Photo of the Week – July 14, 2016

One of the great things about working for The Nature Conservancy is that I get to do a lot of bison watching.  Just in the last couple weeks I’ve had several opportunities to get close to bison at our Niobrara Valley Preserve.  Even better, I was able to share those experiences with my wife and daughter.

Here is a selection of bison photos from the first half of July…

During a light rain, a young bull pauses amongst golden prairie clover (Dalea aurea) and purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). The Nature Conservancy's Niobrara Valley Preserve.

During a light rain, a young bull pauses in a patch of wildflowers, including golden prairie clover (Dalea aurea) and purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia). The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve.

Young bull

A different young bull (and a different herd) in a patch of lemon scurfpea (Psoralidium lanceolata).

ENPO160703_D011

This quizzical-looking bull is probably a couple years older than those in the previous photos.

This year's calves are already starting to get darker coats.

This year’s calves are already starting to get darker coats.

Cow

Calves didn’t tend to stray too far from their mothers, at least while we were nearby.

One bison had two stick insects and kept trying to shake them off by "shivering"

One bison had two stick insects on its back and kept trying to shake them off by “shivering” violently.

These two bulls seemed to tolerate each other pretty well. That might change later this month as mating season gets underway.

These two massive bulls seemed to tolerate each other pretty well. That might change later this month as mating season gets underway.

My daughter and I tried several times to find bison during our weekend at the Preserve. Finally, as were running out of time and ready to give up and head home, we crested a hill and about 100 bison were spread out in the valley below us.

While Kim and I had no trouble finding bison on our visit, my daughter and I tried and failed several times to find bison during our weekend at the Preserve. Finally, as were running out of time and ready to give up and head home, we crested a hill to find about 100 bison spread out in the valley below us.

A valley full of flowers and bison was a pretty great way to cap a trip to the Sandhills.

 

 

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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11 Responses to Photo of the Week – July 14, 2016

  1. Kim says:

    Lovely photos; I can hear them eating and wandering thru the vegetation. I fortunately get to see the bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County, OK fairly frequently. I love to sit in the vehicle and listen to them eat and grunt. I miss my days of working for the OK Chapter, especially days/work that involved bison. In my next life I want to be a bison (at a TNC preserve) so I too can graze the prairie.

  2. Kim says:

    Oh, one last thing. It amazes me that the one bison could feel the stick insects thru all that thick, coarse fur!

  3. I enjoyed your photos! Is the Niobrara Preserve near the Niobrara State Park? My husband and I went to see his grandmother’s grave in Lynch, Nebraska, and on the way, spent a little time at the state park. We walked to the bridge, but left sooner than we’d planned, when the clouds got dark, and it started to thunder and sprinkle. (We are from Lincoln, and enjoyed your recent workshop in Wood River.)

  4. These photos are great! I love watching bison! @Kim Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking!

  5. Joanne says:

    This has to be on the top of the list of “Your Best” photos It will go into my “Sandhills” email box.

  6. Kody Unstad says:

    I know you are big fan of using cattle to manage prairies, but seeing bison grazing on the landscape stirs something in my heart that cattle just can’t do! Great photos, I stopped by Ft. Niobrara last month to get some of my own bison photos.

  7. savannagal says:

    They sure are majestic and beautiful.

  8. Pat says:

    I grew up hearing a song that said “Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam.” I know better now, but the tongue does slip. :)

  9. Isabel Cohen says:

    Great photos! Thanks!

  10. James C. Trager says:

    I find that young bull with the straighter than average horns of interesting. Looks like a throw-back to something Pleistocene.
    Great photos, as always.

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