Photo of the Week – January 17, 2013

Ok, I know milkweed seeds have been done to death by photographers.  I, personally, have somewhere around a zillion milkweed seed photos.  But milkweed seeds in the winter?  With hoar frost?  And a snowy background?  That’s just magic.  How can I not photograph that?

Frosty milkweed seeds and pods.  The Leadership Center Prairie.  Aurora, Nebraska.
Frosty milkweed seeds and pods. The Leadership Center Prairie. Aurora, Nebraska.

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These photos are all from the same morning as those in last week’s photo of the week post.  I’ve got even more from that morning saved up for future weeks…  It was that kind of morning.

Photo of the Week – February 10, 2012

This has not been a great winter for snow photography.  Mild temperatures have made it nice for many outdoor activities (excluding ice skating, sledding, skiing, etc.) and for overwintering sandhill cranes, but there hasn’t been any snow on the ground since December.

That finally changed last weekend with about 11 inches of heavy snow and strong winds.  I haven’t had much time to get out and enjoy the snow yet, but I did manage a quick trip to a prairie west of town this week.  It was one of those days on which the sun comes up in a clear sky and there’s about 15 minutes of light between the time the sun pops over the horizon and the time when the sun becomes so bright that the glare makes photos difficult.  Because of that, I didn’t come home with very many photos.

Still, it was nice to be out in the snow.  Hopefully, it’ll stick around for a little while.

Canada milkvetch seed heads stick up above a snow drift. Restored prairie at Deep Well Wildlife Management Area near Phillips, Nebraska.

Snow changes things fairly dramatically for foraging animals.  This mild winter has made it relatively easy for animals to find what seeds and other food items are available.  With nearly a foot of snow on the ground, however, those animals have to either burrow around to find food or rely on food sticking out above the snow (like the seeds in these Canada milkvetch pods.)

The sandhill cranes along the Platte River right are suddenly unable to forage widely for waste corn in the fields, but are much more restricted to those areas where the wind scoured most of the snow off of high points in cropfields.  It appears that we’ll have cold temperatures for a while now, and that will keep the snow around.  It’ll be interesting to see if the cranes decide to tough it out here until warm temperatures return or head south a ways to find easier foraging.