New Year’s Day. Our friend Jane cooked us a great seafood dinner; oysters Fenton, shrimp cocktail with remoulade sauce, blue crab claws and oyster shooters. The weather there was relatively warm (for us); in the 50s, windy with some rain.
Many of us enjoy strolling through a park-like setting with scattered trees and grassy ground vegetation. We also enjoy time on a beach. These are common human predilections. Savannas are ecosystems with plant communities consisting of open-grown scattered trees with a grassy understory. Savanna ecosystems are transitional communities found between forests and grasslands. The savanna theory suggests that our hominid ancestors evolved on the dry plains of Africa.
By Dan Wilcox A couple weeks ago I hunted for ruffed grouse and woodcock in northwestern Wisconsin in the area between Drummond and Iron River. The area is hilly and dotted with kettle lakes and wetlands, a legacy of the last glaciations. I really like the forest in that area.
by Dan Wildcox, outdoor columnist Last Saturday was an end-of-summer day for us. The big travel lift at the Washburn Marina picked our old sailboat out of the water and set it on its steel cradle.
Now is a great time to take a hike. Corky abscission layers are forming between leaf petioles and twigs on deciduous trees and shrubs, cutting down the flow of nutrients and water into the leaves. Green chlorophyll pigment degrades revealing the yellow xanthophylls and the orange beta-carotene pigments. Red anthocyanin pigments form as the chlorophyll degrades.
By Dan Wilcox Outdoor Columnist Ole and Sven were returning from a fishing expedition with few fish.
By Daniel Wilcox, Outdoor Columnist I agree with Water Rat’s quote in Kenneth Grahame’s book, Wind in the Willows: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” I really enjoy being out on the water in wild places. I was named after an ancestor who was a Rhode Island whaling captain in the mid-1800s. He survived a number of years-long voyages and lived to tell about it. My mother still has his whalebone cane.