Monday, June 15, 2009

Return to Spring Green Preserve


When I do drive my car to a natural area, I'll spend most of the day there exploring, observing, and documenting. As I've blogged before, Spring Green Preserve is one of my favorite places to visit. A major attraction for me is the prairie's often dramatic phenological changes in flora and fauna throughout spring, summer, and fall. There is always something new to see when visits are spaced apart by a week or more. Now the Dickcissels have returned and are getting down to the business of establishing territories and attracting mates.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrows and Lark Sparrows were plentiful. We (Dottie, Sylvia, and I) enjoyed watching a Lark Sparrow dismantle a grasshopper before carrying it off, perhaps to a nest of young. Another Lark Sparrow flew high above us and sang. His song was more than a female Lark Sparrow could resist and the pair copulated. It only lasts mere seconds, which seems inherently unfair given the astounding efforts of migration, protecting a territory, keeping a watchful eye out for predators, etc. But perhaps these are some of the very reasons for the apparent haste of the act.

Lark Sparrows:

One of my favorite insects was a Bearded Robber Fly draining the blood of its prey with its proboscis. Nearby, the dancing flight of a Little Wood Satyr caught my eye. I was fortunate that the butterfly paused just long enough for me to capture a nice photograph.

Bearded Robber Fly

Little Wood Satyr

June Grass

My favorite wildflower of our outing was this Venus's Looking-glass, but Prickly Pear Cacti are just too cool not to appreciate. Patches of Spiderwort, June Grass, Puccoon, and other wildflowers paint the prairie every color of the rainbow.

Prickly Pear Cactus:

When my time visiting with the prairie draws to a close for another day, I think about all the critters at work – how they'll be diligent in their struggle for existence all summer. Blossom, birth, prey and death; the cycle of life, itself, is a natural wonder to behold.

Venus's Looking-glass

© 2009 Mike McDowell

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