Monarch butterflies paused on their flight south for a nectar break on our fall-blooming asters. The purple New England Aster stands out in the patches of prairie plants this time of year. But the white upland asters make a great show too. (Or maybe I’m wrong on the name of those white flowers.)
I was surprised to come across a Sedge Wren today as I was walking the prairie to check on the Oaks we’ve planted. Finding Sedge Wrens is hit-and-miss here. Unlike any other bird I know of they are most abundant in August.
I was happy to see that most of the couple hundred Bur Oaks and Swamp White Oaks are in very good shape. A few of them are taller than I am. Over the next 50-100 years they should begin to become majestic trees.
On our morning hike today Lorna and I stumbled upon three River Otters swimming and feeding in Hillers Creek. This is the first time we’ve seen them here since we moved to the property in 1970.
I wasn’t able to photograph them but I found this picture on Wikipedia.
How do you know when the wild black raspberries are ripe?
A short walk at the PGT makes it obvious. I’m not sure which bird(s) perched here, but clearly we’re not the only ones who think the new benches are a great place to pause.
On the paved trails, coyotes and raccoons left their own evidence in a lot of purple seedy piles. Who knew that animals would find such comfort on concrete? We’ll have to compare with what’s up next: blackberry season!
I could sit in this spot at the edge of the savanna bluffs at the PGT forever. Listening to the tanager and wood thrush, watching for herons, enjoying whatever flowers or trees happen to be in bloom…. If you walk just 10 minutes or so on the mowed path towards Hillers Creek you’ll come to this new Valley Overlook.
Henslow’s Sparrow, Ammodramus henslowii
If you aren’t a serious birder you’ll probably find the Henslow’s Sparrow boring. It’s small, drab and it usually hangs out in low clumps of dried grass. Cornell’s website
calls them “uncommon and famously inconspicuous.”
The fact that it is uncommon makes it appealing to birders who want to add it to their life list. Last weekend we had a couple that drove up from Texas just to see this bird. The guy said he’d been looking for this bird for 30-years.
Henslow’s Sparrow are steadily declining in number because their grassland habitat is being converted to crop land. The only reason we are lucky enough to have them is that we’ve restored 200-acres of prairie.
I took this photograph this morning. I think we have 4 or 5 nesting pairs of Henslow’s Sparrow on the Prairie Garden Trust property right now.
This is one of the common warblers that nest at the Prairie Garden Trust. They tend to hide in the underbrush so it’s easier to hear them than it is to see them.
I photographed this one a few days ago at PawPaw Path along Hillers Creek.
This morning I found this male Summer Tanager hanging out at one of the new viewing areas we’ve built at the Prairie Garden Trust. We call it the Savanna Bluff Overlook.
He allowed me to get very close to get this shot. I’ve seen both the male and female in that area so I suspect they’ve got a nest.
Sidewalk by PGT Visitor Center
This is a shot of the sidewalk by the PGT Visitor Center taken this morning. We were out searching for new birds and found three beauties:
Every day new migrants are arriving. This morning I was able to see and photograph this Wilson’s Warbler
. He’s just passing through on his way to breed in Northern Canada. We also saw our first Green Heron today.
Peak song bird migration in Missouri typically occurs around May 10th.