Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting Used To It

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
at Prairie Hill Farm - June 2012
photo © Bruce A. Morrison 
(click on image for a larger view) 

I think I'm getting used to it...not the summer heat and humidity, but the early blooming that has continued since early spring.  Another example here in the native pasture are the New England Asters.  The one pictured above was photographed the last week of June.  I was really taken aback by it;  these guys are usually an August through September bloomer!  Now we have even more asters blooming here...Smooth Asters (Aster laevis) and Silky Asters (Aster sericeus)...its just plain crazy!  (I'm afraid I'm beating that expression to death this year.)

My burning question sounds kind of stupid maybe...but if everything blooms so early this summer - what happens this fall???  Are all our September flowers going to be finished in August and all our October bloomers in September??!!!  We always have a tremendous push here by fall nectaring insects in late September and early October.  What is going to transpire here when that should be occurring?  Are the insects going to be early as well or miss that period and suffer?  I suppose if I see Monarchs migrating in August, that will answer that question for me.  We have been keeping strong numbers of Monarchs so far...we are over run by the milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) this summer.

Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens)
O'Brien County privately owned prairie
photo © Bruce A. Morrison 
(click on image for a larger view)

 I did manage to get out and walk a neighborhood native (private) prairie last weekend.  The slopes had been burned this spring, the first time I remember seeing them burned.  I was anxious to see how they fared and was pleasantly surprised!  I was about 10 days too late for what must have been an amazing Lead Plant blooming!  I did find a small number of individual plants with blooms that were later, but 95% were finished.  The grasses were robust and thick, and another plant that will have a boom there (if the bad drought we're experiencing doesn't hinder it) is the Rough Blazing Stars (Liatris aspera)...very thick there.

I retreated to Waterman Creek below this prairie and walked the creek bed for the remainder of the morning; it was already quite humid and oppressive...the retreat the the water provided, with somewhat leaky hip boots, kept me cool. I posted a 4 minute video of that walk on my art studio blog last week too.  You can see the video here -

There was a decent flush of Monkey Flowers (Mimulus ringens) along the creek bed there...I included one individual blossom in the video.  I don't know if the seed production of these will make it back to the seed bank this year though - its showing to be a potentially heavy infestation year for grasshoppers here in the county...the extremely dry summer weather is likely contributing. Past experience with Monkey Flower seed production has shown that grasshoppers absolutely love this plant's seed pods in the fruiting stage!

I've had some interest in the audio recording from the last blog here on The Tallgrass Journal.  I audio tape natural sounds as a hobby.  I've used lots of varying methods...some a bit experimentally, within a limited budget.  The audio I recorded of the prairie birds (Prairie Music audio file) was a crudely put together setup from existing equipment that worked extremely well and one that I hope to use more when I have time and opportunity.  I set up a web page if you're shows the setup - hear to recording again, just go back to the last blog here-

Keep cool this summer - see you on the Tallgrass! 

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