Check Out Photos from the Live Camera

One of the regulars in the Cherry Creek Habitat: a skunk

About this photo: One of the skunks we see regularly in habitat photos captured with the live cam.
This photo was taken March 28, 2015 at 1 a.m. CT

Last fall, a Web camera was mounted so everyone could watch a live stream view of the Cherry Creek Habitat 24/7. In addition to the change in seasons, viewers have also enjoyed wildlife using this educational area.

A couple weeks ago, I went through the camera still shots and pulled together some of the highlights from January-April 2015. Vicki in our office posted the photos to Flickr. The list of wildlife includes: two different skunks, two raccoons, two cats, a small herd of deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and a wild turkey. There is a description with the date/time of day each still photo was taken.

Cherry Creek Habitat Web Cam Still Photos 2015 – more photos will be added each month. Enjoy!

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

An Idea Whose Time Has Come…

Today’s editorial in the local newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star, focuses on the plight of bees and the United State’s efforts to do something about our pollinator populations.

From the editorial – June 30, 2014

Six years ago, at a time when news media were giving attention to the high rate of bee deaths, the Journal Star mused in a tongue-in-cheek editorial that maybe one day the nation would be forced into “dotting the landscape with national bee refuges………”

Take a moment to read the rest of the editorial on-line here.

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

 

We are in business!

Bee Hotel

Looking west – Native Bee Nest Box is finally outside

The native bee nest box structure that has graced our office lobby this winter has been moved outdoors into the Cherry Creek Habitat. We did as much as we could to make the structure weather sturdy. The bookshelf/roof and table were treated to be water resistant. The back was covered with a special material and today, I finished up the structure with some caulking. The nesting blocks were put in place and now we wait… OK – honestly, it looks terrific!

We keep adding to the pollinator area with natives, herbs, fruiting shrubs and grasses. Oregano, serviceberry, penstemon, blue vervain were planted this morning. We have native chokecherry and wild plum waiting for their turn. MJ bought some prairie plants at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum sale on Friday. She also planted a row of special sunflowers with her daughter over the weekend.

As for wildlife, a pair of red-winged blackbirds have a nest in the cattails behind the native bee nest box structure. They didn’t scold me quite as much today when I was outside working in the habitat. On Friday, there were several Baltimore Orioles in the Cottonwood tree. Grackles have been busy robbing the insect hotel of anything they can make nests out of and of course, we are finding deer tracks in the habitat after it rains.

One of our biggest challenges may be educating our own staff that not all thistles are bad. We have a beautiful second year tall thistle in the habitat. We decided it needed a special sign so it wouldn’t get dug up from helpful folks thinking it is a  noxious weed (it isn’t noxious by the way)… more on that another time 🙂

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Planning Your Garden & Pollinator-friendly Habitat

Rain barrel donated to our habitat project.

Rain barrel donated to our habitat project.

Some resources you may enjoy as you plan for spring! Be sure to include pollinator-friendly practices and habitats in your landscape plan:

What you can do right now! Now’s the time to start planning your insect and native bee habitat and nesting structures. We have some photos on the blog to help give you some ideas. From the February 2013 NEBLINE Newsletter (free) Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape (includes directions to make a native bee nesting block) and Biology of Native Bee Pollinators. Grab those scrap pieces of lumber and start drilling!

Are your seeds OK? Have you been saving seeds for your garden? There’s a simple experiment to see if your seeds are still good.  http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2004/seedsaving.shtml

Need inspiration? Take a look at these photos from Benjamin Vogt. Vogt lives in Lincoln and has a 2,000 sq ft native prairie garden. It is absolutely beautiful. Here he documents his prairie garden through the year (with some other photos thrown in!) Enjoy The| Deep| Middle – Living and Writing in the Prairie Echo

Reading suggestions to help get you through this cold winter – from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s blog “Beneficial Landscapes: the plants, wildlife, soil and water for our gardens” http://beneficiallandscapes.blogspot.com/

Add a Rain barrel – Try Harvesting Rainwater: We have a rain barrel for the Cherry Creek Habitat. Of course, it isn’t big enough to catch all the water run off – but it has been handy when we want to water specific plants. Consider adding a rain barrel and try other rainwater harvesting techniques this year! To help – UNL Extension has a brand new NebGuide. It provides information on how to use, install and collect rainwater. Rain barrels can be purchased or made. This publication is on-line and you can access it free! http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1612

Just announced! 2014 Artistic Rain Barrel Program: Prairie Theme! The Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center and the City of Lincoln Watershed Management Division are collaborating on a project to educate the community on the benefits of using rain barrels to reduce rainwater runoff and improve water quality. Local artists are invited to paint prairie themed designs on a rain barrel to celebrate the role prairies play in filtering stormwater runoff. The deadline to apply to participate is February 7, 2014http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/watrshed/educate/barrel/artist/

Landscape Sustainability:  Sustainable landscapes describes landscapes supporting environmental quality and conservation of natural resources. For many people, a sustainable landscape is hard to understand or visualize. Other terms such as xeriscape, native landscape, and environmentally friendly landscape have been used interchangeably to describe sustainable landscapes.A well-designed sustainable landscape reflects a high level of self-sufficiency. Once established, it should grow and mature virtually on its own — as if nature had planted it. This UNL Extension publication is available on-line free http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=203

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

EPA issues new pesticide labels to help protect pollinators

Apologies for the snippets and links, but important to get the information out:

Just released:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled new labels that prohibit the use of some of the controversial pesticides containing neonicotinoids where bees are present.

Here is the official press release from the EPA: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/C186766DF22B37D485257BC8005B0E64

NBC News release: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/epa-issues-new-pesticide-labels-warn-about-hazards-bees-6C10931490

Take a peek at the official EPA Bee Advisory Box label here http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/pollinator/bee-label-info-graphic.pdf

Summary of federal efforts to protect pollinators: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Create Your Own Pollinator Garden

Skipper on dotted gayfeather

Skipper on native dotted gayfeather – Spring Creek Prairie near Denton, NE

We’re waiting until fall to transplant some perennials and shrubs into the Cherry Creek Habitat – it’s just too hot now. If you’re thinking of creating a pollinator friendly landscape, now’s a good time to do some planning. You could start your project this fall. Here are some tips from the U.S. Forest Service:

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Plant in clumps or groups instead of single plantings of a flower. Try to use plants native to your area. Oh and don’t forget night-blooming flowers for moths and bats.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers. These flowers may look beautiful to us, but plant breeders may have sacrificed pollen, nectar and fragrance for their “modern” beauty.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible. Follow an Integrated Pest Management approach (IPM). Continue reading

We’re making progress!

Cherry Creek Habitat - Making Progress

Making Progress – July 2013

MJ, Dave and Chris have been busy working on the Cherry Creek Habitat. All of the erosion-prone areas look great now with a new river rock bed to slow the flow of water. What water does run off now, goes exactly where we want it (so far, so good!).  What a huge difference (see what it looked like when we first started)!!!

The grassy area (now mostly bare) is being converted into an area with plants beneficial to pollinators. When renovating, we left a few plants that were already growing there – heath aster, common milkweed, chicory and white clover. Most of the grass has been removed (still working on it). MJ brought in some wild violets (early bloomers) and rudbeckia (black-eyed susan) and those were planted recently. We’ll be adding more plants this fall – it is going to be too hot to do any more transplanting right now.

The old satellite pole has been capped, primed and painted. We’ll incorporate the pole into our plans (still working on it). Next week, we’ll get more wood chips from the landfill.

Even with all our activity, the deer are still wandering through the area leaving behind their telltale signs. We’re keeping a close watch on the plants to see if we need to take any steps to protect them from the nibblers.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

UNL Tracking Bumblebees

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Entomologists are planning to train high school students to track bumblebee queens. Radio tracking technology is available and the tiny devices will make it possible for students and researchers to track newly emerged queens to see where they decide to start a nest and what they do during the time between emergence and finding a nest. Here’s a link to the UNL/IANR News Press Release – “Entomlogists Begin Pilot Program to Track Bumblebee Queens” – July 2013

UNL professors are also working to create the ideal bumblebee box. Learn more about their project – read “UNL Professor Works to Crowdsource a Better Bumblebee Box” – July 2013

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Sensitive Sites, Pollinators and DriftWatch

This YouTube video from UNL Extension discusses sensitive sites, pesticides and their impact on pollinators. There are also suggestions on what farmer’s can do to reduce the risks to pollinators if they choose to use certain pesticides and by leaving habitat, like tree lines. Buzz Vance (yes, his name really is Buzz) from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture explains the current situation. Buzz is also a beekeeper so he has a personal interest in making sure our pollinator populations are healthy.

Near the end of the video is a segment on DriftWatch at https://driftwatch.org/ – an important tool for anyone with sensitive specialty crops and for producers using any pesticides around bees and other sensitive sites.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Getting a Prairie Pollinator Education

Penstemon in Bloom

Penstemon is one of the many native flowers blooming on Spring Creek Prairie in June. Beautiful!

Last week, we attended a Pollinators Workshop and Habitat Tour for Landowners. Very hands-on, very engaging – so glad we went!! Thanks to the folks with Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, Nebraska Game & Parks, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Nebraska Environmental Trust for making it possible.

The workshop was held at The Audubon Center at Spring Creek Prairie near Denton, Nebraska. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, please put the prairie on your bucket list! Less than 2 percent of the world’s original tallgrass prairie remains and we have our own preserve near Lincoln. It is an amazing place.

We learned about beekeeping, butterflies and native bees, other pollinators and of course, their benefits. On our tours of the prairie, we identified insects and plants native to the prairie. It was extremely windy (not a surprise on a prairie), but it made it difficult to observe pollinators when they are “blowin’ in the wind”. We also observed plants blooming now. As for wildlife? Great pollinator habitat is obviously great habitat for wildlife as well.

And hey, this morning our local Lincoln Journal Star newspaper has an article about encouraging farmers and landowners to add native plants and flowers for pollinators 🙂 You can read it here:

 http://journalstar.com/news/local/farmers-urged-to-feel-flower-power/article_d72fd56e-0dd7-5b73-b19d-d3c0aef8faf8.html

For information on how you can encourage pollinators on your farm or acreage, contact your local NRCS office.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu