Saturday, March 23, 2019

Glaciers still in the yard but its Spring!

Great Blue Herons in the valley
 (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)
 
Spring has finally arrived the the valley here and we have been most fortunate as far as our flooding here.  A week and a half ago we were taking on water pretty fast and the valley in front was threatening lake front property once again, but fortunately all the culverts broke open in time to spare the road and its been dropping back to the channel since.  
 
We are so, so lucky and count our blessings as we watch the dire situation in extreme western Iowa and the eastern half of Nebraska...a perfect storm did happen after a heavy snowfall and rains exacerbated the completely saturated soils from last year's record rains - it was all downhill from there for anyone in the flood plains of the Missouri River and its tributaries.   Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the flooding going on right now.
 
Things are starting to look "normal" here for a change...we still have 4 foot drifts covering most of Georgie's barn garden but she was able to get into the yard garden and peek under the snow flattened hoops and see that the spinach did survive the winter this year - YAY!!!  Last year the mice had set up shop under her row covers and dined on spinach all winter...we have strong mice out here!
 
Juvenile Bald Eagle
 (photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)
 
We have been seeing a few Great Blue Herons returning to the Waterman Creek rookery the past few days, but in low numbers so far.  Yesterday we had 8 herons riding a thermal high above the rookery.  The last time we witnessed this there was "Eagle trouble" brewing.  Well, sure enough, a couple juvenile Bald Eagles were harassing the herons - one flying around the hovering flock and another sitting smack in the middle of the rookery!
 
Eventually the two trouble makers tired of the game and headed off right over the studio deck where Georgie and I were watching - giving us great neck bending looks as they passed.  In the next hour 8 more Bald Eagles flew past the acreage - bee lining straight north on the wind.  On top of that uncounted flocks of Canada and Snow Geese streamed past heading north as well - spring is definitely in play now!

Grateful that Spring has arrived - prayers to all those being faced with loss to flooding.  
 
Take care and be good to one another!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How Many Days??!!!

Raccoon napping in the crotch of a tree 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

It's February and I guess that's a good thing right?  Closer to Spring!!!  I don't mind February so much...its the shortest month of the winter and still looks like winter.  Now March looks like a mixed up month!  Sometimes like winter...sometimes like spring - usually all goofed up and a sloppy mess!

Had a Big old Raccoon in the gate tree this a.m. When Georgie first spotted it, it was rolled up in a ball on a fork in the tree but with the snow turning to a freezing mist it decided to try a nearby hole. The hole it tried hiding in was apparently too small as it kept coming back out to reposition itself...kept hiding when I'd take the camera outside but later showed up napping in another crotch outside.

I know it knows I'm there trying to take its picture, but I just settle for a nap shot and head back inside...hoping it'll stir for the camera yet...


Red-tailed Hawk pair hunting in tandem
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
February is a time when many birds of prey begin getting serious...seems early but the Great Horned Owls already have eggs they're sitting on and the Bald Eagles are setting up shop too.  Another local favorite of ours - the Red-tailed Hawks, have been known to set up nesting late in the winter...we had a pair here hunting together behind the barn.  Sometimes one bird would sit and watch while the other dipped around in the pasture trying to stir something up and other times they'd fly together and swoop into the grasses...don't know what they had going there?   Maybe a rabbit sitting tight or a mouse...who knows?
 
Red-tailed Hawk - close fly-by
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Its fun watching things begin to stir since the frigid air has left its mark everywhere...kind of has me stirring myself!

How many days till spring??!!!!!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Mid Winter on the Tallgrass

"Late Morning Sun Dogs"
photograph - ©Bruce A. Morrison
 
A little winter action here at the studio this morning - I would have missed this brilliant late morning display if I hadn't walked over to the house to check on something.  On my walk back I was faced with a nearly full circle light display!  I ran inside and grabbed the camera and this was the first image I took - the right side was dropping out and after the first shot it was gone!  Things can be fleeting! 

Most of us wish winter were fleeting too but I feel less like being outside during this frigid weather and that can mean I get something done inside!  Or something like that?!

Stay warm!!!
 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Winter Solstice and a Prairie Christmas!


Wishing everyone out there a great winter ahead and a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas to you and All those you Love!

See you next year!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Trying Our Best

"Winter Morning at Don's Old Place"
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
I've been trying my best to keep up...to stay on target, but life is a bit more complicated than all that; I just have to quit fighting the tide and go with it sometimes I think.

Our winter finally began...first with a full night of rain, then turning to snow.  Made for terrible driving but also a good reason to stay put and do some work in the house. 

I caught a bug from somewhere - haven't the slightest idea where, but it took the wind out of my sails...still trying to hoist them back up.  Woke up yesterday to the results of an overnight freezing fog...it was spectacular!  Around 10:30 in the morning the sun started cutting through and the time was now or never so I grabbed the camera and went for a short visit in the "neighborhood" to see what views might be found.
 
"Winter Morning, Passing Don's Old Place" 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
I thought of the wonderful little gem of a summer place, one the owner used to spend summers at in his old age...he'd then slip off to one of his children's to spend his winters.  Its sold now...I don't know who owns it but I still refer to it as Don's old place.   When I arrived the sun was already dropping the frost from the trees...not that it's melting but that the air currents are starting to become active and the breeze is tipping the heavy ice crystals from their delicate balancing act.
 
 "Frosty Morning at the old Farmstead" 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
It was a beautiful setting but becoming quickly undone!  I tried not to spend too much time taking it in and recording it as best I could instead.  I then drove down the road a bit to a nice old farmstead and turned around as a bridge down the road had been wiped out by last September's epic flood in the valley.  The long early morning shadows at the farmstead's gate were wonderful and they were the last strong holdouts on frost that morning. 

By the time I arrived back to the acreage, the frost was all on the ground and the moment was over.  It was a beautiful 45 minutes, not just a visual memory. And now back to the business of the day...trying our best.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Sneaking Past!!!


 Band-winged Meadowhawk
in morning dew at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

Time is sneaking past me!!!  I hope I'm not the only one that notices...it should "NOT" be September already!!!!

I'm afraid I'm a victim of technology...my work/business computer was "blue screening" me nearly every day this summer and I finally broke down and bought a new one.  Well - I found how difficult it is replacing 10 years worth of software and passwords!!!  The software thing was a the major "time eater" and is still my nemesis - Auuugggghhhhhh!!!!!  Its been 4 weeks and I still have some hurdles to get over...I liked Windows 7 better!!!!  (Sorry for complaining so much.)

I found a couple days ago I couldn't even interact with my blogs.  2 days later (with no help from google!) I finally got control back and can no longer procrastinate and am trying to get back to blogging once more.  (Oops, complaining again!)

We are right in the middle of the Bird and Monarch migrations now.  We had our first Monarch Roost on August 30th and are just now hatching out Monarchs in the pasture too...we'll see one more roost and they'll likely all be on their way to Mexico!  I do have a few caterpillars and chrysalises here inside the studio...these are from eggs I found here on the acreage and I brought them inside to "finish out" so as to give them a better chance at reaching adulthood.  (I've read that survival can be as low as 5% in the wild for eggs and caterpillars - adopting and keeping a watch can increase that a lot - so far I'm getting 100% survival).

 
 Monarch Roost at Prairie Hill Farm - 8-30-2018
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison 

It's kind of a bittersweet thing when this time of the year comes along, and all your "friends" start leaving.  This morning we only have one Baltimore Oriole left; we still have 2-3 Hummers around the feeders and the Catbirds, Barn Swallows and Red-headed Woodpeckers are still around.  But it won't be long.  At least that will bring our northern fall migrants through and then our winter residents, so there's a bright side to every thing that comes about.

If you haven't been out there, you might want to do so - Summer is sneaking past...don't miss it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Mid Summer and Gorgeous!

 Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

The heat has just abated a little and the Black Flies (having undergone a second hatch) have finally calmed down a bit...now its the skeeters - but hey, the dragonflies, bats and swallows need to eat too!  The prairie pastures have continued to wow me...the insects, birds, grasses and forbs are giving cause to pause and watch.  Get out if you can...I know that life tends to get in the way, but a quiet walk is in order!

(Click on any image for a larger view)
 

 
 Monarch Butterfly (male) feeding on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 
in the pasture here at Prairie Hill Farm
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Mass of Cup Plants (Silphium perfoliatum) in bloom in the pasture
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Fairy Napkin! OK...just a dew covered spider web! 
The "little fairy" can be seen peeking out from it lair in the upper hole in the web 
(should have zoomed in on him)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 My favorites in the low areas of the pasture and ditches - 
Swamp Milkweed! (Asclepias incarnata)  
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) - delicate little plants, balanced in the left foreground by spikes of Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) 
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
 Mass of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
 photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison

 Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) 
photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison
 
The prairie keeps changing - hopefully I can keep up and record it...if you get a chance - get out and enjoy it.

Hope to see you on the Tallgrass!!!