During our trip to the Grassland Restoration Network workshop in Minnesota last week, several of us got up early enough to catch sunrise at The Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie on two beautiful mornings. I shared a few photos from those outings last week, but thought I’d post a few more today. I’ve got lots more…it wasn’t hard to find subject matter to photograph!
Leadplant (Amorpha canescens) and other wildflowers abound on The Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie near Glyndon, Minnesota.
Marsh hedge nettle, aka woundwort (Stachys palustris).
The cool dewy morning allowed me to get pretty close to this roosting monarch butterfly…
This beetle was feeding its way across the top of this Flodman’s thistle (Cirsium flodmanii) – at least I think that’s what I think the thistle species was… it’s always dangerous to guess when I’m far from home.
Common milkweed flower buds can be just as attractive as the open flowers…
This bee spent the night on a milkweed leaf and wasn’t quite warm and dry enough to fly off when I spotted it. If you look carefully, you can see pollinia stuck on two (maybe three?) of its feet. If you’re not familiar with the fascinating (and unlikely) story of how milkweed is pollinated, you can learn more here.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). This is a species we don’t find very often in the Platte River Prairies (though it’s fairly common nearby) so I always enjoy seeing and photographing it when I can. As with other “composite” flowers, coneflowers are actually collections (composites) of two kinds of flowers – the ray flowers that look like petals and the disk flowers in the center. Occasionally, as in this case, a genetic signal gets crossed and ray flower pops up where a disk flower should be.
If you find yourself traveling to or through northwestern Minnesota (just east of Fargo, ND), I encourage you to make the time to visit Bluestem Prairie Scientific and Natural Area. You can find directions and more information on the site here. The Nature Conservancy owns about 6,000 acres of prairie there, and their ownership is bolstered by several other tracts of conservation land right next door. The prairie hosts nesting prairie chickens and beautiful tracts of northern tallgrass prairie. It’s worth the trip to see it.