The Field  This photo essay was shot entirely at The Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island which hosts and maintains one of the most endangered habitats on the planet: Grassland. Known by other names, meadow and prairie, these open areas team with biodiversity like no other. Old growth Grasslands can be home to hundreds of native grasses, shrubs, wildflowers, birds and insects, and scientists are still uncovering previously unknown species.   Though our collective imagination inaccurately places them west of the Mississippi only, Grasslands naturally existed from Long Island south to Florida, sweeping west to The Great Plains. Their destruction for housing developments and farmland has left precious little.  We have yet to fully understand what we are truly losing and how critical it is to the survival of every living thing on earth.

Sunrise on the old field Grassland, Mashomack Perserve.

An Indigo Bunting surveys from a Mulberry Tree.

A morning rainstorm reveals the architectural feat of an Orb-weaver Spider anchored to a colony of Flat-Topped, Seaside, and Wrinkle Leaf Goldenrod.

Field Sparrows court on a  Black Cherry Tree.

A moment's rest away from the nest for this Osprey.

A male Eastern Towhee looking for insects along a trail. 

Bees gather at dawn around a flowering Shining Sumac.

An Indigo Bunting hunts for insects among the Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Goldenrod and Bayberry.

A Cooper's Hawk hovers.

A Field Sparrow takes off from an Agrimony in a sea of Little Bluestem, Goldenrod and Hyssopleaf Thoroughwort.

A male Common Yellowthroat balances on a Prairie Rose's thorny branch.

An Eastern Bluebird on the lookout from atop a Dogwood. 

A Northern Mockingbird gets fed and the Smooth Sumac gets her seeds dispersed.

A female Common Yellowthroat scores an insect atop Roundleaf Greenbrier.

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things."  -Mary Oliver

An interested female Baltimore Oriole. 

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” -Rachel Carson

Mockingbird with late summer bounty.

A Red Winged Balckbird on an almost ripe Mulberry Tree.

Orb-weaver Spider's newly built web shimmers with dew. 

A Cedar Waxwings securing  a late summer fruit from a Pin Cherry Tree.

A colony of Switchgrass in the morning sun. 

Indigo Bunting safely nestled in Black Cherry  shrub.

Wild Mint.

Mulberry branch hosting both a Carolina Wren and a Tree-Dwelling Lichen.

A trio of House Finches gather on an Eastern Red Cedar above some green Crab Apple berries.

Honey and Bumble Bees attend a Shining Sumac.

A Fledgling Eastern Bluebird scouting for insects on a dead Black Cherry branch. 

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly balances  for a meal. 

"To reconnect with nature is key if we want to save the planet. If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls...there is no sharp line between humans and the rest."-Jane Goodall

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