Photo of the Week – May 17, 2019

Spring is slowly progressing. I helped the Platte River Prairies crew build some fence yesterday in 94 degree weather, which seemed incongruous with the continuing (relative) scarcity of flowers. Puccoons (Lithospermum spp) are blooming, along with ragworts (Senecio plattensis) and a few other species, but many others are still keeping their buds tightly closed. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing more color within the next few weeks. Most grassland breeding birds have finally returned, though we’re still awaiting the arrival of dickcissels.

Bobolink male. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. (Cropped liberally from the original image…)

I was out hiking this morning and the light was nice, but since the breeze made flower photography difficult, I resorted to wildlife photography. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I lack the patience to sit for hours in a photography blind in order to get good wildlife photos, and I don’t have a big telephoto lens. Instead, I rely on finding less wary (less smart?) individual animals that let me get close enough to take reasonably good photos of them.

This cottontail hid in a patch of tall grass as I drove through one of our prairies in my truck. It let me creep up close enough (in the truck) to get a few photos before it finally had enough and scampered off.
Killdeer are not shy about announcing their presence, both when trying to lead interlopers away from their nest and just as a general rule. This one was no exception (to the general rule) but also let me sidle up to it awkwardly (in my truck again). Again, this photo is cropped fairly significantly.

This last photo is from a couple weeks ago. I was at our prairie, cutting down some locust trees and generally enjoying the day while a thunderstorm rolled past to the north. As the storm receded into the eastern sky, the trailing clouds made for some attractive landscape photo opportunities. Here is one of my favorites from that evening.

The Helzer Family Prairie in early May.
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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.

5 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – May 17, 2019

  1. The photos are delightful, particularly that last landscape. I saw my first dickcissel near Fredericksburg two weeks ago. I heard the song, and at first thought it was a meadowlark; I was thrilled to look at the photo and discover the dickcissel.

    • Your photos really show the scale of the plants. Most photos of Carex brevior make the plants look much larger than reality.

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