Monday, October 16, 2017

Photo essay: New Munster Wildlife Area and KD Park in Kenosha County

New Munster is in western Kenosha County, off Highway 50. The drive there took nearly an hour. Gambling with dueling forecasts, one of which showed overcast skies and the other suggesting partly cloudy, I left in the dark and arrived shortly before dawn. The gamble paid dividends when the clouds parted just before the sun rose. Having seen a lake on Google maps in a Kenosha County park across the road from New Munster State Wildlife Area, I went there first. I caught this lovely sunrise and had almost an hour of beautiful light before another cloud bank rolled over.

KD Park is being developed by Kenosha County into what they plan (according to the rather grand sign at the entrance) to call a Sustainable Living Education Park. Sounds interesting. So far it's a looping paved driveway with several small parking lots in a broad grassy clearing that slopes down to the lake.

234-acre KD Park was developed on a former gravel quarry. Its primary feature is the 39-acre lake, which provides opportunities for fishing and non-motorized boating. According to the park website, there are over 4 miles of trails maintained for hiking and cross-country skiing.


When the sun died I crossed the road and parked in the tiny dirt lot at the entrance to the New Munster State Wildlife Area. I'd never heard of it before. Since my recent tour of edible plants at Theresa Marsh I've been on an email list for DNR-sponsored hikes and this one was the next on the schedule. This hike was billed as a birding tour. I always love learning about birds. However, the gloomy overcast sky that had settled in motivated me to use a tripod for my photos and I found myself mostly hanging back peering through the tripod-mounted camera while the birders ranged ahead peering through their binoculars at the cedar waxwings, warblers and whatever else I missed.

The birds were mostly small and high in the canopy, so I focused in on other things.

 The New Munster Wildlife area, established in 1947, encompasses 1226 acres. The DNR website describes it as "predominately oak woodland, lowland woodland, shallow marsh, grassland, and agricultural fields." The DNR stocks the area with pheasant for the hunters. My eyes were opened to this when I asked our guide, Diane Robinson, about the sign: No pheasant hunting after 2:00 p.m. The stocking takes place after 2, she told me, so that there will be birds for the hunters in the morning.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Photo essay: First ever Milwaukee boat parade

A lucky few got to witness firsthand on Saturday Milwaukee's first ever boat parade. If you were not among them then here you have it. Not as good as the real thing, but it'll give you a flavor. The event, which was billed as a first annual, was sponsored by Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Harbor District, Inc. and was held in conjunction with the annual Harbor Fest, which took place on Greenfield Avenue in front of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. Participating boaters were invited to decorate their boats and compete for prizes in two categories: paddle boats and motor or sail boats. The Milwaukee Riverkeeper boat (above) began at Lakefront Brewery, near the Holton Street Bridge on the Milwaukee River. It proceeded downstream, picking up boats along the way.

No, the cruise ships did not join the parade. The kayak did.

In addition to the large elephant (complete with squirting trunk) and human figures, this boat had a large band playing lively tunes.

This boat didn't win an award (I'm guessing it was hosted by one of the sponsoring organizations, which were ineligible) but it was my personal favorite. In case it isn't clear in the photos, the "fish" are fishing for humans!

The pirate canoe in the foreground won second place in the paddler category.
Johnny, wearing the banana costume in the shark kayak, received the first place award in the paddler category.

Kudos to all who participated. If you're a boat owner, watch for next year's boat parade! 

Full disclosure: I am a former board member of Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the current artist in residence for the Harbor District, Inc.