Burning the Tall Grass Prairie


This is the time of year that I conduct prescribed burns on my farm.   I do them a bit differently than most people.    In general, most people perform very big burns conducted with a large team.  I tend to do things on a smaller scale.   I attempt to prep areas by isolating them with mowing and then burn relatively small areas at a time.   The video above is from 2015.  My friend, George Kopp, was kind enough to film me.    I use a hand-held propane torch to light the fire and then a leaf blower to put it out.    I learned the leaf blower trick from our local volunteer fire department.    I had to call them out during a Mizzou football bowl game on New Years day a few years back when a small fire got out of control.   I had it put out by the time they got there.   They took it pretty well.   God bless them.

My farm is multi-use.   You can see the horse jumping area in the background of the video.  You can also see my bluebird  nesting boxes.   The mowed areas between the sections of tall grass prairie serve several purposes.   They serve as fire breaks, as riding or hiking trails, and as short grass areas that are good habitat for the bluebirds.   I mow around and do not burn blackberry thickets.  These provide cover for a variety of native birds.   My daughter also likes to pick blackberries each summer and makes a great cobbler.

In addition to the leaf blower, I have developed a technique that involves my riding lawnmower.   George Kopp filmed and edited the video below.

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Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus)

Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus)

 

Pileated Woodpecker.   A very big bird.   I try to stay as close to my minimal focus distance as I can when photographing small birds.   For my 600 mm lens that is about 15 feet.  Any closer than that and the lens can no longer get objects in focus.  When this guy flew in, I could not even get him all in the frame.   I still like the close up.

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Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Common Grackle. These birds tend to look rather dull and dark from a distance, but if you get close enough, and have decent light, they are really quite spectacular.

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Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker. These guys are usually seen clinging to trees, but I caught him clinging to some stem still standing from the summer.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinas)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinas)

Red-bellied Woodpecker. I liked this photo because it showed some detail in the birds tongue. These birds are also common on our farm year round.

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Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

These birds are plentiful year round on our farm. Their calls might be mistaken for an owl early in the morning. They typically feed on the ground. I caught this one resting on an old log that I placed on the ground near the feeding area.

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Female Purple Finch

Female Purple Finch

Obviously not purple. I thought this might be some sparrow for a bit. I wish that I were a better birder, but I still struggle with all the different plumages that birds can have based on age, gender, or season.

 

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