Photos of the Week – April 16, 2021

This felt like the real first week of spring in our local prairies. Wildflowers are starting to pop, especially where fire or grazing has removed a lot of the thatch and the soil is warming more quickly. Both at our family prairie and The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, bees and other early pollinators should be having an easier time finding food.

Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) blooming at the Helzer family prairie this week. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, F/14, 1/200 sec.
Wild plum (Prunus americana) at the Helzer prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, F/20, 1/200 sec.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in seed at the Helzer prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, F/20, 1/125 sec.

The Fellows and I spent a little time walking the prairies together yesterday after finishing a short prescribed fire. We talked about how the prairies look pretty barren from the road, and that even from 10 or 20 feet away, many of the wildflowers are hard to see. But because we were walking around and really looking, we found plenty of color. I’ve said before that spring wildflower walks are much like Easter egg hunts, and it felt a little like that yesterday too.

Sand cherry (Prunus besseyi) at The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 400, F/20, 1/200 sec.
Kate (foreground) and Sarah photographing buffalo pea at the Platte River Prairies. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 400, F/11, 1/500 sec.
Sarah photographing buffalo pea. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 400, F/20, 1/160 sec.
Buffalo pea, aka ground plum (Astragalus crassicarpus). Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 400, F/20, 1/250 sec.

As temperatures in the soil and air continue to rise, so will the amount of color in our local prairies. After a long winter, watching that progression is always exhilarating.

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.

8 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – April 16, 2021

  1. Maybe a silly question, but I just moved here from New Mexico. If you get a plot of land and want it to revert back to nature, do you plant certain growy things, or do you just let nature take it back? What kind of trees grow here/are native to here?

  2. Chris: Katie Stevens here from Moab — we were stopped by the big March snowstorm and couldn’t make it to Platte River Prairies — but next year for sure. I just wanted to let you know that I forwarded your blog to a David Pals. He works with me at the Moab BLM, but he was with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for many years and has a real interest in prairies. I’m sure he’ll enjoy your posts — and the more scientific the better.

    Keep up the good work.

    ________________________________

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