Meander in Meadowlark Meadow

Coneflowers and Big BluestemIn the Spring, we like Meadowlark Meadow for the melodies of all the nesting songbirds. But by August, the native grasses are taller than I am, and the Summer flowers, such as this gray-headed coneflower, are in full bloom. Just imagine native prairies such as this one as far as the eye can see. Beetle on Partridge Pea CloseupInsects are teeming in the grass and flowers, sometimes pollinating the flowers, sometimes eating the flowers, or being eaten by something else.Common Whitetail femaleTwo shallow ponds in the middle of the meadow are homes to frogs and multitudes of dragonflies among the cattails! Dragonflies are fierce insect predators, and the larger ones resemble B-52 bombers to me. The females are often different than the males. This is the female Common Whitetail, who doesn’t have a white tail at all.Eastern Amberwing DragonflyThey sometimes come in marvelous colors, like this Eastern Amberwings, and if you are lucky, you might see one actually perched for a photo op.Common Green Darner in FlightThis Common Green Darner decided to hover in place for a few seconds while reconnoitering the scene, then started dive bombing every other dragonfly on the pond. Skimming BluetWhile many dragonflies are huge, others are small and slender, such as this Skimming Bluet. You have to look twice to see it perched on a small leaf in the pond.Crows Mobbing TVWe’ve all seen small birds chasing much larger hawks in the sky. Usually we might think the small bird was protecting its nest from a predator and cheer it on. This morning, a pair of Crows chased a defenseless Turkey Vulture over the meadow. Now think about this… nesting season is over, and Turkey Vultures only eat carrion to begin with, so these Crows are just chasing it to make trouble. The poor Vulture is no threat to them at all!

Meadowlark Meadow in the Summer – what a marvelous experience!