wildlife prairie state park

Hello to the Bison Herd. Prairie State Park, Missouri, USA. November 2016.

After months of visiting Prairie State Park and searching for the bison herd, I found them. How I wish I had a better lens! I’ll post more photos, but all will be seriously edited as I simply stood quietly at a distance to admire and shoot them.

This prairie is my ancestral homeland. My father’s people were born here, farmed here, and many are buried down the road, where I’ll join them someday. Until yesterday, I felt that this was my prairie, visiting for solace and reflection. Observing these magnificent bison on their homeland, just as they would have been years before me and my ancestors, changed that. It was never my prairie. I’m glad they share it with me and I thanked them and the Great Spirit.

Bison Life on the Prairie. Prairie State Park, Missouri, USA. November 2016

“In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life”
Elton John, Circle of Life

Always remember you are a guest in their home. This bull gator, who I estimate was a hair over 12ft, reminded me that of that fact recently. 

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, FL

Prairie Crayfish. September 2016. Prairie State Park, Missouri, USA.

Happy Birthday @amymontico 

Amy taught me the value of looking closer at what I photograph, much closer. Look who I found on the open prairie, the rare and elusive prairie crayfish, and seconds after this shot, it ran from me. By the way, most people track buffalo and elk at Prairie State Park.

Whooping Crane (Grus americana)

The whooping crane is currently trying to make a comeback. In the 1940s there were 21 birds left in a single flock. Thanks to recovery efforts and wetlands restorations, there are currently around 600 whooping cranes today with over 400 individuals in the wild, though their futures remains uncertain. 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, FL

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

You can really see the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) of this gator. The nictitating membrane is not perfectly clear, but the gator can see through it enough to swim without bumping into things. 

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, FL