Monday, October 14, 2013

7. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 7: By September, Annual Weeds Predominate

Creek Field dominated by horseweed,
thistles, & foxtails.
Indian Blanket peeks through at bottom left.
Gaillardia pulchella amid the foxtails
Photos taken on Sept. 24, 2013 show the Creek Field awash in annual & biennial weeds--foxtails, horseweed, and thistles.   Still, some wildflowers, such as this Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) persist, while the riparian buffer next to the Creek Field shows the good things that are in store.   That buffer, seeded back to native 5 years ago, used to look like the Creek Field--choked with annual weeds.   But now the native grasses are coming to the fore.  The contrast between the new and maturing restoration is evident in the photo below.
To the left of the pathway is the newly seeded Creek Field,
dominated by annual weeds.  
On the right, is the riparian buffer,
seeded 5 years ago.   Native perennials predominate!!! 

6. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 6: Early Summer: Coreopsis

The Creek Field, July 7, 2013   Scott Bean Photo

 Coreopsis tinctoria comes to the fore in late June and early July.   However, tucked in among these gorgeous native annuals and already visible are the foxtails that later in the summer will come to tower over the flowers.   Still, this first stage in prairie restoration is amazing--this cascade of beauty--lavish, prodigal, overwhelmingly generous--as if there were no limit to the amazements to come!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mama Turkey Vulture comes and goes

Here is a link to a video of the Turkey Vulture nesting under the Guesthouse walkway.

She's a quiet neighbor!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Turkey Vulture Nesting under Guest House Walkway

 These are Turkey Vulture eggs!  There is a lady vulture nesting under the walkway at the Guest House.   She explodes up out of the sunken patio whenever anyone approaches the house.   I have put up a trail camera.   If we get video of her coming and going, I'll post it tomorrow.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

 Many thanks to Mark Mayfield, of the Kansas State University Herbarium, for identifying the plants at the left, as they appeared on the edge of Jerry's Pond (NE corner of Bird Runner) one autumn day.  The upper plant is in the mustard family, a member of the genus Rorippa, known as a Yellowcress.   The lower one is an aquatic Veronica, perhaps Veronica anagallis-aquatica.

What intrigued me was how the two species companioned each other, all along the pond edge, as shown below. 

Mark's service to the community is outstanding, as he helps us amateurs get to know the natural world!   Thank you, Mark!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

5. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 5: Yellowlegs in the Wetland!!

From left:  Al Alspach (Master Landscape)
and Greg Kramos (Fish & Wildlife)

In March, Greg Kramos of Fish & Wildlife and Al Alspach of Master Landscape (on the left) devised a plan to use the natural drainage in the Creek Field to create an intermittent wetland.    After Al used his trusty blue tractor to form several dikes, there were two small snowfalls that melted into the field.   Then on April 9, 2013 we had an inch of rain, and two days later the hoped-for-wetland was still holding water.    And hosting visitors!

A Greater Yellowlegs forages in the newly-created wetland.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

4. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 4 : The Creekfield Is Planted! Species list below.

March 30, 2013:  Al & his trusty John Deere tractor & Great Plains
Native Plants Seeder plant the upslope part of the Creek Field.
The Creek Field is planted!
The downslope half was planted March 20-21, 2013, with seed from Star Seed in Osborne, Kansas.  A snowstorm intervened, so the upslope half was not planted until March 30, 2013, with seed from Feyh Farm, in Alma, Kansas.   In addition, Margy hand-planted seeds that were hand-collected locally by Jeff Hansen, of Kansas Native Plants.   All of the species planted were originally present in bottomland prairie.   But the big Kansas native seed dealers get their forb seed from nurseries all over the country--Oregon, Illinois, Georgia--so it's important to have at least a few seeds that originated right here in the Flint Hills.    Each mix is made up of forbs but, on the recommendation of a prairie expert, contains one grass, in order to prevent annual weeds from claiming too many niches.  Here is a list of species planted:

Mix #2 (downslope)
These species were seeded on March 20-21, 2013:
Asclepias syriaca                     Common Milkweed
Astragalus Canadensis          Canada Milkvetch
Bidens aristosa                        Showy Beggar Ticks
Coreopsis tinctoria                  Plains Coreopsis
Desmanthus illinoensis           Illinois Bundleflower
Dracopsis amplexicaulis         Clasping Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea                Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia pulchella                 Indian Blanket
Helianthus grosseserratus      Saw-toothed Sunflower
Helianthus tuberosus              Jerusalem Artichoke
Monarda fistulosa                   Mint-leaf Bee Balm
Penstemon grandiflorus         Large Beardtongue
Physostegia virginiana            Obedient Plant
Silphium integrifolium             Rosinweed
Trandescantia ohioensis         Ohio Spiderwort
Verbena hastata                      Blue Vervain
Zizia aurea                                Golden Alexanders

 Tripsacum dactyloides            Eastern Gammagrass

Mix #1 (upslope)
These species were seeded on March 30, 2013:
Astragalus Canadensis           Canada Milkvetch
Coreopsis tincctoria                Plains Coreopsis
Dalea   candida                       White Prairie Clover
Dalea purpurea                       Purple Prairie Clover
Demanthus illinoensis            Illinois Bundleflower
Echinacea purpurea               Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia pulchella                Indian Blanket
Helianthus grosseratus          Saw-toothed Sunflower
Liatris punctata                       Dotted Gayfeather
Monarda fistulosa                  Mint-leaf Bee Balm
Penstemon digitalis                Fox-glove Penstemon
Physotegia virginiana            Obedient Plant
Ratibida pinnata                    Gray-headed Coneflower
Silphium integrifolium           Rosinweed
Trandescantia ohioensis       Ohio Spiderwort
Zizia aurea                               Golden Alexanders

Elymus Canadensis                  Canada Wild Rye

Hand-picked seed acquired from Jeff Hansen, Kansas Native Plants, planted March 17-April 2, 2013, with the exception of Asclepias tuberosa and Amorpha fruticosa, seeds picked by Margy elsewhere on Bird Runner:

Agastache nepetoides           Yellow Giant Hyssop
Amorpha fruticosa                  False Indigo
Asclepias incarnata                 Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias sullivanti                  Sullivant’s Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa                  Butterfly Milkweed
Bidens polylepsis                     Bur Marigold
Cassia marilandica                  Maryland Senna
Helenium autumnale              Sneezeweed
Heliopsis helianthus                False Sunflower(helianthoides)
Liatris pycnostachya               Thickspike Gayfeather
Lobelia cardinalis                    Cardinal Flower

Species sought but not found for seeding this spring:

Glycyrrhiza lepidota                Wild Licorice

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium   Slender-leaved Mountain Mint

Symphiotricum lanceolatum  Panicled Aster


Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring migrants at Jerry's Pond

 I borrowed some seeds from the bottomland restoration and planted them around our cattle ponds, including Jerry's Pond, pictured here.   While I was planting, spring migrants were feeding--a pair of blue-winged teal yesterday (March 28, 2013), and a greater yellowlegs today.  The cattle have been excluded from the ponds now, so the seeds will have a chance to sprout and grow.   Perhaps the vegetation will help the ponds become even more nourishing to wildlife!

Monday, March 25, 2013

3. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 3: The Wetland Holds Water!

The snow storm this weekend is turning into
water in the wetland!

The kildeer at right is hopefully the first
of many shorebirds to follow!


2. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 2: Planting the Downslope Mix

Al Alspach plants the downslope portion of the Creek Field

On Thursday, March 20, 2013, we were ready to plant the Creek Field back to native!  The Creek Field slopes down from south to north, where it drains into McDowell Creek at the northern edge of the field.  Therefore, the northern part of the field is the "downslope" area and is wetter than the southern part.   We chose species that wouldn't mind wet feet for the downslope area.  We also planted the wetland areas with this mix.  The seed mix we used is as follows:
Al used a seed drill to do the planting.

Downslope Mix
These species were seeded on March 20-21, 2013:
Asclepias syriaca                     Common Milkweed
Astragaluis Canadensis          Canada Milkvetch
Bidens aristosa                        Showy Beggar Ticks
Coreopsis tinctoria                  Plains Coreopsis
Desmanthus illinoensis           Illinois Bundleflower
Dracopsis amplexicaulis         Clasping Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea                Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia pulchella                 Indian Blanket
Helianthus grosseserratus      Saw-toothed Sunflower
Helianthus tuberosus              Jerusalem Artichoke
Monarda fistulosa                   Mint-leaf Bee Balm
Penstemon grandiflorus         Large Beardtongue
Physostegia virginiana            Obedient Plant
Silphium integrifolium             Rosinweed
Trandescantia ohioensis         Ohio Spiderwort
Verbena hastata                      Blue Vervain
Zizia aurea                                Golden Alexanders

 Tripsacum dactyloides            Eastern Gammagrass

Hand-picked seed acquired from Jeff Hansen, Kansas Native Plants, planted March 17-April 2, 2013, with the exception of Asclepias tuberosa and Amorpha fruticosa, seeds picked by Margy elsewhere on Bird Runner:

Agastache nepetoides           Yellow Giant Hyssop
Amorpha fruticosa                  False Indigo
Asclepias incarnata                 Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias sullivanti                  Sullivant’s Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa                  Butterfly Milkweed
Bidens polylepsis                     Bur Marigold
Cassia marilandica                  Maryland Senna
Helenium autumnale              Sneezeweed
Heliopsis helianthus                False Sunflower(helianthoides)
Liatris pycnostachya               Thickspike Gayfeather
Lobelia cardinalis                    Cardinal Flower

Saturday, March 23, 2013

1. Restoring Bottomland Prairie 1: From Corn to Native Plants

Native seeds will be planted right in the corn stubble.
Lined with a riparian buffer, McDowell Creek is behind the trees!
     We are seeding our cornfield back to native.   We call it the Creek Field, a 30 acre expanse of bottomground along McDowell Creek.  Our strategy is forbs-first.   Our experience with restorations so far, on our field buffers and in an old brome field, is that over time the grasses push out the forbs.   Other prairie-restorers have had this same experience--biodiversity decreases over time.  
This time we will give the forbs a headstart. We will plant them first and grasses only later.  

The Creek Field, looking southwest (upslope).



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coyotes Howl

Here two (three?) coyotes howl.   It could be Big Gray in the foreground, hearing Miss Red in the distance (only her?).   He goes toward the sound, disappears off-camera, and then we hear a second howl, very close....Is it Big Gray who has stopped to howl back (a likely exchange between a mated pair)?   Or is a third coyote present?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Miss Red Meets Someone

Two coyotes meet at the bridge.  They seem to like each other!

Big Bob/Introducing Miss Red

Here a large male bobcat (perhaps the father of the kittens in the "Coyote Marks, Bobcats Roll" video below?) visits the bridge.   At noon the next day a female coyote checks out the same spot.