The Answer to Yesterday’s Plant Quiz

Buckbrush in bloom.

Another look at the flowers.

Many thanks to everyone who guessed at the identity of the plant species featured in yesterday’s post.  Here is another photo of the same plant species in bloom, from a little further away.  The species is commonly named “buckbrush”, which actually refers to a couple different species in the genus Symphoricarpos.  I believe this particular one is wolfberry, aka western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), though it can be difficult to tell without seeing the fruits.  Wolfberry has white or light-colored fruits, while its cousin coralberry has red fruits.  Both grow together in many of our Nebraska prairies.  I’ve included a photo of coralberry fruits below – I don’t have a good photo of wolfberry with white berries.

This is a photo of coralberry, a close relative of wolfberry.  The two species look very similar except that coralberry has red fruits and wolfberry fruits are white.

This is a photo of coralberry, a close relative of wolfberry. The two species look very similar except that coralberry has red fruits and wolfberry fruits are white.

Taken together as buckbrush, coralberry and snowberry are seen as “weeds” by many ranchers and range scientists.  I suppose there is some degree of competition for resources with grass, but buckbrush is a low-growing shrub (often two feet tall or less) and I usually see it in loose colonies with plenty of grass still growing between plants.  At least in the prairies I’m familiar with, cattle graze right through the buckbrush colonies and get the grass they’re looking for.  In my family prairie, my grandpa and other relatives spent years spraying patches of buckbrush, trying – unsuccessfully – to eliminate them.  In the nearly 15 years that I’ve been helping to manage the site, we’ve not sprayed the patches, and I don’t think they’ve grown any bigger during that time.

On the positive side buckbrush berries are apparently highly sought as a food source by wildlife species.  In addition, because it’s a short-statured woody plant, it doesn’t significantly change the habitat structure of a grassland in ways that would negatively impact most grassland wildlife.  It’s also very pretty…

When I teach our staff and visitors how to identify buckbrush, I adapt the mnemonic device “MAD Buck”, which was intended to remind people of the common eastern North American trees that have opposite branching – Maple, Ash, Dogwood, and Buckeye.  In this case, since we don’t have Buckeye in the Platte River Prairies, I just substitute Buckbrush.  Most other woody species have alternate branching.  (Opposite branching means that each branch is paired with another one right across the stem from it, rather than staggered.)

Thanks again to all who submitted guesses yesterday.  The first to jump in with the correct answer was Quinn Long (who ought to know since he’s a professional botanist) so, as promised, he is awarded 400 points.  Quinn, you can redeem those points at any retailer you can talk into it.

Good luck with that.

Oh, and several people guessed “milkweed”, which is understandable based on the appearance of the leaves in that particular photo.  However, the flowers of milkweed have a very distinctive shape – see below – that is pretty different from that of buckbrush.  It’s okay, though, you don’t lose any points for guessing incorrectly!

Swamp milkweed, displaying the distinctive flowers of milkweed.  Notice the conspicuous absence of visible anthers (the little appendages that hold pollen).

Swamp milkweed, displaying the distinctive flowers of milkweed. Notice the conspicuous absence of visible anthers (the little appendages that hold pollen).

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

What’s This Flower?

It’s been a while since we’ve done a plant identification quiz, so let’s see how you do.  Can you identify this common prairie flower?  It is found throughout the eastern half of the United States.  While it has a beautiful flower, this plant is rarely recognized for that trait.  Many ranchers in Nebraska would love to get rid of it because they think it reduces the amount of livestock forage in native pastures.  I’m skeptical that its impact is significant in most cases.  Regardless, it’s been mowed and sprayed for years but still persists, which is fortunate since its fruits/seeds are highly sought after by wildlife.

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What do you think?  Put your answers in the comments section below (if you can’t see the comments section, click on the title of this post and then try again).  400 points to the first person to correctly identify it.

I’ll post the answer tomorrow, along with some more information on the species.

 

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , | 16 Comments

New Date! – Next Platte River Prairies Field Day is August 27, 2014

Our next Field Day will be on August 27 – – NOT August 29, 2014.  It was pointed out to me by several people that it might be a bad idea to schedule a field day on the Friday of Labor Day weekend.  My only excuse is that on my paper calendar (yes, I still use paper) I couldn’t see ahead to the next week to see that Monday was Labor Day.  Plus, I just didn’t think about it.

So, please consider joining us in the Platte River Prairies on Wednesday AUGUST 27 for a day of hiking, natural history, and prairie management and restoration discussion!

Late August is a great time to visit the Platte River Prairies - the grasslands are loaded with yellows and golds, accented with pinks and whites, and rich with texture.

Late August is a great time to visit the Platte River Prairies – the grasslands are loaded with yellows and golds, accented with pinks and whites, and rich with texture.

The agenda is under construction, but I’ll post it soon.  In the meantime, please make sure you the put the right date (AUGUST 27) on your calendar – paper or digital.  We’ll have a full day of events and activities, and you can stop by for some or all of them.

See you then!

(Did I mention that the date has changed to August 27?  That’s a Wednesday, not a Friday)

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Photo of the Week – July 24, 2014

I’m definitely a better close-up photographer than a landscape photographer.  Part of that is just the way my mind works – I tend to look down instead of up when I walk around a prairie.  I can always find an interesting flower or insect to photograph when the light is good for photography, but I have a harder time constructing an interesting composition or the larger landscape.  There are so many things to think about with landscape photos; foreground, background, sky, leading lines – or not… ack!  As a result, when the light is pretty, I usually look around for something small and interesting.

However, there are days and places where even I can take good landscape photos, and yesterday was a perfect example.  I got up early enough to drive the 35 minutes between my house and our Platte River Prairies before sunrise.  I’d been eyeing the prolific blooming of fourpoint evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala) in the sandhills on the edge of the river valley.  It’s been several years since we’ve seen a big explosion of primrose flowers, and this year’s seemed even more spectacular than the last one.

At the first glimpse of the sun, I knew it was a going to be good morning.  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

At the first glimpse of the sun, I knew it was a going to be good morning. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Before the sun popped over the horizon, I wandered around and pretended there was enough light to make good photographs, knowing that I was only shooting because digital photos are free…  Once the sun appeared, though, things got serious.

Goodness gracious

Fourpoint evening primroses all the way to the horizon.

How can you not take great photos when you’re surrounded by big yellow flowers, the sky is filled with gorgeous clouds, and the light is coming in low and warm?  I scurried around with my camera and tripod, trying composition after composition, and liking each one more than the one previous.  The biggest difficulty was trying to come up with photographs that really showed the size, scope, and abundance of the flowers in real life.  My wide angle lens felt insufficiently wide for the scene.

More primoses

More primroses

I ended up with hundreds of photographs of primroses.  I stayed up late last night trying to go through them and pick out a handful to use for today’s post.  I felt good when I narrowed them down to 20, but that’s way too many for one blog post – especially when they all look about the same…  I went to sleep dreaming about fields of yellow.

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This morning, I managed to narrow it down to the photos you see here, but it was painful.  Stop by sometime and I’ll show you the others…!

The ecology behind the photos

So why are there so many fourpoint evening primroses this year?  Across the sandy prairies of Nebraska, fourpoint primrose is having a good year, though maybe not as good of a year as sunflowers had last year.  Fourpoint evening primroses are biennial plants, so they typically germinate and form a rosette (just leaves, no vertical stems) in their first year of life and then bloom and die in their second – leaving behind many thousands of seeds to kickstart the next generation.  They are not strong competitors with grasses, so fourpoint primroses can’t germinate in years when the vegetation is dense.

Ok, I did take a FEW close-ups too.  Every day, the primose opens a new row of buds as the previous days' flowers wilt.  Judging by the unopened buds at the tops of these flowers, we'll be seeing yellow for a while yet.

Ok, I did take a FEW close-ups too. Every day, the primrose opens a new row of buds as the previous days’ flowers wilt. Judging by the unopened buds at the tops of these flowers, we’ll be seeing yellow for a while yet.

The year 2012 was the most severe one-year drought on record for our area.  That weakened the grasses in our sandhills prairie.  Coincidentally, however, we also burned and grazed those hills in 2012.  As a result, by July, the hills were covered in very short brown grass and not much else because the plants had given up and gone dormant in the face of intense grazing and no soil moisture.  It looked pretty tough.  We had better moisture in 2013, and the grasses started their slow recovery, but there was a lot of open space between them that was colonized by annual plants (such as annual sunflowers).  However, another major colonizer was fourpoint evening primrose.  Unlike the sunflowers, however, the primrose plants didn’t bloom last year – they bided their time and soaked in the sun, water, and nutrients made available by the low density of plants surrounding them.  Then, this summer – 2 years after the drought – they made their move and exploded onto the scene with resplendent glory.  Or something.  Anyway, they sure are pretty.

We’ve had lots of rain this year, and we’re not grazing those sandhills this year, so the grass is getting pretty dense beneath the primrose flowers.  That means we won’t see many primroses next year or the year after.  That’s ok, they’ll wait – and when the time is right, they’ll be back.

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Prairie Ecologist Spam

Ok, this is pretty tangential, but I just have to share.

One component of this blog that is hidden to everyone but me is the abundance of spam comments that show up in my queue, waiting to be approved or deleted.  A spam filter catches many of them, but a fair number still slip through.  While they are annoying, some of these fake comments can also be relatively entertaining – depending upon what kind of mood I’m in.  Right now, my mood is such that I think they’re funny.  See what you think…

Some of the comments are clearly just random words put together in the hope that they will sneak past the computer-driven spam filter.  Here are a couple recent examples:

“Ϲoaϲh Factorfy Online Canada Houseknecht told police hе wouldn’t see tҺem biild a bаse, and realized he previously been scammed.”There not another facility while using the production capability we have now here,” said Flеtcher.  Usain Boolt S Coach еel exceptional on his or her birthday cеlebration”It comes with a connectiion right now.All the wɑs being attempting ravishing, Nonetheless, there were clearky anything ononsense working with her perfectly seeing that.”

“Notch the ground, and gravel. Now, the ethical dilemmas that unlicensed contractors face a maximum penalty of five Cubans sentenced to nearly $1. The third tip is to consult your local municipal offices and manufacturing, to increase the likelihood of mold and mildew. ReliableRemodeler com offers homeowners a simple and only unlicensed contractors way they recommend to area. To conclude with, and on time, every contractor satisfied and comfortable through these holes and cracks.”

Other times, spammers use language that is strongly complimentary, hoping that I will approve the comment and their website address will show up next to their published comment.  Often, I can tell they are spam just by the broad nature of the comments (having nothing to do with the topic of the post), but now and then I have to look at the name of the supposed commenter to be sure.  Here are a few of the complimentary versions:

“I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.  It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Exceptional work!”

“I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.”

“Thanks in support of sharing such a pleasant opinion, post is nice, thats
why i have read it entirely”

Many of the spam comments are clearly written by non-native English speakers (e.g, the last of the above “complimentary” examples).  This can lead to some accidental, but very funny prose.  The following is the funniest spam comment I’ve seen yet:

“Excellent web site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you in your sweat!”

Hee hee!

Ok, this is a prairie blog, not BuzzFeed, so let me at least give you something with some relevance to prairies…  Look!  Here’s a picture of a sensitive briar (Mimosa quadrivalvus) flower!

A close-up photo of the flower of sensitive briar, aka cat's claw, aka Mimosa quadrivalvus, aka Schrankia nuttallii.

A close-up photo of a flower of sensitive briar, aka cat’s claw, aka Mimosa quadrivalvus, aka Schrankia nuttallii.

Here's the same flower, photographed from slightly further away to give you a little context.

Here’s the same flower, photographed from slightly further away to give you a little context.

If you want to learn more about sensitive briar, you can read this previous post.

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Watching Wetland Water Levels – Timelapse Photography

It’s timelapse photography time again…  I downloaded more photos from the cameras at our restored wetland in the Platte River Prairies a couple weeks ago, and have been looking through the images for stories.  One theme that stood out in this batch was the variability of the water level in the wetland through time.

This wetland is directly connected to the water table, but is also supplied by a groundwater-fed stream that brings both rainwater and groundwater from about 25 miles west of us.  Platte River flows and irrigation pumping both influence the water table here in the Platte Valley, as does evapotranspiration by plants – and other factors.  It’s a complicated series of events and processes.  However, in general, we expect the water table to be relatively high in the spring and to decline as summer progresses.  I looked at photos from early June and early July (below) and that pattern of summer decline is apparent this year.

June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014.  A panoramic image created by merging photos from two adjacent timelapse cameras.

July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014.  You can click on each photo to see a larger/sharper version of it.

Seeing the pattern of water level rise and fall through weeks and months is interesting, and timelapse photography allows us to watch that pattern pretty easily.  However, it’s also interesting to look at shorter-duration patterns.  I shared one example of that back in December, with a series of images showing daily water level drops due to evapotranspiration.  Today, I’m sharing a second example of short-term water level changes – this time, it’s due to water coming downstream after a rain event.

In the early morning of June 21, 2014, a big storm system moved through our area, dumping between 2 and 4 inches of rain.  The map below shows the precipitation amounts from that storm.

This photo from http://water.weather.gov/precip/ shows rain amounts for our area on June 21.  The black arrow indicates the location of our wetland.

This image from the National Weather Service (http://water.weather.gov/precip/) shows rain amounts for our area on June 21. The black arrow indicates the location of our wetland.

Rainwater from the storm swelled the stream that flows into our wetland, but also created runoff flow throughout the watershed.  The Youtube video below shows the water level changes in our wetland through the day on June 21, 2014, starting at 7am and ending at 8pm.  The changing light conditions from image to image make it a little difficult to see, so you may have watch it several times to get the full effect.  The foreground, the green peninsula on the left, and the little island just left of center are all good landmarks to help see the water level change.

There’s nothing earth-shattering about stream or wetland water levels rising and falling after a big rain event.  On the other hand, it’s not often we get the opportunity to actually see it happen.  Timelapse photography gives us the opportunity to compress time and see natural processes from a different perspective.  For me, at least, that opportunity helps me better understand and appreciate the variability of the earth we live on.

As always, thanks to Moonshell Media for their help with this timelapse photography project.  If you’re interested in exploring timelapse photography for conservation purposes, you can contact them at 402 817 4313 or info@moonshellmedia.com.

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Photo of the Week – July 17, 2014

A couple weeks ago, I posted a photo of a sunset from the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  In the post, I talked about having to scramble to get into position for the photo before the color left the sky.  Barely a week later, I found myself in the same situation again…

This time, I was at home in the evening, playing an indoor game with my 13-year-old son.  A rainstorm passed through while we played, and as the storm was moving away, the sky started to light up in one of those Great Plains post-storm sunset spectacles.  Mammatus clouds abounded, along with lots of color and texture.  As my son and I enjoyed the view through the window, he told me I should really be out taking pictures.  I replied that I was perfectly happy enjoying the view with him, and that we were in the middle of a game.  A few minutes later, however, the sky was even more spectacular and, since he was insisting, I grabbed my camera and ran for it.

A sky like that deserved a decent foreground, and ideally, I wanted something that could reflect the light.  I jumped in the car and drove west toward the nearest wetland (9 miles away).  As I drove, I was watching the already-fading color and receding clouds through my rear-view mirror…  After what seemed like an hour-and-a-half, I finally reached the wetland and jumped out of the car.

Post-storm clouds over a wetland at Springer Waterfowl Production Area, west of Aurora, Nebraska.

Post-storm clouds over a wetland at Springer Waterfowl Production Area, west of Aurora, Nebraska.

I had time for about one photograph facing east (above) before the color in that part of the sky faded completely.  However, there was still a little color to the west, so I hopped over to a different wetland pool and tried to set something up in that direction.  I’d pulled on some knee-high rubber boots, which did me no good at all as I waded into thigh-high water…

Last light at Springer.

Last light at Springer.

I managed to shoot a few frames before the light disappeared, and then slogged my way back to the bank and dumped my boots out on the gravel road.  Then I squished my way back to the car and drove back home to have a shower.

 

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Longhorns on the Prairie

One of the great things about prairies – and nature in general – is that there is way more to discover than I’ll ever have time for.  Especially within the world of invertebrates, there is no shortage of species to learn about, and every one of them has a fascinating story.  During the last two weeks, I’ve started paying attention to longhorned flower beetles, a group of species I’d noticed before while looking for bees.  Not surprisingly, once I started really looking at them, I discovered that there are multiple species and that they are much more common than I’d realized.

This longhorned beetle is likely Typocerus confluens, according to Ted MacRae.  There were a couple different (but similar) species around the day I took these photos.

This longhorned beetle is likely Typocerus confluens, according to Ted MacRae, but he said there are others that look enough like it he can’t tell for sure from a photograph.   The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

These beetles belong to the “flower longhorn” group of insects (family Cerambycidae, subfamily Lepturinae).  Adult flower longhorns are largely diurnal (active during the day) and feed upon a wide variety of wildflowers.  When I started looking for information on longhorns, I turned to Ted MacRae, an entomologist and author of the fantastic blog, “Beetles in the Bush“.

Ted helped me identify the species I’d been able to photograph around here, and gave me some good information on what longhorns are all about.  Ted, by the way, has documented at least 229 species and subspecies of longhorn beetles in Missouri.  That information made me feel better about being unable to identify my photographed beetles myself, but also strikingly ignorant about a very diverse group of insects I’d never really noticed before.  (Such is the way it usually goes with insects.)

Ted thought this was probably Typocerus octonotatus, a common Great Plains species of longhorned beetles.

Ted thought this was probably Typocerus octonotatus, a common Great Plains species of longhorned beetles.  You might think it looks just like the T. confluens in the earlier photo, but look more closely at the color pattern…  I know, right?!   Helzer Family Prairie, near Stockham, Nebraska.

Flower longhorn beetles are named for their habit of feeding on wildflowers as adults.  As larvae, on the other hand, most longhorn beetles are wood-borers.  That includes many (most?) members of the Typocerus genus – the genus of beetles I’ve been seeing.  However, Ted says the larvae of many Typocerus species in the Great Plains are actually subterranean root feeders on prairie grasses.  That, of course, seems a much more sensible strategy for insects in landscapes with only widely scattered woodland habitats.

Face on.

A longhorned beetle with a face full of pollen.

Now that I’ve started to pay attention to longhorned flower beetles, I’ll probably never ignore them again.  That’s both a blessing and a curse.  I love learning about new species, but it makes prairie hikes go more slowly because the more species I recognize, the more there is to see.  If this keeps up, it’ll take me all day to walk 100 yards!

Thanks to reading this post, your mind has also been infected with the visual image of longhorn flower beetles.  The next time you walk through a prairie, you’ll likely spot more than one.  (You might want to budget just a little more time for that prairie walk, by the way – sorry about that!)

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Introducing the New Hubbard Fellows!

We have entered the second year of our Hubbard Fellowship program.  Eliza Perry and Anne Stine completed their Fellowships earlier this season, and we brought in two new Fellows, Jasmine and Dillon, on June 2nd.   They have seen and learned a lot in their first month or so with us, and have agreed to introduce themselves and share some of their early perspectives here in their first of many blog posts.  Dillon’s essay is first, followed by Jasmine’s.

Dillon Blankenship and Jasmine Cutter (with her new hat!) at The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve.

 Dillon Blankenship is an Arkansas native and graduated from Hendrix College in 2012 with a B.A. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies.  He has studied native pollinators at The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in Oregon and has volunteered with TNC in Arkansas where he helped burn and monitor the effects of burning.  He earned a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 2012, and spent a year studying honey bees and hive management.  His travel took him to England, Wales, Tanzania, Egypt, India, Russia, and Germany. 

Growing up in northwest Arkansas I was always on the cusp of the Great Plains. My home was definitively in “the woods,” but we shared a property boundary with a neighbor’s herd of bison. I was so close, but I can’t say I had a lot of real contact with prairies until college when I took a summer research position with Oregon State University. They had me chasing native bees in diverse ecosystems across the state, but working on the 33,000 acre Zumwalt Prairie Preserve was, by far, the highlight. I was completely awestruck by the landscape’s expansiveness. Wildflowers stretched to the horizon and I marveled at how, despite the gently undulating hills and absence of trees, it was still possible to lose oneself.

While different from the prairie in eastern Oregon, I have thoroughly enjoyed the last five weeks in Wood River. I identify with the rural-ness out here and am consistently taken by the beauty of our prairie. Stewardship is rewarding work. When I chop a musk thistle or pull up poison hemlock I can see the immediate impact of my effort. I know these actions are a mere drop in the conservation bucket (and that there is often a sad, high possibility of another invader filling the spot I just opened with my spade), but applying my knowledge and skills to real management is something I have been craving for the last few years. I am excited to be in the fray of the conservation profession. Researchers come through with interesting projects, new conservation issues arise for discussion, and I get to be a part of it now. I am excited for all the new experiences and opportunities for professional development that await. Already, I have learned a lot – the depth with which I look across the landscape has probably quintupled. I am recognizing species that were completely foreign when I arrived and am beginning to make inferences about how the land is functioning and responding to the various pressures we place on it.

 

Jasmine and Dillon, along with intrepid volunteer, Sam Sommers (middle) work on some plant identification in the Platte River Prairies.

Jasmine and Dillon, along with intrepid volunteer, Sam Sommers (middle) work on some plant identification in the Platte River Prairies.

Jasmine Cutter grew up in Delaware but is a 2013 graduate of Carleton College in Minnesota.  She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and most recently was working as a research assistant in the Greater Yellowstone Area, surveying mountain goats and bighorn sheep.  Jasmine has conducted several pollinator surveys as a research assistant, and she has extensive experience as an interpretive educator when she served with Americorps at White Clay State Park in Delaware and with “Kids for Conservation” and the Science Olympiad in Minnesota. 

I first fell in love with prairies in Minnesota. At first I think I liked the novelty – that there could be a landscape that was grass, flowers, and sky – and no trees! As an east-coaster that was pretty crazy. Although there was plenty to see aboveground, I was awed when I first learned that the extent of prairie plants’ roots are often 2-3 times greater than what is visible above. I marveled that these huge root systems allow plants to regrow after fires, and to contribute to the regeneration and retention of nutrients. In addition, I was fascinated by the human aspect of how intentionally-set fires perpetuated the prairies, and how the agricultural productivity of the midwest (and great plains) has been enabled by the rich prairie soils.

For all of these reasons – aesthetic, ecological, cultural – I am excited to be in Nebraska. Already it’s hard to keep track of everything we’ve done. For the most part, we’ve been subduing musk thistles, but we’ve also been catching small mammals (cute photos to follow, I promise), tearing down windmills, learning our plants, cleaning ATVs, meeting TNC people from across the country, building bottomless tanks, hosting a field day, swabbing tadpoles, planting our garden, and learning how TNC functions. I am really excited to build competency in many areas that I currently know nothing about: livestock/grazing, vehicle and tool maintenance, driving large machines, and learning the nitty-gritty of how to plan and assess restoration projects. Although we have big shoes to fill, I’m also looking forward to this blog, and to a chance to hear from all you folks. I greatly value the comments that I have read on previous posts, and I know that they have enhanced my understanding of many topics – so please share your expertise and insights!

 

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Photo of the Week – July 10, 2014

When I was at the Niobrara Valley Preserve in late June, I did some macro photography, in addition to the sunset photo I showed last week.  Here are four photos from that trip.

Echinacea angustifolia

Purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia) is in the loamier soil along the edges of the river bluffs, but doesn’t seem to stray out into the sandhills to the south.

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Grasshopper on spiderwort

This grasshopper didn’t really my lens pointing at it, but wasn’t quite nervous enough to jump away.

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If I didn't know leadplant (Amorpha canescens) was a legume, I'd never guess by looking at the flowers.

If I didn’t know leadplant (Amorpha canescens) was a legume, I’d never guess by looking at the flowers.  Leadplant is one of the most common wildflowers in sandhills prairie.

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I keep seeing this caterpillar at different sites.  It must be pretty common - or maybe it just doesn't hide well.  Regardless, I enjoy taking portraits of it.

I think I keep seeing this caterpillar species (salt marsh caterpillar?) at different sites. It must be pretty common – or maybe it just doesn’t hide well. Alternatively, I’m mistakenly calling different species the same thing…  Regardless, I enjoy taking portraits of it.

 

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments