Seeds for the future

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Helen Gunderson during 2014 visit to DeElda Heritage Prairie. The prairie planting on Tuesday was on land up the hill to the right.

“Now I truly understand the sense of pride landowners get when seeing projects come to fruition,” Helen Gunderson said to me when we went to Pocahontas County to observe a 70-acre prairie planting on a portion of the 180 acres she recently donated to INHF with a reserved life estate. The property adjoins a 60-acre remnant prairie/pasture Helen previously donated to INHF, called DeElda Heritage Prairie (named after her grandmother, DeElda Lighter Gunderson).

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A few of the many bags of Carl Kurtz prairie seed for the May 2016 planting

Helen is an accomplished photographer and videographer and on that day we filmed and photographed Jon Judson planting the prairie seed (grown by Carl Kurtz, a longtime friend of Helen’s and INHF). She and I even got to hand scatter seeds along the terraces where the equipment couldn’t reach.

The 77 acres planted to CRP pollinator habitat surrounds a cornfield under transition to an organic operation by a young woman farmer, Betsy. Helen hopes that the new prairie buffer will help minimize cross contamination of the organic corn, as well as provide critical habitat.

Helen said that she had always thought the land would have more prairie someday, but it’s nice to see it happen during her lifetime.

For me, it was rewarding to be able to fulfill the dreams of a landowner, to support a young woman farmer and to give back to the earth — so that it can sustain the birds, insects, wildlife, water and air necessary for the existence of all life on the planet, for those who follow.

Thank you, Helen….
“Namaste prairie”

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Nature Walk: Cryptic Coloration

Tree Sparrow in Prairie

Cryptic coloration is another term for camouflage commonly found in many species of animals. It’s easy to see that the earth tones of this tree sparrow are the same as vegetation in winter prairie. At a distance, they blend perfectly into the background to give protection from predation.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Ice Designs

ice Designs

photo by Carl Kurtz

Plants such as bulrushes, cattails, water lilies and animals such as frogs, fish or even snail shells often freeze on or just below the surface of ice that has formed on ponds and lakes.  Dark colored objects readily absorb sunlight creating heat that melts the ice around the object.  An impression or design is left than can be simple or intricate as with these river bulrush stems.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Red-tailed Hawks

Red-tailed Hawks

Bird identification can require serious observation and science.  Here we have two red-tailed hawks that are completely different.  On a recent bald eagle survey, wildlife biologist Bruce Ehresman helped us identify Krider’s red-tailed hawk, which is believed to be a subspecies of the more common Red-tailed hawk.   Krider’s is a bird of the Great Plains while the Red-tail is found across the entire US.  These images show the dramatic differences in coloration with Krider’s lacking the red tail altogether.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Carrion Beetles

Carrion Beetle and Mites

Carrion beetles are about an inch long and colorful. They play an important role in natural processes by feeding on dead animals. On this specimen’s thorax are tiny mites that have a symbiotic relationship with the beetles. The mites are carried to food sources by the beetles where they feed on fly eggs eliminating the competition of the fly’s maggots, which would otherwise speed up the decomposition of the beetles’ food source.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Bumblebees

Blumbees

Bumblebees probably aren’t given enough credit for the pollination services they perform. They’re a life-sustainer for a host of native flowers and some agricultural crops, like red clover, a hay crop. Here we see one preparing to enter a bottle gentian flower, which they have to physically open to get inside to collect the nectar, and on a tall thistle.

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If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawks lack the wariness of mature adult birds.  They are more tolerant of humans and less wary of potential danger.  They lack many of the skills needed to survive and their first year will be the most difficult.

Juvenile red-tailed hawks lack the wariness of mature adult birds. They are more tolerant of humans and less wary of potential danger. They lack many of the skills needed to survive and their first year will be the most difficult.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Dodder

 

Dodder is a parasitic plant that appears like an enormous batch of wet spaghetti draped over and wrapped around other plants such as the wild bergamot we see here. It sprouts from seeds in the soil and its survival depends on finding a host plant. It is a member of the morning glory family but unlike the trumpet-shaped morning glory it has a dense cluster of tiny white flowers.  When the flowers were examined they were filled with thrips, minute insects barely visible to the human eye.

Dodder is a parasitic plant that appears like an enormous batch of wet spaghetti draped over and wrapped around other plants such as the wild bergamot we see here. It sprouts from seeds in the soil and its survival depends on finding a host plant. It is a member of the morning glory family but unlike the trumpet-shaped morning glory it has a dense cluster of tiny white flowers. When the flowers were examined they were filled with thrips, minute insects barely visible to the human eye.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: White-lined Sphinx

The white-lined sphinx is a large moth and sometimes referred to as a hummingbird moth.  They are generally common in late summer and are often seen feeding on garden flowers.  Like many species in nature, they are beautifully designed with line, pattern and color.  To generate heat in the cool of an evening, they often quiver their wings.

The white-lined sphinx is a large moth and sometimes referred to as a hummingbird moth. They are generally common in late summer and are often seen feeding on garden flowers. Like many species in nature, they are beautifully designed with line, pattern and color. To generate heat in the cool of an evening, they often quiver their wings, just as we might shiver to generate heat when we are cold.

 

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Prairie Blazingstar

prairie blazingstar

Prairie blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya) is a favorite prairie flower with its tall magenta spikes. It belongs to the aster family and blooms from mid- to late July into mid-August. Tiny plumed seeds that easily shatter with wind or rain form in early October. It makes a wonderful garden flower and readily attracts butterflies.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

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