Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Piece by Piece

Waterman Prairie - Cherokee County

I recently photographed on a new acquisition of multiple organizations: the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, The Iowa Nature Conservancy and the Iowa DNR.  Thankfully this could not have been done without the willingness and help from the private land owners.  

 Waterman Prairie - Cherokee County...along the
Little Sioux River valley corridor

This is an addition to the Waterman Prairie Complex that is south of us in O'Brien County - except now it includes Cherokee County!  The 60 acre parcel is only a drop in the proverbial bucket but every little niche helps the overall picture.  Waterman Prairie is in the Little Sioux Valley and this valley has been identified as the last important "interior" corridor remnant of the tallgrass prairie in Iowa.  The Nature Conservancy and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation have been working to preserve remnants of the prairie here; an attempt to piece together a "corridor", or may be more simply put as "connecting the dots".  As more parcels are preserved, more pieces of the puzzle are once again intact.

 female Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) at the Cherokee Waterman Prairie site

I did find some very good stands of native grasses, especially June Grass...don't believe I've seen so much in one location before? Other native grasses seemed abundant here and there but the former use of this as pasture ground shows a very large presence of Brome.  But its the strategic placement of this tract and its size that is important for the fauna that is in desperate need of habitat!  The Grasshopper Sparrow for instance - I was hearing quite a few Grasshopper Sparrows here; these grassland obligates are in real need of habitat...they require large tracts and you just will not find them along roadside plantings and such.  One thing in their favor here is the surrounding private tracts are also hillside pasture.  Other grassland birds present here during my walk were Sedge Wrens, Dickcissels, Field Sparrows, and Bobolinks.

Hats off to these great organizations and private citizens that support them and who work with them for additions to our natural heritage!  Check these organizations out - they are worth your time and consideration too!

Hope to see ya on the Tallgrass!

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