Winter is an excellent time to challenge your botanical ability. With a little practice even a budding botanist can recognize the difference between the winter seed pods of say, Velvet-leaf, Abutilon theophrasti, and Jimsonweed, Datura stramonium.
A little plant knowledge could go a long way unraveling some habitat mysteries, let's use another lakefront owl photo as an example. As our boat cruised along the Burke Airport, some discussion ensued as to whether there was dry-land or wetland type habitat beyond the breakwall and our field of view.
Botany clues in this photo suggest to me: dry-land behind the Snowy Owl. The Horseweed, Conyna canadensis, common to fields and roadsides, is visible just to the left of the staircase. However, the large plant to the right has been haunting me for days now. -Botanical suggestions would be welcomed, please help me put my mind to rest.
Further east of this owl there were large stands of Common reed, Phragmites australis, which are clearly a wetland indicator and would suggest a wet area between the breakwall and the airstrips.
If you want to learn more about winter botany, check out the book my friend Jan Kennedy just gave me, Season of Promise, by June Carver Roberts. The lovely line drawings and water colors of an amazing array of stems and seed heads depicted in it make a Weedpicker want to get outside and look at some winter botany!