This week, I really need to get a bunch of data collection done. Each year, I collect plant composition data in June from a variety of sites at our Platte River Prairies. The data help us track plant species diversity and other trends over time and evaluate how our management (and other factors) are affecting those plant communities. I have 2 restored prairies I’ve been tracking annually for nearly 20 years and two others I’ve looked at every other year across that same time period – and many others I check in on when I have time.
I have to cover at least four sites this year, and it would be nice to get to six. It usually takes between four and five hours per site, so if I start early in the morning, I can do one prairie before it gets too hot and then slip back inside to work on other projects. Following that schedule, I should be able to get at least four sites done this week (I’m busy on Friday morning, so can’t collect data then).
So far, though, I’ve worked two long mornings and only have one site and a small part of a second site done. It’s not my fault. The light has been good for photography and the prairies are full of fascinating creatures just begging me to photograph them. Plus, my data collection involves plopping a 1×1 meter frame on the ground a bunch of times and looking very closely at all the plants inside the frame. Of COURSE I’m going to find lots of tiny creatures when I’m doing that!
I’d go a lot faster, I suppose, if I didn’t carry my camera gear with me because then I wouldn’t be able to stop and take pictures.
…I think we can all agree that would be silly, right?
WordPress (the platform I use for this blog) isn’t allowing me to create captions tonight. It’s apparently a bug they’re working on (not the good kind of bug.) As a work-around, here is the caption info for the three images above. First – a ladybug is backlit on a grass leaf. Second – a picture winged fly sits on Illinois bundleflower. Third – a tiny leaf hopper on a leaf – there were scads of these around today.
More caption info.. The yellow flowers above are Calylophus serrulatus, otherwise known as serrate leaf primrose or sundrops. Above is a sedge seedhead (Carex gravida) with spider webbing and some insect parts wrapped around it. After I took that photo, I touched the webbing to see if I could figure out what was going on and the spider in the photo below popped out. It wouldn’t show me its face, so this is the best photo I could get of it.
The photo above shows a milkweed leaf beetle larva feeding on whorled milkweed (thanks to Tom Weissling for the ID). The photo below is self heal (Prunella vulgaris) growing in a restored wetland slough in the prairie I was working in.
I’ll be back out in the field tomorrow morning, which is why I’m posting this tonight. With any luck, I’ll finish my second site. Unfortunately, (hee hee) the forecast looks promising for photography, so I guess we’ll see…