Photos of the Week – September 23, 2021

Thanks to everyone who has filled out the reader survey so far. If you haven’t, please consider taking a few minutes to do it at this link. Based on data collected so far, most people are able to finish it in between 5 and 7 minutes.

In addition, the application period for our Hubbard Fellowship ends next Friday (October 1). If you know of any recent college graduates who would be interested in spending a year with The Nature Conservancy here in Nebraska, please forward this link to them. Thanks!

Now, to photos.

Yesterday, I had a relatively unscheduled day and figured I’d work on some computer-based projects I’ve been putting off. The weather has been good for seed harvesting, and this is the time of year when all the ‘big stuff’ is ready, so I’ve fallen behind on a few indoor projects. So, Thursday was for indoor projects.

Instead, I woke up early, looked outside, and decided to run across town to catch the sunrise at Lincoln Creek Prairie. A light breeze made things a little tricky, but I still managed to get enough photos to fill up much of the rest of the day working through them. I’ll catch up on that other work another day, I guess.

I found this (cold) damselfly before the sun came up, so I photographed it and then marked the spot so I could find it again later. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/14, 1/800 sec.

After a lot of hazy days this summer, yesterday’s sun came up startlingly bright and unfiltered. I appreciated how quickly it warmed me up (it was about 46 degrees F when I arrived) but I didn’t have much time between pre-sunrise dull light and WHOA THIS IS REALLY BRIGHT light. I’m not complaining – it was a really nice morning, and I feel like I need to take advantage of every opportunity I get between now and the hard freeze that will spell the end of the flower and insect season. (Not counting the few invertebrates that are always around during the winter.)

Canada wildrye with the golden sun behind it. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/11, 1/320 sec.
There were milkweed seeds clinging to pods and stuck to other plants all over the prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/11, 1/500 sec.

I spent quite a bit of time photographing milkweed seeds, which I feel obligated to do each fall. It’s pretty hard to pass them by when they’re hanging delicately and glowing in the morning light. I’m only including one image here, but I came home with lots of other good ones, which I’ll probably use in a future post.

I’ve been a little disappointed in the number of migratory dragonflies I’ve been able to see and photograph this fall, but I did see one green darner flying around today. It didn’t feel like sitting for me. I did, though, manage to spend a lot of time with the single damselfly I spotted. My last photo of the day was of a large milkweed bug, which – surprising as it seems – is a migratory species. I’m not sure if the one I saw had begun its migration or not. It didn’t care to expound upon that subject as I crowded close to it.

Here’s the same damselfly I’d seen before sunrise, now with real sunlight. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/160 sec.
Since the damselfly was cold and not interested in flying, I was able to photograph it from multiple angles and lighting situations. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/80 sec.
Another of the (many) photographs I took of this poor damselfly. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/400 sec.
Goldenrod midges must have had a good year in this prairie, based on the number of galls I found on leaves. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/200 sec.
With the strong light behind the leaves, setting the camera so they weren’t too bright meant everything in the background went black – a nice effect in this case. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16, 1/250 sec.
This large milkweed bug was by itself on a milkweed pod. I’m still flabbergasted that this species makes long-distance migrations and wish I knew more about their travels. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/16 1/320 sec.

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to fill out the survey. I appreciate all the kind words included in the responses that have come in so far. It means more than I can say. However, I hope you’ll also be honest in your critiques and suggestions so I can improve as needed. Have a great weekend!

Here’s the survey link one more time. Pretty please?

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.

5 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – September 23, 2021

  1. As much as I enjoy backlit photos of grasses and any photo of damselflies, I really enjoyed the pair of images showing the galls left by goldenrod midges. I’d not heard of the midges or their galls, so I have something new to look for as our goldenrods come into their season. Thanks, too, for including the camera settings. That’s yet another ‘plus’ for your blog.

    When you’re roaming among the ripening milkweeds, you might keep an eye out for this bird. I’ve heard it can range as far north as Nebraska, although no sightings from your state have been reported.

  2. Okay, you’ve blown my mind about milkweed bugs being migratory…can’t wait to research that!

    Lovely pics of the damselfly. It’s one of the spreadwings, but can’t tell more than that.


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