September the Long Goodbye

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass

A prairie of Tall Bluestem Native Grass.

Sunday, September 26, I stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to pick tall bluestem seed for a seed saving project. We want to offer online prairie friends the opportunity to buy a little of our native grass seed. We don’t sell seed by the pound or even by the ounce for that matter. When we ship common milkweed seed, the package contains 20-30 seeds. Tomorrow I will mail milkweed seed to Florida and Virginia. People are not greedy. They just want to help the butterfly by planting the host plant for the monarch.

As I strolled leisurely through the habitat, I saw at least a dozen yellow sulphur butterflies flitting about gathering nectar from periwinkle showy asters and yellow blooming birds foot trefoil. Among the stiff and showy goldenrod, I saw many species of native bees sipping nectar.

Summer may be over but the habitat is still alive with the activity of smaller species such as the insects which I saw in the warm sun enjoying the last days of blooming wildflowers. Soon a colder freeze will come and all life will go dormant to wait out the long cold winter.

Native bumblebees

Native bumblebees

I am enjoying these last few days of documenting and photographing the littlest of species that make our natural world complete.

Monitoring Native Species at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden – August 2010

AUGUST 2010

 August 12 – Stonelake Garden Club came for a tour of the habitat. There were 33 women from the garden club and they enjoyed learning about forbs and grasses. The tall bluestem grass is over 6 feet tall and it is like walking through a tunnel in some areas where the rain drenched earth produced tall stands in the wettest part of the sandy prairie.

The week of August 9 – 14 so very hot that we didn’t work in the habitat.  The temperature is supposed to cool next week.  Looking forward to placing the sculpture art in the habitat.

August 18 – The sculpture art is still not in. It has been raining quite steadily for at least two weeks now.  I don’t mind. Matter of fact, I do a Nibi Wabo Water Ceremony to bless the tears of the sky.  The habitat is happy with singing crickets. I believe I heard a frog out there this early evening as I walked through area two.

I was happy to see monarch caterpillars on several milkweeds throughout the habitat today. I feel we have an incubator this year because the adult females have found that the habitat is for them.  I love to see the waving and pollinating grasses dressed in dripping gold and yellows dangling from the flower heads waving in the breeze.  There is nothing quite like it as I pause to gaze at ground covering purple Prairie dropseed, what might be a little bluestem and one beauty I still haven’t identified. 

The plant ID plaques are nearly all in place. The hand-made large standing bird house is looking good in area three. Brennan Harrington placed a wooded stand under it so it now stands a little taller than the split rail fence.

 August 23 – I agree with Corey Bradshaw, Conservation Biologist in Australia. Limited monitoring of species does not give the big picture to show any pattern of species biodiversity, one needs to look at the long and broad view. Please read his article at http://conservationbytes.com/2010/08/24/long-deep-broad/

None the less, we are making minute monitoring observations at least. I felt it was important to document what we are seeing as an environmental education organization. I wanted to show and tell what is happening to biodiversity of animals and plant species in the Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie which is a Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, USA.

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