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Monday, June 6, 2011

Birds, Butterflies and Bugs

We had an interesting trip Sunday to Dunn Ranch Nature Preserve up by Eagleville, MO.
Mark and Ruth our leaders took our group around the area stopping at places they knew from their breeding counts where we may be able to spot birds. (They have been doing the count for 10 years and they were going to do another starting today, we were they're scouting trip.)
Mark is passionate about conserving the prairies of MO and the few Prairie chickens left.
We didn't see any Prairie Chickens as they are most probably on the nest or taking care of chicks (we hope). Mark told us that at last count there were only 11 males left in the area and the hard winter and wet spring were not good for the birds and their chicks.
The Nature Conservatory purchased the ranch as it is the last of the native prairie that had not been touched by a plow in MO, it had been overgrazed by cattle and some nonnative grasses such as fescew had invaded areas. The conservatory has worked the area back to a natural state and is getting help from area farmers as some are converting some of their pastures back to prairie by cutting down trees and burning to get the native plants back which in turn help the prairie chicken population and other prairie species such as the Upland Sandpiper and Bobolinks.
Saturday we went to get some zinnia plants at the local hardware store (Walmart here isn't carrying many plants this year). Ken was looking at the dill and fennel and found several containers had Black swallowtail caterpillars on the plants, the plants didn't look too healthy as they were getting root bound. We asked if they would give us the plants with the caterpillars since we were going to purchase several other plants and they did.
So we took them home put the plants and zinnias in the garden, we had 10 caterpillars, we hope they will become butterflies not food for our robins.
We found this Cicada at the Overland Park Arboretum, actually several but later on Saturday we stopped at a neighbors and they had a yard full of their larva shells. These are the 13 year cicadas, pretty little bugs but we will be having a noisey summer!
Just a few of the little things we like to take notice of.
Til next time, enjoy the little things!

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