Friday, October 23, 2009

Midwest Nature Quote of the Week: Oct 23

Some of the best streams of all are the small farmland rivers.  Modest places, rarely spectacular, but lending a measure of freedom and wildness to landscapes that are thoroughly plowed, cowed, and put to cash grain.  In many parts of our Midwest, South and Southeast—rich humid regions that are intensely cultivated—such streams are among best escape routes from the soul-bruising press of modern living.

John Madson, Out Home

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Photographs from the Scarth interview: Part 2

Michigan lily – Michigan lilies (Lilium michiganense) and Turk’s cap lilies (Lilium superbum) are often confused. One way to tell the difference is to look inside the blossom. The Turk’s cap has green triangles at the base of the petals. We sometimes find Michigan lilies in road ditches in northeastern Iowa. 

Sugar Maple leaf – Our maple tree usually turns soft yellow, orange, and red each autumn. Very rarely, it makes fantastic cell designs as it sheds chlorophyll just before dropping its leaves. This is a life-size section of a leaf taped to glass with western evening light behind. The tree is doing something similar this year so our collection of leaf abstracts is growing.

From Deep Nature: Photographs from Iowa

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Interview with Robert & Linda Scarth: Part 2

What advice would you give to younger nature photographers?
Move slowly, walk quietly, look up, look down, and look underneath. It becomes a meditation exercise and you will begin to see more. Use the equipment you currently own in as many ways as you can find or imagine. To paraphrase what Yogi Berra is reputed to have said: “You can see a lot by looking.”

What are your favorite natural areas in Iowa and the Midwest?

Whichever was the last one we visited, especially if we are happy with our images. We keep The Guide to Iowa’s State Preserves book by Ruth Herzberg and John Pearson in our map bag, along with the Iowa County Conservation Board Guide, the Iowa Sportman’s Atlas, and an assortment of notes -- just in case we are in the neighborhood. We have similar notes for nearby states and gazetteers for almost all states.

What areas do you return to regularly?

Locally we often visit the Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center and other Linn County Conservation Board properties. Our yard and garden provide many subjects. We think that we should bloom where we are planted. Rochester Cemetery in Cedar County is another regular site.

What's your favorite newly visited area?
Last spring we visited the River Terrace Prairie Scientific and Natural Area near Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and were amazed at the number of pasqueflowers on this gravel mound deposited during the last ice age.

What are the particular challenges of photographing plants and animals?
Controlling light and dealing with wind are the two biggest challenges for us. We often use square white umbrellas to diffuse light and block wind. The next challenge is working to produce nondistracting out-of-focus backgrounds for portraits.

Robert and Linda Scarth are the photographers of Deep Nature: Photographs from Iowa

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plant of the week: Oct 20

Antennaria plantaginifolia (L.) Richards.
other common names: everlasting, ladies’ tobacco, immortelle, plantain-leaved everlasting
Antennaria: from the resemblance of the pappus to the antennae of certain insects
Plantaginifolia: from the shape of the leaves, which resemble those of the plantain
Daisy family: Asteraceae (Compositae)


Monday, October 19, 2009

This Week in Iowa Nature: Oct 19 - 23

Diving and dabbling ducks and mergansers appear on marshes along oxbow lakes, formed along abandoned river channels. View waterfowl at Cone Marsh, Forney Lake, and DeSoto Bend.

From The Iowa Nature Calendar