November 21 - 30

 

Racine has 9 hours and 18 minutes of daylight and Superior has 8 hours and 51 minutes of daylight at the end of the period. Southern Wisconsin loses 17 minutes of daylight and northern Wisconsin has 20 minutes less than the previous period.  November 25 is the full moon. Names for this full moon are Fog, Freezing Moon, or Beaver depending upon cultural tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving thanks: At this time of year, many persons express thanksgiving for a variety of reasons. Some may be thankful they shot a massive white tail deer buck. Others may be thankful that they made a tremendous amount of money during this year. Most however will be much more thankful for the little things. Being surrounded by family and friends is the foremost Wisconsin residents Thanksgiving wish.

 

Naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts may have different reasons for being thankful. Wonderful experiences in the woods and meadows of the state can be long-lasting and personally satisfying. The sighting of the new flower or the thrill of seeing a life list bird can rank very high for a person’s metal well-being. Ranking high in reasons for giving thanks is health. A growing awareness that time in nature is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle needs to become a pervasive social norm.

 

The folks at Great Nature Wisconsin are thankful for a renewed and continuously rising tide of environmental awareness.

 

  • Understanding of the restorative values of nature is growing by leaps and bounds. Homes and gardens are becoming therapeutic landscapes. They are planted and cared for with an eye towards mental rejuvenation. In addition, the restorative gardens provide habitat for a tremendous number of wildlife species. There is a movement to connect neighborhood backyards into miniature national parks.

  • Trends towards healthy communities and healthy family life are expanding exponentially. The development of healthy trail systems, green gymnasiums, and environmental educational facilities leads to a more sustainable and healthy community. Quality-of-life values increase with the number of participants in community events growing.

  • Participation in citizen naturalist activities is expanding greatly. Volunteerism to help the natural world gives participants tremendous inner satisfaction. Creating activities tailored to the skills of the volunteer make the citizen naturalist activities much more enjoyable. Some volunteers get tremendous joy out of cutting a common buckthorn in seeing it removed from the landscape. Whereas, others with less physical capabilities can do things like count butterflies or coordinate volunteer activities. Every citizen naturalist activity revitalizes them and gives tremendous inner satisfaction.

  • Others with deeper pocketbooks can actually go and buy land to protect natural communities and species habitat. It seems that the only group that is missing from this environmental bandwagon is billionaires. Precisely, the persons with the means to provide the most to the restorative landscape give the least. Nature, especially the highest quality nature, is the core for all healing values and philanthropic causes seem to focus on the symptoms.

  • People are also gaining a sense of natural place. The coulees of the Driftless area, rolling drumlins, central sand plains, and the lake studded Northwoods are examples of home places that give residents an inner comfort just by being there. All persons are ingrained with a sixth sense of familiar place and getting to know your natural surroundings greatly enhances that joy. Communities, such as Black River Falls, make a connection with the natural sense of naming their annual community celebration for a rare butterfly. Communities can enhance these values for their citizens by promoting natural features in their area.

  • Neighborhoods and cities are restoring themselves. Initiatives such as green roofs, trails surrounded by green vegetation, noise reduction programs, and cleanup days foster community pride. Communities can still do more, for example, go beyond the norm and provide environmental education field trips for their citizens to foster a natural sense of place for community vitality.

  • Changes in agriculture are also fostering a new connection with the land. Community supported agriculture provides a way for urban dwellers to support sustainable agriculture on the land. Replacing dilapidated buildings with urban community gardens greatly benefits inner cities. Rotational grazing of cattle instead of feedlot and pens of corporate agriculture provides a much more, healthy source of food. Even small city dwellers can turn into backyard farmers. They can have productive small-scale agriculture that is sustainable in the long term rather than having chemically maintained single bluegrass species lawns.

  • Teachers and schools are also contributing to the green movement. Understanding of the values of the aforementioned sense of natural place and healthy communities is part of many teachers curriculum. To further the understanding of natural place, each school should consider adopting a Wisconsin State Natural Area. To do so would create an understanding in each school district about the values of natural communities, foster the sense of natural place, instill the need to take care of our natural world, and support a broader understanding of scientific inquiry.

 

Central newt courtship: Newts are unique in Wisconsin, because they change from gilled aquatic larvae into a non-breeding terrestrial stage called and eft. Then, after some indeterminate time on land, they go through another metamorphosis into an aquatic breeding adult.  The adults are brown with light spots on the sides. The eft is rarely seen and has orange to rusty bodies with spots on the tail.

 

Newts live in small permanent ponds, shallows of large lakes, river sloughs and oxbow lakes. They are active all year and can be seen under the ice. Aquatic invertebrates comprise most of the newt diet.

 

Late fall into winter is breeding time for newts, but the eggs are laid in spring.  Courtship behavior is complex. The male nudges the female and displays by nudging and twitching. She many time swill swim away with the male in hot pursuit. The male will eventually crawl over the female and clasp her neck with his hind feet. During this embrace, the male uses a rippling motion of his tail to fan the female. The male sometimes rubs the females head with his snout. The female also raises her tail in a fanning motion. This embrace can last for hours.

 

Tidbits:

  • The shores of Lake Superior are the first locations to see the winter influx of Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks. These species are highly variable in how many enter the state, but some birds are in the state every winter.

  • Ninebark’s red brown pods are obvious as rounded clusters at the end of its branches.

  • Pine cone mushrooms spring from old pine cones on the forest floor.  

  • The evergreen leaves of the downy rattlesnake plantain are quite evident on the brown forest floor. Obviously, if early snows blanket the landscape, these leaves will be difficult to find.