I spent a couple long days collecting data at the Niobrara Valley Preserve this week. There wasn’t a lot of time (or light, honestly) for photography other than the first hour of sunlight on Thursday morning. The Sandhills prairie is nearing the end of flowering season and sliding quickly into its fall costume. A few late-season flowers are in full bloom, but the most of the color in the prairie this time of year comes from leaves changing from green to various shades of brown and red. Here are a few photos from yesterday morning.
Sunrise over the Sandhills and Niobrara River, with sunflower skeletons in the foreground.
The flurry of sunflower blooming was nearly over, but a few plants held on to their last blossoms, much to the delight of the bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, and other insects feeding on their pollen and nectar.
Wild rose (Rosa arkansana) had a great fruit year in the Sandhills, especially in recently-burned prairie.
Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolium) is one of the last flowers to bloom in the Sandhills season, and patches were scattered about the prairie.
Smooth sumac in the the middle of its transition to from green to red. In this burned area, skeletons of previous growth are surrounded by the regrowth from the base of the plants.