A failed girdle

Here’s a shot of a shagbark hickory that was double girdled in a timber stand improvement project just a couple of years ago. It’s amazing how fast the tree bridged the girdle. I’ve seen hickory …

Down the rabbit hole

I rabbit burst from the snow at my feet as I stepped into a raspberry thicket.  It seemed like it came out of nowhere.  The brambles held up the snow, and the rabbit had what …

Crampons Beat Snowshoes

I’m a big advocate of crampons for working off trail in the woods in the winter. Snowshoes are great, but only when they’re really necessary, and only in relatively flat terrain. I don’t consider using …

Heavy erosion

Here is an example of the erosion that is still occuring in the Driftless. Runoff from ridgetop fields gets concentrated and can cause trememndous erosion. The standing tree on the edge of the ravine in …

A windmill surrounded by trees

Here is a windmill surrounded by black locust. The current landowner says that he remembers when he was a boy that the windmill was in the open, and the landowner previous to him used to …

A logging video collage

Here is a series of videos from an active timber sale. It was recorded in a group opening in a group selection harvest. First, a tree is cut, multiple stems are winched out of the …

A nut for later

Here is a hickory nut in a bark crevice. There aren’t any hickory trees in the immediate area, so it couldn’t have fallen in. I think it’s a nut that a squirrel cached for later. …

Remote Sensing and Effigy Mounds

I set up a timber sale on a property that has many native built effigy mounds. What a treat! The mounds were probably constructed about 1,000 years ago. Effigy mounds in the area were surveyed …

The value of den trees

I talk to landowners about the ecological value of den trees and standing and dead down wood. Here’s a nice example of a raccoon using a defective walnut tree. Do you see it’s slightly lighter …

A beautiful, burbling spring

This beautiful spring is in Newton Valley, west of Viroqua. The water pushes up through fine sand. You can hear the spring burbling away if you turn up the video volume.

A hardy red pine seedling

Here’s a red pine seedling that’s about as tough as they come. It’s hard to imagine it can persist in a little crack in a rock.

Two Trees Grown Together

Here’s a picture of something I don’t think I’ve seen before. The branches of two individual sugar maple trees grew together. I would have marked them to cut if they weren’t so darn neat.

A wasp stuck in a tree

Here’s a wasp that got stuck in a tree when it was depositing its eggs in a tree. See the shiny black tube that’s intserted into the bark? That’s the ovipositor. I gave it a …

Witch hazel in bloom

Witch hazel, also known as winterbloom, is blooming in the Driftless. It’s one of the few fall blooming shrubs in the woods. This beautiful specimen was tucked in next to a large sandstone outcrop near …

Mushrooms and Ticks

The deer ticks are back after their summer vacation, and they’re not wasting time getting down to business. It seems like in the spring they don’t embed quickly, but I’ve been pulling off many embeded …

A Spiny Puffball

I was collecting edible bolete mushrooms last week, and if you aren’t familiar with them, boletes have spongy pores instead of gills. Many of them also taste delicious. I also found a beautiful little puffball. …

Young boxelder bugs

Raspberries on a hot, south facing slope must be an ideal place for young boxelder bugs. Check out this swarm of them and the pretty all orange boxelder bug. From the time the boxelder bugs …

The Maples are Dry

Have you noticed scattered browing trees in the forest as you’ve been driving around? I just really noticed it today. The picture below is poor quality, but it illustrates what I saw. Most of the …

Gap Dynamics

After a brief summer hiatus, the KWC blog is back. Because fires rarely burn our forests anymore, windthrow, natural tree mortality and timber harvests will be the primary disturbance in our forests. Group selection harvests, …

Virginia creeper adds tendrils

This Virginia creeper stem is sending out new tendrils. The new tendrils look fresh and orange, and they gradually turn brown and shrink in size. They are weak individually, but tens to hundreds of them …

Oak leaf in spider web

Here is a small red oak leaf caught delicately in a spider web. It’s surprising how infrequently I see leaves caught in spider webs. Maybe the spiders clean the leaves out of their webs, or …

Good site, fast trees

The soils in the Driftless can really grow some trees! This red oak was out in the open, and I’m not sure why it was cut down, but take a look at those growth rings. …

Leaf rollers and caterpillar vs. ants

I saw several rolled up aspen leaves on the ground after one of the last big storms. I didn’t think much of the first couple, but I suddenly realized that aspen leaves don’t roll up …

A sunburned aspen

Of course it’s not really sunburned, but it sure looks like it. My wife noticed this phenomenon on a snapped off cottonwood when we were hiking at Duck Egg Park. I saw it on a …

A Skunk With a Collar

I saw a skunk skeleton on the ground in the woods last week, and it was strange because the back of the skull was in a piece of PVC. I took a closer look and saw that the skunk died with the PVC around its neck. I supposed that it stuck its head through the PVC and couldn’t get it back out. I also supposed that it died of starvation.

Those amazing insects

Ken Workowski, a KWC board member, wrote a great piece for the soon to be published summer KWC newsletter about insects and oaks. I continue to be surprise just how many insects live on tree …

A thorny situation

I was in Galena, Illinois recently, and I came across a honey locust in the forest. It’s definitely not one of the thornless varieties! I was surprised how sharp thorns were, and I jabbed one …

Signs of the past, fungus and snakes

I’m setting up a timber sale west of Viroqua, and I’ve been seeing a lot of neat things in the woods. One of the property boundaries is described as running along the center line of …

A Sloped Wetland

I usually think of wetlands being level. Here is a wetland on slope below a wet cliff. It’s covered in skunk cabbage on Tunnelville Cliffs State Natural Area. Here’s a red oak that snapped off. …

Morels are out, and so are the ferns

I found my first morels of the spring on Saturday, May 18th. I started on a north facing slope, and I didn’t find any. Figuring that the soil hadn’t warmed up enough on the north …

The shagbark hickory buds are opening

Shagbark hickory is one of my favorite trees. It has large winter buds, but when spring comes, they really get big. They almost look like flowers as they swell. Here’s another neat thing I saw …

Tree Flowers

Red maple are some of the first trees to flower in the spring, and the flowers are fun to see. However, in a cold spring like this one, I don’t get too excited about red …

Woody Woodpecker

My wife and I visited a friend near Oulu, Wisconsin last weekend, and when we toured his sugar bush, we saw this maple tree a pileated woodpecker was working on. Pileated woodpeckers are common in …

Invasive Himalayan blackberry in Wisconsin

Himalayan blackberry (Rhubus armeniacus) is a non-native, aggressively invasive blackberry. It is native to Armenia and Iran, and it was imported to the United States in 1885 because its berries are larger and sweeter than …

The beauty of a bird’s nest

This beautiful little nest was about 6 feet off the ground in an ash sapling at the edge of a field. I don’t know what species built it. It’s amazingly sturdy. I cut off the …

Those whacky walnuts

Trees are amazing! A squirrel may have hidden a walnut under this old Massey-Harris Clipper Combine when the combine was first abandoned in the woods, and look at that walnut now. There would be some …

Emerald ash borer and woodpeckers

I am working in a forest near Victory, Wisconsin, and the signs of emerald ash borers are all over. You can clearly see the serpentine galleries of the larvae. The bark has been torn apart by woodpeckers trying to get the larvae.

Heavy snow in a black and white world

Here are a couple of photos from a field day with heavy snow. The heavy snow didn’t last long, but it sure looked pretty. The color photo is a red maple saplings that splintered when …