The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – June

Keeping things rolling here. Thanks again for voting on your favorite images from this year. Please keep that up, if you don’t mind – I love finding out which pictures most resonate with you. Just put the numbers of your choices in the comments section. Here are the June 2020 selections. Interestingly, it’s heavy on creatures. Spiders, bees, toads, a snake, and more. Enjoy the rest of your week!

1.) Backlit cup plant leaf. Lincoln Creek Prairie, Aurora Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/25, 1/80 sec.
2.) Silhouetted spider on common milkweed leaf. Lincoln Creek Prairie, Aurora, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/20, 1/80 sec.
3.) Woodhouse’s toad nestled into a hollow in the west sand of a Platte River sandbar. Platte River Prairies, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 10.5mm fish eye lens. ISO 320, f/18, 1/200 sec.
4.) Woodhouse’s toad in a shallow pool on a Platte River Sandbar. Platte River Prairies, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/200 sec.
5.) A two-spotted long-horned bee (I think) in the Helzer backyard prairie. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/10, 1/200 sec.
6.) Black-eyed Susan, sensitive briar, and other wildflowers at the Helzer Family Prairie near Stockham, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 10.5mm fish eye lens. ISO 200, f/16, 1/125 sec.
7.) Crab spider on Carolina horsenettle. Helzer Family Prairie near Stockham, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/16, 1/80 sec.
8.) Female halictid bee on black-eyed Susan flower. Helzer Family Prairie, near Stockham, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/16, 1/160 sec.
9.) Pure gold-green sweat bee (native solitary bee) on sensitive briar. Helzer Family Prairie near Stockham, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/500 sec.
10.) Goatsbeard, aka salsify, at the Helzer Family Prairie near Stockham, Nebraska. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/400 sec.
11.) False sunflower with aberrant disk florets. Helzer Backyard Prairie. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, f/13, 1/100 sec.
12.) Eastern hognose snake trying to intimidate me. Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 28-300mm macro lens @300mm. ISO 250, f/10, 1/1250 sec.
13.) Eastern hognose snake playing dead after it decided it couldn’t intimidate me. Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 250, f/11, 1/320 sec.
14.) Sandhills prairie. Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nikon D7200 with Tokina 12-28mm macro lens @12mm. ISO 320, f/9, 1/800 sec.
15.) Twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly. Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/9, 1/125 sec.
16.) Big female wolf spider. Niobrara Valley Preserve. Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/14, 1/60 sec.
17.) Cuckoo bee roosting by hanging on with its mandibles to its perch. Gjerloff Prairie (Prairie Plains Resource Institute). Nikon D7200 with Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, f/14, 1/125 sec.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

42 thoughts on “The Beauty of Prairies in 2020 – June

  1. Nice! Your captures of WH toad in mud and hog-nosed snake display are so rare and descriptive that I feel photos of them are super important to profile.
    So, I vote for 3, 12, 13, 6, and 8.

  2. Obviously every creature and plant is an important part of the prairie ecosystem.
    So, what to select depends on what the message is really.
    However, I think the following pictures are a good blend: 3, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16.

  3. #13 Eastern hognose playing dead is awesome but it’s awfully hard to choose just one. The sweat bee on sensitive briar has terrific color and the spider on milkweed is an interesting perspective.

  4. Chris,

    I have been reading and enjoying your post for years after I met you on a visit with the Helen Taylor from the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

    I would like to make a donation to your chapter in your honor. Will you provide me the contact information of your development director?

    Happy Holidays,

    Jamie Jacob

    >

  5. 6 is of particular interest to me. I am used to thinking of English wildflowers as plants which grow naturally in flower meadows i.e. grassland. Your prairie plants are treated here as ‘perennials’ which belong in a ‘flower border’ along with other perennials and with clear soil between each. Dutch garden designer Oudolf pioneered planting prairie grasses alongside but planting Rudbeckia and Echinacea etc. **within** grass (as with recreated English meadows) is not really something we have done here. The relationship between these flowering plants and the grasses when their roots are tangled up together is fascinating, as is the role of their shared neighbours, the soil fungi. The give and take there is really the most fascinating part but also the most mysterious.

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