Happy Friday, everyone! I wanted to start with another thank you to everyone who took the reader survey. As expected, the results were really helpful. I also really appreciate everyone who took the time to write additional comments – many were really touching and humbling.
Feel free to scroll quickly through these first few paragraphs, but I thought I’d quickly share a few high-level results, for anyone interested. First, 738 people responded – from 10 countries and 39 U.S. states. Unsurprisingly, Nebraska had the highest percentage of respondents (just under 20%) but Minnesota and Illinois were also high, followed by Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas, and Colorado. About half of you have been following the blog for at least 4 years, and more than 10% have been here longer than 7 years (Hi old friends!).
About 64% of respondents identified as either a landowner, land manager, or conservation professional. In addition, there were a lot of photographers, educators, and conservation volunteers, and ‘nature enthusiast’ was selected by over 85% of people (you could choose as many options as applied). When asked what you’d like to see more of, the top answers included stories about the natural history and ecology of prairies and species, as well as management and restoration information. That, in particular, was helpful to hear.
I gleaned much more from the results, but those are some of the highlights. Now, let’s get to photos…
This week has brought some of the best weather of the year for my particular brand of prairie photography. Sunrise has come with calm winds and lots of dew, which means lots of stationary, sparkly insects, combined with the golden colors of autumn prairie. I got up for sunrise several times this week and was very glad I did. Today’s photos are all from Wednesday morning at the Platte River Prairies. Click on any photo to see a bigger version of it.
Right before the sun rose on Wednesday, I was scanning one of our restored prairies for anything that would look good backlit against the sun when it popped up. I was hoping for dragonflies and managed to find one just in time. It was a variegated meadowhawk – probably a migrant roosting overnight on its southward journey. I circled it several times as the light hit it, changing lenses and perspectives as I went. These are just a few of the resulting images.
After I ran out of ideas for photographing that dragonfly, I moved on, looking for more. Along the way, since I had still had my wide-angle lens on, I tried to capture the autumn prairie itself. At least I did until I started finding more insects…
Eventually, I found six more dragonflies, and stopped to photograph three of them. In addition to variegated meadowhawks, I found what I’m pretty sure are autumn meadowhawks. They are late season dragonflies and suspected of being migrants, but I don’t think that’s been confirmed yet. They sure are gorgeous.
It’s getting to be the time of year when hard freezes are a possibility, so I feel a kind of low-level desperation to get out as much as I can before the dormant season starts. We’re trying to rake in as many seeds as we can too, so there are multiple reasons for me to be in the field a lot. I hope you’re all finding some time to enjoy the autumn wherever you are too (in at least 10 countries and 39 states, apparently!).