28 July 2013

Nine Mile Prairie Visited

It was one of those rare days when nature truly shows her splendor. it was April 8th when I made a visit to Nine-mile prairie. The day was cool, slightly windy with fluffy cumulus clouds floating overhead. Upon getting out of the car, there was an immediate difference noted. Gone was the noise of civilization. It had been replaced by the subdued sounds of nature.

Heading south from the road the walk towards the ravine was accompanied by the musical song of the meadowlarks as they proclaimed to all who heard that this was their territory and was not to be taken away. Another avian species also making their presence known was the black-capped chickadee. The clear chick-a-dee-dee-dee of this little member of the titmice family directed ones attention to their antics as they busily searched for early season insects on the trees. Only a flash of white through the brush diverted attention from the birds. Was it deer? Quiet stalking to a lookout up a tree brought the answer. Five white-tailed deer could be seen trying to escape unnoticed. With the lack of cover on the grassy areas preventing this the whitetails bounded off to the south. Continuing up the draw and hiking along a small gently flowing stream, two large raptors were flushed from the decaying snag of a tree. As the great horned owls flew out of sight a look at the base of the tree revealed that these denizens of the night had been feeding on birds. Feather remains under the owls perch showed that possibly meadowlarks were one of the recent meals. With the trees of the draw giving way to the dull brown of the still dormant grasses, changing weather captured my attention. the white fluffy cumulus clouds had given way to dark stormy clouds coming in from the west. With the look of potential rain a hurried walk back to the car was begun. Nature wouldn't wait and soon a light drizzle began to fall. Lasting but a few moments the water droplets served to create one of the most beautiful sights in nature. It was a rainbow. The colored bands of this wonder arched across the entire eastern sky. With the dark backdrop of the storm clouds which had passed over this colorful phenomenon created the perfect setting for the end of a visit to an area which has surely been a part of this occurrence many times before.

May 1979. Babbling Brook, page 4. Newsletter of the Wachiska Audubon Society.