Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Taming Tarantulas

     As the video explains, this is a Texas brown tarantula.  This is probably the most common of two to three species found in Kansas and is prevalent along the southern third tier of counties.  I found this one in my favorite place, the Red Hills.  The males, as this one is, will be found starting usually in June moving around looking for females.  A more major movement occurs in September when numerous Tarantulas can be seen crossing roads at certain times.  They are typically quite docile and can make interesting pets although the males usually don't live past a year.  They have fangs and can bite.  I've not experienced that and hope not to but these animals are quite harmless.  They, however, can eject hairs on their abdomen which can be irritating to skin and eyes although I've not had that issue with them yet.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Snakes are So Cool!

     Even though it was a bit windy this weekend, herps were active. We found several snakes and lots of lizards in our own little Kansas Outback.  The longnose snake was reported the post prior by grand-daughter Teilee.  I re-reported it with this assortment because of the nice mix of species.  The lizard is a six-lined racerunner (I misreported as a prairie racerunner in the video, sorry.)  Snakes always evoke interest and responses, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.  I simply exhibit them here to convey how cool they can be.  Herps are a natural magnet for kids' attention, as well as for most adults.  Experiencing nature is so easy in Kansas and most other places.  Few wild things evoke so much interest as herps.  Learning about them is so easy too.  Google Kansas Herp Atlas for all things cool and scientific about turtles, snakes, salamaders, lizards, toads and frogs in the state.  The book you will want to buy or reference is Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles in Kansas by Joseph T. Collins, Suzanne L. Collins and Travis Taggart.  Discover the cure for Nature Deficit Disorder--befriend a herp!  (Videography by Andi Brunson-Williams)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Longnose Snake for Nature Deficit Disorder

Today was a great herp day in the Kansas Outback.  Here, Teilee talks about the Longnose Snake she found.  Its only the second record in Pratt County.  This is a Threatened Species on the Kansas listings so its not very common and certainly less common north of the Red Hills and Southwest Kansas.  This is a harmless and beautiful snake of Kansas--one of the 38 species known for the state.  If Nature Deficit Disorder is the huge issue for children's education, herps are perhaps the best answer.  Once kids are taught about the five venomous snakes, there's virtually no herps which are very dangerous.  Small snakes in particular are always interesting to kids and lead to an endless series of questions and inquiry.  Its relatively easy to get near nature in Kansas.  The nearest park, backyard, public lake or wildlife area or your own special place in the Kansas Outback can yield incredible learning and entertainment for the whole family.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Red Hills Regalia

Rayless gailardia leads this roadside procession of Norton's and stiff flaxes along Sandy Creek Road in
 Barber County
       The Red Hills region is ablaze with wildflowers.  Suffering through 18 months of drought, the Red Hills as well as all of southwest Kansas has been brought to life again with recent rains.  Grasses and wildflowers survived in a mostly dormant condition last year.  But spring rains have awakened the prairie.  Nature's bouquet is in one of the most impressive presentations in many years.  This is an instance of when pictures alone help convey the beauty.  But, if you want to see some of the best palette of colors the Kansas prairie has to offer, this year is the year and now is the time.  From the earliest blooming Easter daisies, through the current profusion of various flaxes, evening primroses, penstemons, spiderwort and Indian blanket, the Red Hills floral display is dazzling.  Experience some of nature's finest natural exhibit which is now showing and will continue on through the year, contingent on the chance for more rains.  
Some more prairie eye candy:
Cobea penstamon
Echinacea (black sampson or snakeroot)

 Stiff flax