Nature Education - Summer

Migrating Monarchs

Migrating Monarchs

Posted Sunday September 20, 2020
So many Monarch butterflies on McDowell Creek!   They have been drifting through by the hundreds this week, day after day.  The ones pictured here are newly eclosed--you can see how bright their colors are, how strong and whole their wings. ...
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Don't Underestimate the Lowly Thistle!

Don't Underestimate the Lowly Thistle!

Posted Monday September 14, 2020
The pink/magenta beauty of Tall Thistles (Cirsium altissimum) comes into full force at the end of summer.  Our native Tall Thistles should not be confused with non-native, noxious weeds, such as Musk Thistle.  Tall Thistles contribute energetically to the prairie ecosystem.   With their lavish production of nectar and pollen, they attract hungry visitors--hummingbirds, bees, moths, and butterflies: ...
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Albatrossity – The Sandhills of Nebraska, Part 2

Albatrossity – The Sandhills of Nebraska, Part 2

Posted Monday August 31, 2020
Day 2 of images from our late July time in the Sandhills of Nebraska, on or near the Hutton Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary along the Niobrara River. ...
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Albatrossity – The Sandhills of Nebraska, Part 1

Albatrossity – The Sandhills of Nebraska, Part 1

Posted Tuesday August 25, 2020
Elizabeth and I made a getaway to the Sandhills of Nebraska and the Niobrara River in July. It was a six-hour drive over some fine blue highways, and we stopped once (to have a picnic lunch) along the way. We ended up 30 or so miles south of the NE/SD border, at a guest house at the Hutton Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. The house and sanctuary are owned by a conservation organization, Audubon of Kansas, whose board of directors Elizabeth serves on. Yeah, I know that owning ...
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Buntings and Grosbeaks on McDowell Creek

Buntings and Grosbeaks on McDowell Creek

Posted Friday August 21, 2020
The creek is a magnet!   Here is an immature Indigo Bunting having a bath, while an adult Indigo Bunting sings overhead: ...
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Grass Skippers Grace the Grassland!

Grass Skippers Grace the Grassland!

Posted Sunday August 16, 2020
Restoring prairie is a lot of hard work but it's also a thrill--especially when prairie-associated wildlife start to return.   It's been wildly exciting this summer to discover some new "Grass Skippers" here at Bird Runner--that's the name given the butterfly sub-family that uses grasses and sedges as caterpillar host plants.    The Grass Skippers below alighted in or near the bottomland prairie restoration in our Creek Field, next to ...
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Goldfinches at McDowell Creek

Goldfinches at McDowell Creek

Posted Sunday August 16, 2020
McDowell Creek has been a magnet for Goldfinches this summer--male Goldfinches, that is.  They come every evening to sing a little bit and drink from the creek. ...
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Butterflies Imbibing Minerals by McDowell Creek

Butterflies Imbibing Minerals by McDowell Creek

Posted Monday August 10, 2020
Large butterflies--like Monarchs and swallowtails--often use McDowell Creek as a flight corridor, sailing past us, here one second, gone the next.   ...
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Tiny Body, Big Voice--And Oh, Those Legs!

Tiny Body, Big Voice--And Oh, Those Legs!

Posted Monday July 13, 2020
If you thought these little guys were loud in the spring, you should hear them now!   Here are Blanchard's Cricket Frogs on the shores of McDowell Creek: ...
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Summer Damselflies

Summer Damselflies

Posted Thursday July 9, 2020
Summer is the time for procreation!   Here "dancer" damselflies (Argia spp.) are laying eggs in McDowell Creek.   The pairs have mated, and now the females are placing eggs in underwater vegetation or other substrate.   The males are "mate-guarding"--hanging onto the females and keeping other males at bay. ...
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