Lichen Bluff

Lichen Bluff

Lichen Bluff

Visitors to the Prairie Garden Trust are always surprised to see rocky bluffs and steep hillsides. We call this Lichen Bluff because is is covered with some fabulous lichen. In the background is Hillers Creek valley. I took this picture at sunrise this morning.

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Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea

Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea

When I think “Prairie” I see Purple Coneflowers. They can be found in small clumps in many locations here at the PGT. Often I find them at the edges of the prairie where there are a few trees.

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Woodland Path

We opened up the edges of the woods to allow more light in. That light allows more flowers to grow. This morning I found a patch of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) blooming along a path at the edge of the South 40 Woods. They are the yellow flowers under the hickory tree.

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Savanna Bluff Overlook

Viewing platform at the savanna bluff overlook

Viewing platform at the savanna bluff overlook

Construction started this week on the viewing platform at the Savanna Bluff Overlook. This picture shows the galvanized steel frame that forms the base.

This structure will be a place to pause and look out on Hiller’s Creek valley. There are good views of the Great Blue Heron rookery. It is an easy 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center.

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Creek Reflection

The reflections on Hiller’s Creek were wonderful last night.
You can see how lush the vegetation is here this year with all the rain we’ve had. It is green everywhere!

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Construction Starts!

Truckloads of rocks were delivered this morning to the PGT Center. This is the start of the construction projects we’ve been waiting for. Rain the last couple months delayed things but now we are ready to start.

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Where have all the Butterflies gone?

Battus philenor

Spicebush Swallowtail, Battus philenor

I’d guess that the number of butterflies at the PGT is down by 90%. Even though their favorite nectar plants are in bloom right now there are very few butterflies around. I am seeing a lot of Liatris, Buttonbush, Coneflowers and Milkweeds flowering. Typically that is what tells me to grab my camera and go take pictures.

Instead of swarms of butterflies over the plants I’m seeing just an occasional single specimen; typically a Spicebush Swallowtail (Battus philenor) like you can see on this picture that I took after lunch today.

Some people have suggested the wet weather hurts them. I hope they recover soon!

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The Point

North Side of The Point

North Side of The Point

One of the magical spots at the PGT is The Point. It is a rocky bluff that looks out on to the Hiller’s Creek valley. This picture looks up at the steep north slope to The Point.
As I was finishing taking this picture tonight lighting bugs were flying and flashing all around me.

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Butterfly Count Down

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

The PGT Butterfly walk on Saturday was fun but the total number of butterflies seen was way down. The weather was perfect and we did see 26 different species but none were seen in large numbers like you would expect.
The reason for the low count is not clear. The nectar plants that butterflies feed on are abundant this year; the prairies here are filled with flowers.
Could it be the lingering effect of the severe drought a couple years ago be keeping the numbers down? Could the heavy rainfall or cool weather this year be harming them? Other thoughts?
Here is the census from this year:
Black Swallowtail 2
Question Mark 2
Pipevine Swallowtail 15
Snowberry Clearwing 1
Northern Broken-dash 2
Pearl Crescent 6
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 4
Red Admiral 3
Cabbage White 5
Least Skipper 2
Silver-spotted Skipper 5
Great Spangled Fritillary 26
Common Buckeye 3
Horace’s Duskywing 1
Giant Swallowtail 1
Unknown Grass Skipper 4
Unknown Duskywing 1
American Lady 1
Geometrid Moth 1
Summer Azure 1
Hummingbird Clearwing 1
Monarch 3
Little Yellow 1
American Snout 1
Orange Sulphur 1
Eastern Tailed-Blue 1
Attached is a picture of a Pipeline Swallowtail on Monarda.

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Early Summer Prairie

After a brief storm this evening the skies cleared and light flooded the prairie. This is the “5-Acre Prairie” just east of the Prairie Garden Trust Visitor Center.

If you look closely you will see Lead Plant, Mountain Mint, Grey-headed Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susan.

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