I haven’t done as much photography as I’d like lately. Some of that is because it’s been mostly warm and there’s been a distinct lack of frost, ice, or snow. Over the last couple weeks, though, I’ve managed to get out a couple times. Here are some of the results.
I spent a nice morning at Deep Well Wildlife Management Area last weekend. There was some frost that morning, which provided a little extra incentive for photography. I wandered around the wetland portion of the site for a while, but ended up in the restored prairie pretty quickly. The bright red fruits of wild rose were an immediate draw. I also noticed how many cattail seeds were stuck on prairie plants – even 1/4 mile or more from the wetland. They made nice photos, but as an ecologist, I wasn’t happy to be reminded of the effectiveness with which that invader can spread.
On my way back to the truck I finally noticed the small group of trumpeter swans hanging out in the middle of the wetland. I managed a photo to document their presence, but it wasn’t anything besides that. It was fun to see them – I don’t usually see them outside the Sandhills this time of year.
There was a culvert under the road that splits the wetland into two pieces. On the downstream end of that culvert, I came across a pile of aquatic snails just beneath the thin layer of ice on top of the water. I wasn’t sure if they were dead or alive, but at least some of them definitely weren’t empty. The snails covered an area about the size of a king sized bed and were several layers deep. I’m not sure how to interpret what was happening there, but it was certainly interesting. I might have to go back when it’s warmer and see if I can learn more.
Two weekends ago, I did some work at our family prairie. I was using a spade to reshape the banks of an ephemeral stream (though that makes it sound like more than it really is). Some historic headcutting created some steep banks and I was trying to slope those out a little. As I was digging around, I kept finding big beetles that had buried themselves for the winter. I stopped and photographed one of them. Anyone recognize it? It looks to me like some kind of June beetle, but I’m hesitant even to say that. I tried to rebury all the ones I found – I hope they can return to their winter rest.
I appreciate the warm days we’ve had, but I’m also looking forward to having some snow, ice, or frost to accent the dull browns that dominate the landscape right now. When that happens, I’ll feel more motivated to get out and explore. But that’s also bad attitude on my part. When I force myself to go out, even when there aren’t any icy highlights around, I always find something interesting – just like I always preach to others. I should probably listen to myself a little more…