Schaefer Prairie Preserve Phenology Project 2014

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Opening Day 

2013 on the left

2014 on the right

     My Citizen Science  phenology project with The Nature Conservancy will be active this year, for the third season.  One year before the study began, I visited Schaefers on a weekly basis to explore and to construct the pieces of the study. A weekly visit seems like a lot of time, however in this wonderfully diverse Eastern Tallgrass prairie remnant there is always something interesting going on to distract 
even the most disciplined observer.

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This male Red Winged Blackbird was one of a great flock of mostly males that were migrating north without females.  They get on territory like this male, and then display uncontrollably until the females catch up an make mate selections.

Each week observations are made of the four species of plants that  we are observing for the National Phenology Network. (Purple Prairie Clover , Big Bluestem, Common Milkweed and Tall Blazing Star, three specimens of each species )  Each trip we construct and Ebird list of the birds that we observe.  The data for the National Phenology Network and Ebird are emailed directly from Schaefers.
In past years our method involved driving the perimeter on the north and east for an hour, birding before going to make the plant observations. After making the observations we would often spend time walking and photographing the wildlife and blooming plants.  We recorded over 101 species of birds in 2012 and 116 species for birds in 2013. 
This year I will sit in one area of the preserve for 2 hours, sometimes using my blind, and other times using natural blind materials.  One of the reasons for doing this is make observations without disrupting life, as I photograph.  

This blog will be a place for me to post a few photographs of the week, and to comment on the connections that come to my mind from the experience.  Other photographers, writers, artists, and thinkers will be invited to Schaefer Preserve, and it is my intention to ask them to contribute their connections to nature sharing their experience.

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