Photos of the Week – May 10, 2020

I had a very pleasant hike last night at Gjerloff Prairie, a nearby site owned and managed by Prairie Plains Resource Institute. It was breezy, which made photography challenging, but there was a lot going on. Rain from earlier in the day was moving off to the east, and the cloud remnants were trailing behind the front, breaking up as they followed.

This time of year, flowers are becoming more abundant, but most are small enough they’re not obvious from the distance. Ragwort, pussytoes, blue-eyed grass, violets, prairie dandelion, showy vetchling, and others are all going strong, but the visual aesthetic of the prairie is still driven by last year’s grass, with this year’s grass inserting itself into the picture from beneath. The flowers aren’t hiding, so much as they require proximity to be seen. That provides a nice incentive to hike. Here are a few shots from last night.

Gjerloff Prairie, with the educational center in the background.
Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) has finally reached its full height.
Prairie ragwort (Packera plattensis) is abundant, especially where grazing suppressed grass vigor last year.
Showy vetchling (Lathyrus polymorphus) is starting to bloom on the west side of steep hills.
Here’s a closer view of the vetchling.
The site of a spring fire is lush with fresh growth.
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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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