June 14, 2009

Loess Hills Prairie Seminar

The Loess Hills of western Iowa are an interesting land form that only occurs in Iowa and China. A light colored soil called Loess was blown into huge piles to the east of the Missouri River and that was how they were formed. In some areas the soil is over 200 ft deep. This 200 mile long stretch of hills is rugged compared to much of Iowa and is home to many interesting animals and plants. The Loess soil has a hard time retaining water and atop the dry ridge tops the prairie is dry and is home to species of both plants and animals that are found further west where it is drier.

The Loess Hills Prairie Seminar was created to help acquaint people with these hills (which I live in) and get them to understand their importance. Many people including me go to the seminar to learn about these hills and about all the plants and animals that inhabit them. I didn't just go to learn this time like I have in recent years but I also went to teach. I did a presentation called "An Introduction to Birdwatching". Twelve people came and a few seemed very interested in birdwatching and some even took notes! It was neat to have a chance to share birding with other people.

I saw a few birds including Black-billed Cuckoo, Blue-winged Warbler, and Northern Parula while I was at the seminar a few weeks back.

One thing I tried to do at the seminar is to learn about plants. I went on a hike to learn about prairie plants with a professor from Iowa State University and learned a lot from him as did the other participants. I took some of these pictures of the plants I saw the trip and during the rest of the weekend. Amazingly I managed to not get one single photo of a bird! Don't worry, the plants will never replace the birds.

Purple Locoweed Large-flowered Bearded Tongue
Prairie Phlox
Hoary Puccoon Soapweed (Yucca)

Prairie Turnip
Low Bindweed
Downy Painted Cup
Ground Plum
Blue-eyed Grass

1 comment:

Dianne said...

I was just searching the Internet for Loess Hills Prairie Seminar can came upon this! What a great account about the seminar and nice photos. So glad you will be doing this intro to birding again on June 6 at the LHPS!