Photos of the Week – September 9, 2022

Last weekend, Kim did a 50k training run at Wilson Lake in Kansas and I went along. While she ran 31 miles, I took photos of stars, cicadas, spiders, and more. I also met her at various stops along the trail with water and snacks.

It’s dry in Kansas, just like it is in Nebraska, but there was still a lot going on in the prairie. I was really surprised at the number of plains dog day cicadas (I think?) I saw in the vegetation before dawn. Once the sun came up, they started zipping noisily all over the place. Various orb web spiders were also scattered around in the grass. I also saw a lot of mayflies, crane flies, hover flies, and much more.

The lake and shoreline were full of boats and people but I pretty much had the prairies to myself. It was nice to have some solitude, but also a reminder that we need to keep working to get people interested in prairies! Here are some of the photos I took on Sunday morning.

Morning stars and milky way over Lake Wilson. For context, this was taken AFTER Kim had started running. Tokina 11-20mm lens @11mm. ISO 1600, f/2.8, 20 sec.
Cicada at sunrise. I think it’s probably the plains dog day cicada (Neotibicen auriferus). Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 500, f/11, 1/125 sec.
A fishing boat moving slowly out to the lake at sunrise. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/13, 1/1250 sec.
Long-jawed orb weaver (Tetragnatha laboriosa). Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/9, 1/160 sec.
Damselflies in early morning light. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/320 sec.
Clammy-weed (Polanisia sp.) growing out of a rock on the edge of Wilson Lake. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/14, 1/160 sec.
Crane fly on clammy-weed. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/18, 1/125 sec.
Starbellied orb weaver (Acanthepeira stellata). Thanks to Samantha Daniel for identification help! Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/20, 1/160 sec.
A backlit mayfly. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/6.3, 1/2000 sec.
A crane fly trying to escape from a spider web. It was slowly bouncing its way to the edge and seemed to be making progress. I didn’t see a spider on the web so it had a chance. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 500, f/10, 1/500 sec.
A big black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia). This might have been the biggest female I’ve ever seen. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 320, f/13, 1/250 sec.
A grasshopper and little bluestem on the edge of the lake. Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. ISO 320, f/11, 1/320 sec.
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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.

6 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – September 9, 2022

  1. Fabulous photos! I frequently forget to click on them to open them and get their full effect. Glad I remembered this time – it’s almost as if it’s 3-D.

  2. Beautiful photography and beautiful subjects! I wanted to say that the damselflies wespecially caught my attention but so many were beautiful and intrigueing it is hard to singlout just one. Thank you for sharing them.

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