Spring creek, small animals

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Saturday, 6 July, 2013

Jacky and Allison and I went to the Spring creek prairie Audubon center, where we found a number of interesting things. I posted some of the photos separately; here’s the remainder of the noteworthy ones.

The prairie is near Crete, Nebraska, windy hills with tall grass, a couple of ponds, and trees in the low places near the ponds. There are a few miles of trails that have been mown through the grass, more trails that have not been mown, and a lot of real estate that is not intersected by trails at all. Electric fences to control the theoretical cattle.

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No sooner had we started off when a helicopter came along, a large camera capturing everything in sight. In the next day’s newspaper, we learned that it’s U.K. Skyworks, doing a Nebraska documentary, partly for their own entertainment, but also on behalf of the University of Nebraska, the parks people and who knows whom!

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Very pretty, the little butterflies.

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Also a little gross!

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There are prairie birds around, perching wherever opportunity presents. Because of the wind and the extreme zoom required, I shot hundreds of photos in burst mode, then discarded about 95% of them.

Doris says these are dickcissels. I never heard of them before. Sounds vaguely obscene, doesn’t it!

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And this is a gray catbird. Thanks, Doris.

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I have been watching for brochymenas, my favorite little six-legged carnivores, and Allison was good enough to spot a plant that sponsored about a dozen of them.

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Really cool! I love their armored structure.

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Here (above) is the armored underside of a brochymena.

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And of course, the insex are busy doing what comes naturally. We’re shocked, shocked!

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Not all is beer and skittles, however. I accumulated four ticks. Pretty little guys, but I was happy to give them the brush-off.

I flushed a grouse from the tall grass. It ran ahead of me for some distance, then took to the air. It veered to the left and flew head-on into a nearby quonset building. Quick 180, and off it went in the other direction. Takes real talent to slam into one of the very few buildings anywhere around.

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And finally, looking again at the tiny guys, we find an aphid colony. Some of everything.

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