A Summer Day On The Prairie

As I’m driving to Chico Basin Ranch in eastern El Paso County, the sun rises like an orange balloon above the horizon, hazy with smoke from wildfires farther west. I am eager to spend this July morning at one of my favorite birding destinations, which I haven’t visited since the end of May. Migration has ended, but I’m excited to watch the goings-on among the resident birds and their offspring, who noisily demand constant attention from their parents.

At one of my stops, I’m surrounded by a small herd of horses, happy to be out of the corral and wandering wherever their noses lead them. Their velveteen muzzles tickle my skin while they sniff me over, but they soon continue to meander from one verdant plant to the next, munching contentedly. Our early spring rains and precipitation from summer showers have transformed an often brown and sere landscape into a canvas of green (at least what counts as green in this arid climate). Those rains have also brought forth pockets of wildflowers and I’m delighted by blossoms of cholla, prickly poppies, sunflowers, and morning glories.

The air is redolent with the sweet perfume of the season and resounds with melodies both dulcet and harsh: the chorus of bullfrogs croaking in different keys; the hum of flies and mosquitoes; the nearly silent whir of myriad dragon- and damselfly wings as they skim the pond surface; the drone of a plane engine high in the sky; the tweets, chirps, and songs of feathered friends nearby. By the time the first tentative thrill of cicadas is supplanted by their more insistent piercing buzz, I’m ready to shed the long sleeves I donned in the cool morning hours.

When noon rolls around, the mercury has almost climbed to 80, and heat causes the land to shimmer with haze, I’m ready to say “goodbye, until next time.” Grateful to have heart and soul filled with nature’s sights, sounds, and smells, as well as other precious gifts; and with a renewed appreciation for its patient and persistent cycles in the face of numberless forces that threaten to unravel life as we know it.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

57 thoughts on “A Summer Day On The Prairie

    • Thank you, Brian. As the ranch has a couple of ponds, it always attracts a lot of wildlife, but as more moisture means more plant growth and possibly more insects, I suspect that it’s a busier in a wet than a dry year.

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  1. Ein wunderschöner Tag war das, ich wäre sehr gerne mit dir dort gewesen, liebe Tanja.
    Die Vögel sehen anders aus, aber sie singen genauso wie hier.
    Heute könnte ich dir Regen schicken.
    Sogar eine Unwetter Warnung haben wir.
    Bislang ist Bremen, anders als der Westen und Süden, ohne Wetterkapriolen durch das Jahr gekommen.
    Schaun wir mal.
    Dir wünsche ich einen schönen Tag, hoffentlich nicht zu heiß, aber daran bist du gewöhnt, gell.
    Viele liebe Grüße Brigitte

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh ja, liebe Brigitte, dort würde es Dir auch gut gefallen. Es ist einer der besten Birding Hotspots hier in der Gegend, und wir könnten dort tagelang zusamman Vögel beobachten. 😊
      Wir würden Euren Regen gerne teilen, aber ich glaube die Westküste braucht ihn noch mehr. Wenn wir ihn nur etwas besser verteilen könnten, wäre das gut!
      Alles Liebe,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not as green as Maine, but green nonetheless. 😉 Until today, I had never heard of a dickcissel bird. Lo and behold, two of my blogging friends feature it on their posts. Wonderful pictures, and I especially liked seeing the horses.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love when you blog about prairies, Tanja. Such a whole other world to me! There is a lot of discussion among New England gardeners about landscaping with less water as we see more effects of climate change. “Prairie planting” is surely trending.

    But, let’s be honest, the stars of this blog for me were the wild horses. Oh, nuzzling right up to you…break my heart!
    Cue Michael Murphy’s “Wildfire”…
    Cheers,
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed visiting the prairie with me, Julie. A warming climate and water woes are good reasons to plant drought-resistant plants, which is our long-term goal here as well, but it takes time, effort, and, there is no denying it, money.

      Meeting horses is always a special treat and I never turn down equine therapy. I wasn’t familiar with the song by Michael Murphy you referenced but I listened to it and understand why you like it. 🙂

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      • You know, of course I’ve seen the German on your replies, but I didn’t realize you didn’t grow up here. Wow, this pandemic and all the current problems overseas must weigh heavily on you. I hope your family is okay.
        Julie

        Liked by 1 person

      • They are, Julie, thanks for asking. But they are understandably concerned about those affected, and also because at some future point other regions will suffer similarly devastating events. The unpredictability of some of these catastrophes are very unsettling.

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  4. Wonderfully descriptive prose, Tanja, with some great shots. It sounds like your part of the world has benefited from plentiful rain. I love prairies and the endless sky. Our forest’s canopy is so different but beautiful in it’s own way. K x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ein wunderschöner und stimmungsvoller Bericht ist das, liebe Tanja, den ich gerne gelesen habe. Dazu vermitteln deine beschwingten, sommerlichen Fotos einen wunderbar entspannten und friedvollen Eindruck.
    Wir lieben es ebenfalls, Vögel zu beobachten und haben in unserem Garten diverse Nistkästen und Vogelhäuschen aufgestellt. Im Netz schauen wir uns auch gern die vom NABU zur Verfügung gestellten webcams an, die in Echtzeit das Brüten und Aufziehen der Jungvögel zeigen und die zu beobachten eine wahre Freude ist.
    Liebe Grüße aus dem sommerlichen Nieselregen….
    von Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liebe Rosie,
      Es freut mich sehr, daß Dir der Ausflug nach Colorado gefallen hat. So grün wie in vielen Gegenden Deutschlands ist es hier nicht, aber in jeder Umgebung kann Mutter Natur mit ihrem Pflanzen und Bewohnern erfreuen.
      Auch hier gibt es zur Zeit viele Jungvögel und ihnen sowie ihren Eltern zuzuschauen ist einer der Höhepunkte des Sommers. Ich wünsche Euch weiterhin wunderbare Entdeckungen im Garten und auf freier Flur.
      Herzliche Grüße,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Not everyone loves a prairie. I sometimes hear the sort of response that Kansas or Nebraska evoke: “There’s nothing there!” Your post is one more bit of proof that they’re quite wrong. There’s a lot to see on the prairies, and a lot to love. I used to wonder why my transition from offshore sailing to prairie wandering was so easy, and I finally got it; the horizon is the common element. One of my favorite groups, the Tallgrass Express, has a perfect song that captures the feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lovely song, Linda. I was among those who did not appreciate the prairie for its immense variety when I only knew it from looong cross-country trips from CO to the Midwest. But once I spent time on the prairie and discovered its immense richness, that feeling changed quickly.

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  7. Wegen Corona kann ich nicht mehr in den USA Urlaub machen, ich liebe das Land, die noch großartige Natur. Paßt gut auf alles auf.
    Liebe Grüße
    Maren
    P.S. ich habe mit Fotografien Ideen vorgegeben für die Illutrationen, da ich im Worpswede Tipps Team bin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ja, die Natur hier ist noch immer fabelhaft, wenn sie auch immer größere und schwierige Prüfungen überstehen muß, wie die Natur in fast der ganzen Welt.
      Ich danke Dir, daß Du mir Deine Rolle in der Bücherserie erklärt hast. Darauf kannst Du stolz sein.
      Herzliche Grüße zurück,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

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