In my last post, I shared photos from the trip I took to the Niobrara Valley Preserve earlier this week. Those photos showcased the drought conditions in the prairie and how they seem to be exacerbating the problem of shrub invasion. While the drought is severe and shrub invasion is a big concern, there was still a lot of beauty and inspiration to be found. I wanted to post some photos today that help illustrate that.
After spending the day evaluating pasture condition and discussing grazing and weed management strategies, is was nice to spend time in the evening and the next morning just wandering aimlessly with my camera and drone. The above and below photos reinforce how dry it is at the Niobrara Valley Preserve and how much of the vegetation has gone dormant. At the same time, the bison are doing fine, there are still quite a few wildflowers blooming, and insects were abundant and very active.
There was no morning dew for insects to be trapped in, which cramped my style a little, but I managed to get some bug photos anyway. Antlions were especially common in the morning, and it was easy to spot them as their wings were highlighted by the light of the rising sun. Some were too wary to be photographed, but others sat still for me as long as I approached them slowly and close to the ground. I found quite a few male bees and wasps on overnight roosts too, but I just shared a bunch of those kinds of photos a few weeks ago, so I won’t add them here.
Drought or no drought, prairies are resilient and full of life and beauty. I hope you can find an opportunity to go see some of that beauty at a prairie near you!