Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie

Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie was covered in dew early this morning. All plants, wildflowers, and even orb spider webs were decorated with hundreds of tiny water droplets. On arrival, a heavy fog obscured the hillsides, but from the trail I could hear many Dickcissels and Grashopper Sparrows that were already well into their morning chorus.

Black-eyed Susan

The droplets slowly began to evaporate as the sun climbed higher into the sky. Today's forecast was calling for temperatures in the 90's with heat indices over 100. I knew I didn't have much time before temperatures would become unbearable, but for the few hours I was there the prairie rendered incredible beauty in color and sound.

Butterfly Weed

Yellow Goatsbeard


Common St. John's Wort

Wood Lily

Wood Lily

As the fog lifted and burned away, the grassland's songsters became visible. I met up with several Dickcissels that were busy defending their turf, surrounded by islands of wildflowers beneath them. I wish there was a way to capture both subjects in the same frame, but the male birds are almost always perched high up on a stick so their voices are given maximum range.

Several dragonfly species were present, including this Twelve-spotted Skimmer. Amazingly, I was able to get a super close-up shot with my hand-held macro lens. But as any amateur entomologist should know, dragonflies and other insects are a little easier to photograph early in the morning as they dry their wings in the warming sun.

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell

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