Photo of the Week – August 18, 2017

A few years ago, with technical and financial help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, we fenced out the pond at our family’s land and installed solar-powered livestock watering facilities.  It was something I’d wanted to do since taking over management of the land, and I was excited to see what positive impacts might result.  As expected, keeping cattle out of the pond has really transformed it.  The water is much less muddy and vegetation has grown up around and in the water, creating some really nice wetland habitat.  Taking advantage of the new habitat conditions are hordes of dragonflies, damselflies along with many other invertebrates, frogs and water birds.  In addition we find tracks of other wildlife all around the edge of the water.

Here is the shallow end of our pond last week, with lots of blue mud plantain, along with arrowhead, pondweed, and other wetland vegetation.  We’ll still use cattle to manage habitat conditions, but now we can let them in when we want to, and for specific purposes, rather than having them stomp around the pond all the time.

One small but really pleasant surprise has been the establishment of a little plant called blue mud plantain (Heteranthera limosa).  It’s an annual emergent wetland plant that is pretty common around Nebraska but it’s gorgeous and I’d never seen it on our land before this year.  All of a sudden, it’s taken over much of the shallow water areas of our wetland and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s not a rare plant, and I have no idea how valuable it might be for wildlife or pollinators – I’ve just always thought it was a pretty little wetland plant and I was excited to find it at our place.  I spent a little time photographing it last week and came away with wet elbows, wet knees, and some nice images of this great little plant.

Blue mud plantain in all its glory…