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Observations by Gary Fewless for Green Bay WI (Lat.N 44.51° Long. W 88.02° ), except as noted. For flowers lacking conspicuous petals or sepals I define "anthesis" as release of pollen by mature anthers.

December 2001

Observations by Gary Fewless, except as noted


Date Observation (Click on links for photos)
Dec31 Here's the high and low temperatures and average highs and lows for Nov and Dec 2001. The low temperatures were above average every day from Nov 20 through Dec 29 (40 days).
Dec29 Lower Green Bay is iced over beyond the tip of Longtail Point (as far as I can see from the mouth of the Fox River), except at the mouth of the River.

Very little snow on the ground. Not enough to cover all the grass in lawns from Green Bay north to Wausaukee and only about 2 inches in extreme NW Marinette County.

Several people still reporting flocks of Robins (wisbirdnet). Also 25-30 Bald Eagles on the Fox River (where the water remains open at rapids in the Kaukauna area).


WIDNR is still advising snowmobilers and others to stay off all northern lakes, because generally the ice is not yet safe. Some smaller lakes and bays and shorelines have 5-6 inches of ice, but ...caution is recommended.

Snow cover is virtually absent in southern WI and light in northern WI except for the snow belt near Lake Superior which has several feet.


About 1000-2000 Blackbirds (Rusty's and/or Brewers), City of Madison (from wisbirdnet).

The low temperature in Green Bay has been above average for the last 36 days, since November 20.


Although it seems like a strong cold period the temperatures are close to seasonal. Yesterday's low of 11F was the coldest temperature so far this winter in Green Bay, but it is still 2 degrees above the average low for this date.

40 Tundra Swans honking and flying over Waukesha County today, and 112 were noted at the "metro pier" south of Milwaukee (from wisbirdnet).


Snow flurries continue and colder temperatures begin. Click for photos of UWGB's Prairie Pond or the Green Bay shoreline.

The East River froze in Allouez today (previously reported for Dec 20, but it melted. It was open on the 23rd and froze overnight). The table below contains the freeze date for this site in recent years at the east end of Beaupre St. This is the date that it is completely frozen and stays frozen until spring (sometimes it melts and refreezes several times before this state is reached). It may freeze slightly later farther downstream. Notice that the date has ranged over 42 days (from Nov 12 to Dec 24) in these 11 years. The average is about Dec 3.

Year 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Date 12/03 11/27 11/21 12/07 11/14 11/12 12/24 12/21 11/30 12/01 12/24

First measurable snowfall of the winter in Green Bay. The National Weather Service reports 1.2 inches before midnight, and the snow continued into the 24th.

Here's one last look at fresh flowers, from this morning. Temperatures are predicted to fall into the single digits in the next few days.

Several of the Christmas Bird Counts from Wisconsin have reported Baltimore Orioles! Also a report of Ross's Goose from the Madison area (Wisbirdnet). The cold weather approaching should increase bird activity at feeders, where many people have reported low numbers so far.


The East River opened up (lost its full ice cover) at my observation point--stay tuned.

Many of the flowering plants noted earlier (see Dec 15, 11 and 6) persist. Add "Bachelors Buttons" (Centaurea cyanus) and "Pansies" (Viola tricolor) to the list of horticultural species still in flower.


The East River froze today (reference site in Allouez at Beaupre St.). [opened up on the 22nd GF]

Ice is forming along the Green Bay shoreline at UW-Green Bay.


Compare high temperatures of Nov and Dec for this year to last year.

Numerous Canada Geese still present at Horicon Marsh. A minimum of 5000 were seen in this area along Highway 151. The numbers are probably much higher than that. The WIDNR reported 150,000 for Horicon in early November


A few snow flakes in Green Bay, and a bit cooler, but still mild by Wisconsin standards. Lawns (some at least) remain green and robust. There is no general snowcover anywhere in Wisconsin and even northern lakes do not have sufficient ice for ice fishing safely (WIDNR).

Interesting bird sightings continue, with another report of a Cormorant, and Turkey Vultures at Devils Lake. Also a sighting of Short-Eared Owls outside of Neenah (Wisbirdnet).


UWGB's Prairie Pond froze again last night. If the ice stays now it will be more than a month later than in recent years. The table below is updated from Dec 7.

Year 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001
Date of Freeze 11/10 11/12 11/14 11/16 12/18

Wisbirdnet reports 4 Black-crowned Night Herons on the Fox River in Depere, Brown County (near GB).


The ice on UWGB's PrairiePond is completely gone (see Dec 7).

Numerous reports of unusually late sightings of birds in Wisconsin on Wisbirdnet (see
for recent notes or go to to sign up for a mail list). Among the notable sightings are Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Milwaukee area and a Palm Warbler in Rock County.

Dec16 Christmas bird counts reporting many unusual species (more on this later). A Cormorant was also sighted along the west shore of Green Bay in Oconto County, as well as Tundra Swans and Sandhill Cranes (Tom Erdman) .

To the list of plants still in flower (see Dec 6 and 11), five additional species were added on Dec 15: Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua), Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa), Mayweed (Anthemis cotula), Leafy-stemmed Plantain (Plantago psyllium = P. indica ), Awl Aster (Aster pilosus), Evening Lychnis (Lychnis alba). All were found along the Fox River Trail in City of Green Bay. Five species found earlier could not be relocated on 12/15: Aster simplex, Bidens cernua, B. frondosa, Cornus stolonifera and Potentilla recta, although they may still be flowering. All these species can be expected to continue flowering until this mild weather ends. This brings to 37 the number of species observed flowering outside of cultivation in the City of Green Bay in December. Add Periwinkle (Vinca minor) to the list of horticultural species still flowering .

A lone Double-crested Cormorant was noted on the Fox River north of the Main Street bridge.

Dec14 The ice cover on UWGB's Prairie Pond has begun melting. Only about 50 percent ice cover remains and the forecast suggests it will all melt soon. My records are all for the start of continuous ice, so this item remains open for this year (see notes for Dec 7).

Warm weather has melted most snow in the north and lake ice is entering the awkward stage in which ice along the shorelines may be too thick for boating and too thin to walk on. Snowmobile trails are virtually all closed due to lack of snow.

Several dead Opossums noted on the highways yesterday in Door County.

Black bears are apparently still out. The WI DNR reports three bear/auto collisions in the last two weeks in Marinette Co.

Tundra Swans still on Green Bay and WIDNR reports large flocks still on the Mississippi River in Crawford County and in the Lacrosse area.

Northern Shrike on UWGB Campus (Andy Paulios and Pete Wolter).


Boehmian Waxwings on UW Green Bay campus (129+) (Tom Erdman).

Several people have informed me that Sandhill Cranes are still present at several locations in Wisconsin, including Green Bay's west shore in Oconto County, probably fairly widely present yet. Also Tundra Swans are still present in substantial numbers on Green Bay along with flocks of Robins, Redwing Blackbirds, Grackles.

Two people have reported Chipmunks still active in the City of Green Bay.

Late notes: Leopard Frog along Green Bay shore, Oconto Co., Dec 05 (Tom Erdman);
at Point Au Sauble, in Brown County, Dec 8 (Rusty Japuntich).
Roy Lukes reports a Mourning Cloak butterfly in Door County November 29.


Warm weather continues. Yesterday's high of 45 was 16 degrees F above the long term average. The coldest temperature so far this Fall was 19 F on Dec 9, which is still 4 degrees above the average low for that date. Sunny skies and green grass today could easily pass for a day in October.

Of the 31 plants species noted in flower for Dec 2, most if not all are still flowering. We can add Pineapple Weed (Matricaria matricarioides), seen today at UWGB.

Wisbirdnet reports Sandhill Cranes in Jefferson County on Dec 9.


Ice has formed on the beach at UWGB, but not on the open water of Green Bay.

The warm weather has enabled a cover crop of Oats (Avena sativa)to produce this bright green growth on a fall savanna planting on UWGB's Cofrin Arboretum. It was planted Oct 9 and the plan was for it to germinate next Spring, but we didn't expect it to remain so warm this Fall. It will be frozen eventually, but perhaps there is enough growth already to prevent erosion and to discourage the early growth of agricultural weeds next spring. The best laid plans...


Yesterday's sunny afternoon brought out a number of insects on UWGB's Cofrin Arboretum, including a grasshopper and this unknown insect (in the Order Hemiptera).

Tree Sparrows finally returned to my feeders today (although others have reported small numbers for several weeks--see Nov 26 and 28). The dates for recent years at this site are shown below.

Year 1995 1997 1998 1999 2001
Date 11/08 11/13 11/07 11/02 12/08

Snapdragons still flowering, City of Green Bay (Vicki Medland).

Flicker at Point Au Sauble, in Brown County, Dec 8 (Rusty Japuntich).

Dec07 There was thin ice on UWGB's "prairie pond" this morning. Here are the dates for first permanent ice on this pond over the last few years (lacking 1998). [*late note: this ice melted 12/14, and froze again 12/18, GF]
Year 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001
Date 11/10 11/12 11/14 11/16 12/07*

WI DNR had first reported thin ice on some northern lakes during the last week.

Yesterday's high of 64F was a new record for that date and was the highest temperature ever recorded for December in Green Bay. The low was 39. The average high and low are 32 and 17 respectively. Last year on Dec 5 the high was 20 and the low was 2.

Many Canada Geese on Green Bay, off the shoreline of UWGB's Cofrin Arboretum.

This week's "Photo of the Week" discusses the numerous plants still in flower in the Green Bay Area.


Yesterday's high temperature of 60 F in Green Bay was the highest ever recorded for that date. The low temperature was 46, which is 14 degrees warmer than the average high for that date.

Add Common orache (Atriplex patula) to the list of plants still flowering in the City of Green Bay (see entries for Dec 1 and 3).

Earthworms out on the street and sidewalks this morning in Allouez, and fresh earthworm castings (evidence of their activity at the soil surface) have been widespread over the last several days.

Some garden flowers still flowering in the Green Bay area and there are still some bright green lawns, as here beside UWGB's new Mary Ann Cofrin Hall.

Leopard Frog along Green Bay shore, Oconto Co., Dec 05 (Tom Erdman)

Dec04 The Tundra Swans apparently returned to Green Bay late Saturday. By all accounts that is conspicuously late for their return, although I don't have any data on the long term patterns.

NOAA is predicting below average temperatures for the winter, but we are off to a warm start for December. A high temperature of about 50 F is predicted for today [that was in fact the high, GF 12/04]. The average high for Dec 3 is 33 F.

White Clover (Trifolium repens) is in flower on the UWGB campus. That brings the total to 30 species that are still in flower in the City of Green Bay as of 12/03/01.


Thin ice on ponds in Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve near Green Bay's west shore (the low temperature last night was 24 F).

A flock of Tundra Swans was noted on Green Bay offshore from Sensiba Wildlife Area.


November 2001 was the warmest November on record for Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison. For Green Bay the daily average temperature was 9 F above the long term average and the high temperature was only at or below the average on 2 days for the entire month. For 20 of the 30 days the daily low temperature did not fall below freezing. We had 1.7 inches of precipitation for the month which is 0.46 inches below average.

All the plant species listed in flower on Nov 22 and 23 were still in flower along the Fox River Trail on Saturday morning, plus the following species found by extending the bike ride a little further into Depere: Nodding Beggar-ticks (Bidens cernua), Common Beggar-ticks (Bidens frondosa), Small Peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa), Brome Grass (Bromus inermis), Rough-fruited Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta).

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Last updated on May 20, 2015