Reference my earlier post entitled Jewelweed – Friend or Foe? This year I’m more than grateful to have the Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) growing in my yard. With all the damage to my prairie, I have so little quantity and, to a lesser extent, variety of plants standing upright that the jewelweed has become a great alternative for the bees.
While our friend Mark was busily cutting up a fallen native Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) tree, a Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) moth was busily nectaring on native Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa).
You can still hear Mark’s chainsaw in the background while this Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly was busily nectaring on native Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum).
By now you’re probably getting tired of reading about my visit to the Tallgrass Prairie, but we took so many little videos of what we saw, I just had to share a few with you. Our vacation to the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie was truly another trip of a lifetime.
Oh My! The Wind!!
During our mid-June 2019 tour of the Tallgrass Prairie area of Kansas, we experienced thunderstorms several evenings with windy weather during the day.
Here at this overlook along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway, it was so windy I couldn’t hold the camera still, but I did manage to get a few frames of this Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) and some audio of its song.
The swaying of the Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and the Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) is a good indication of how hard the wind was blowing. The wind made it difficult to take well-focused photos of the beautiful native Kansas forbs.
The brilliant orange color of the Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)was awesome. I guess the pollinators thought so too, because throughout our search for native wildflowers we found a variety of insects nectaring on its nourishing offerings. Shown here is the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) butterfly. Listen to the wind in the background.
One of the awesome videos we took was of these two Common Buckeyes (Junonia coenia) on Sullivan’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) at a garden spot along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway garden.
During our mid-June 2019 visit to the Flint Hills area of the Tallgrass Prairie, we saw many beautiful wildflowers and the pollinators with which they evolved. The native prairie plant known as Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) shown here offers a feast for a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly. The blue plant is called Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis). Sullivant’s Milkweed was the predominant plant we saw throughout our touring. Great habitat for the Monarch butterflies.
I’m a Railroad Buff
I know I haven’t talked about it much in my blog, but my husband John and I are train buffs. Most of our vacations center around some location where we can search out steam engines and other railroad related “stuff.” When I’m on my own, I’m afraid there is no exception. The sound of a train whistle makes me giddy and we need to go in search of its origin. Sue was very patient with me.
During our drive over to the Tallgrass Prairie, we stopped in Des Moines, Iowa for gas. While there we caught this awesome sight of two BNSF trains passing each other in the local train yard. Listen to the train whistle in the background. First you’ll see a four engine train led by engine 6761 from the left and then a train led by engine 7792 passes it from the right. It was a thrill for me; not so much for Sue….
We started our third day in the Tallgrass Prairie by catching a tour at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve’s Visitor Center. We boarded the bus with many other eager enthusiasts and began our journey on a bumpy dirt road through the surrounding prairie. When we got to the highest point in the prairie, we all got out and enjoyed a 360 degree view. It was almost overwhelming! What a awesome sight!!
After the tour, we drove north to the Native Stone Byway. On this trek we found even more native prairie plants and some of the most beautiful stone fences made of native limestone.
We topped the day off with a visit to the Alma Creamery and enjoyed samples of some of the most delicious, creamy cheeses you can imagine. So, of course, we had to take some home with us. (My family and I have enjoyed every bite!)