Photo of the Week – June 27, 2014

A selection of photos from a prairie ecologist’s family vacation in the mountains of Colorado…

Rocky mountain stream.

A rocky mountain stream not far from the door of the cabin we stayed in last week.  South of Idaho Springs, Colorado.


Slow shutterspeed

Since I don’t see fast flowing water (or rocks) very often in my part of Nebraska, I don’t often get to play with the old photography trick of using a slow shutterspeed to show the movement of the water.


slow shutterspeed again

I spent way more time than I should have on the slow-shutterspeed-trick…


Where the snow is coming from...

We got to climb high enough to see the melting snow that was feeding all those streams.  It was fun to think about the fact that the snow melt we were looking at would be flowing right past us in the Platte River when we got home.  Hell’s Hole Trail.


Boys and I climbed up a ridge one evening.

One evening, the boys and I climbed up a ridge near our cabin just because it was there.


John thinks he's funny

John thought it was funny to pretend he was clinging to the edge of a cliff.  (His feet are solidly on the rocks below.)


Favorite part of mountains are above the tree line.

My favorite parts of the mountains are above treeline where I don’t feel so closed in.  Chief Mountain.


Dan also likes

Daniel (and his brother) lobbied hard to climb Chief Mountain, even though we’d done the same hike only a year before.  The scenery WAS very nice…


Bristlecone pine

Bristlecone pines are found only at very high elevations.  Both the live and dead ones are very picturesque.


Summit lake near Mount Evans.

One cool evening, we dodged some light showers and took a short uphill hike from Summit lake near Mount Evans.  The scenery was enough to take your breath away – though the 13,000 foot elevation helped with that as well…  


Mount Evans and Summit Lake.

A  panoramic view of Mount Evans and Summit Lake from the trail.


Douglas fir cone.

Of course, despite the gorgeous scenery, many of my  favorite photos from the trip were close-ups.  Just as in prairies, close-up photography helps me see details I would otherwise have missed.  For example, did you know Douglas fir cone had these funny little trident-like appendages on them?


Colorado spruce

A close-up of Colorado spruce needles.


Venus's slipper orchid, aka Fairly slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa).

Venus’s slipper orchid, aka Fairly slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa).  My wife found several of these near our cabin.  After I photographed one, I looked it up in one of the field guides in the cabin.  My favorite quote from the guide was: “Although one of our smallest orchids, Venus’s slipper is the most exquisite, as well as the most elusive.”

It was great to spend a week in cooler weather and see some different landscapes, and I really enjoyed the concentrated time with my family.  Pine and spruce woodlands are very pretty, though the alpine meadows above them were certainly my favorites.  I can see how some people really enjoy living in the mountains.  However, while I like short trips to the mountains, I am always glad to get back home to the wide open landscape of the Nebraska prairie.

Platte River Prairies Field Day – June 13, 2014

I hope to see many of you at our first Field Day of the 2014 season.  On Friday, June 13, we’ll host hikes and presentations all day long at our Platte River Prairies.  Come learn about prairie ecology, plant identification, grassland restoration and management, and much more!

Join fellow prairie enthusiasts and biologists for a fun day in the Platte River Prairies on June 13, 2014.

Join fellow prairie enthusiasts and biologists for a fun day in the Platte River Prairies on June 13, 2014.

By popular demand, we’re placing a special emphasis on plant identification this year, and will provide opportunities to learn how to identify grasses, wetland plants, and prairie wildflowers.  In addition, there will be opportunities to see and discuss invasive plants and their control.  Other featured topics include prairie insects, small mammals, birds, and prairie gardening.

The day’s events will officially begin at 9am and end at 4pm, but feel free to come a little early for an 8am bird hike and stay and hike the trails on your own in the evening.  You are welcome to come and go as you please during the day, and there will be multiple sessions to choose from all day long.  Please bring your own lunch and a bottle of water, but we’ll provide some cold drinks and snacks as well.

Click HERE to see the agenda for the day.

Click HERE to learn more about the Platte River Prairies.

Click HERE for directions to the site.

This Field Day is free of charge, and you don’t need to register ahead of time, but we’d appreciate knowing if you will be coming so we can plan accordingly.  Please email or call Mardell Jasnowski if you plan to attend. or 402-694-4191.

Thank you to the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Academy of Sciences for supporting our Field Days through the PIE grant program.