Next Platte River Prairies Field Day – June 22, 2016

Please plan to join us for our next field day on June 22, 2016.  We will have multiple field sessions to choose from throughout the day from 9am to 3:30pm.  There is no cost for attending, and families are welcome.  Bring your own lunch (and sunscreen, insect repellant, and drinking water).

Julie Peterson, University of Nebraska Extension Research Entomologist talks about prairie invertebrates.  Platte River Prairies Field Day, August 27, 2014.

Julie Peterson, University of Nebraska Extension Research Entomologist will return this year to talk about prairie insect identification and ecology.

Session topics include:

Plant identification and ecology

– Chris Helzer, The Nature Conservancy

Principles of prairie management

– Gerry Steinauer, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Prairie insects

– Julie Peterson, University of Nebraska Extension

Gardening with native plants

– Kim Helzer, TNC Volunteer and Centennial High School Science Teacher

Edible wild plants

– Cyndi Trail, The Nature Conservancy

Prairie seed harvesting and processing

– Mardell Jasnowski, The Nature Conservancy

How to help monitor monarch and regal fritillary butterfly populations

– Melissa Panella, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Each session will be available at least twice during the day.  We will likely add another couple session options within the next weeks stay tuned for a final agenda to be posted here within the next couple of weeks.   

The Derr House is located 2 miles south of the Wood River exit off of Interstate 80 (Exit 300).  Turn south immediately after the highway curves to the east and you’ll be there.

For more directions to the site, go to: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/nebraska/placesweprotect/eastern-nebraska-platte-river-native-prairie-nature-trail.xml

Photo of the Week – April 22, 2016

Carolina anemone, aka windflower (Anemone caroliniana), is one of my favorite spring wildflowers.  Like many early bloomers, it’s beautiful but inconspicuous.  Despite its gorgeous flower color(s), it can be really hard to see unless you’re within a few feet of it.

The tiny, but beautiful windflower (Anemone caroliniana).

The tiny, but beautiful windflower (Anemone caroliniana).  It’s hard to enough to find it when it is blooming.  When it’s not, the leaves (foreground) are so small and inconspicuous, they are nearly impossible to spot.

Earlier this week, the Fellows, Nelson, and I spent a couple hours hiking our Platte River Prairies, practicing some plant identification and talking ecology and management.   I’d mentioned the anemone as a species we might see if we were lucky, but we didn’t find it.  After our hike but before I headed home, I decided to revisit a hill we’d hiked earlier because I wanted to photograph some groundplum (Astragalus crassicarpus) flowers there.  After I finished with the groundplum, I stood up and walked a few steps downhill, and there, not 10 feet from where the four of us had stood a few hours before, was a small patch of Carolina anemone.

There were only five plants and they were in various stages of blooming – and in various shades of blue.  I spent a few minutes photographing them and then called Evan (one of our Hubbard Fellows) in case he wanted to come see and photograph them too.  Evan said something about a friendly little contest…  After describing the location to him, I drove back to town.

Last night, Evan sent me four of the images he came away with from that little patch of windflowers.  Have I mentioned that he’s an excellent photographer?  Also, he cheated by finding and photographing a crab spider on one of the flowers WHICH IS TOTALLY UNFAIR!

Anyway, without making it an overt competition, here are four photos each from Evan and me.  It’s always fun and interesting to see how different photographers interpret the same subject matter.  In this case, notwithstanding Evan’s crab spider, WHICH HE PROBABLY PLANTED, we were working with the same five flowers.  I put my four photos first, followed by his four.

My photos…

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And now Evan’s photos…

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It sure is nice to be back in wildflower season again.  I’m glad to live at a latitude where we have a true winter dormant season, but part of the reason I like winter is that it increases my appreciation of the return of the growing season each year!