I made a quick trip up to the Niobrara Valley Preserve this week. As always, there was a treasure trove of unexpected finds. Here are some of them.
Bison calves are growing fast. Their coats have darkened to match the adults, and their horns are starting to look like more than just little bumps.
Bison tend not to hang around wooded areas for shade, but they also like to rub on trees aggressively enough to keep them stunted or even kill them. This bull was one of several bison I saw this week that had apparently been recently rubbing on eastern red cedar trees. Good for them.
Robber flies are amazing predators and always fun to photograph, but this might be my favorite of all time. This gorgeous robber fly landed in a sand blowout and was consuming a leaf hopper.
Sand bluestem (Andropogon hallii) is sometimes lumped with big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and sometimes considered a separate species. I’m not entering that argument. However, sand bluestem (shown here) does tend to have much hairier flowers.
How many of you noticed the small larva in the above photo? I didn’t, until I was going through the photos on the computer the day after taking them. Look below for a more close-up view of the larva. You can see it at its original scale just to the left of the bottom left of the inset image.
Fly larva? Whatever it is, it sure is small. Wouldn’t you love to know what it’s doing there?
This tumbleweed (Russian thistle, aka Salsola iberica) was lodged up against a fence in a big sand blowout.
This tiny pale bee (Perdita perpallida) is a specialist in prairie clovers but I’ve only seen it on one species – Silky prairie clover (Dalea villosa). Its pale color helps it blend in very well. Thanks to Mike Arduser for ID and information.
What is more evocative of the Great Plains than bison grazing in a prairie dog town as the sun goes down over an expansive grassy landscape?