Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Ends

Spring Green Preserve

We've reached the end of a rather hot and rainy June. Days off work with good weather have been a little hard to come by, so my nature outings were fewer this month. Spring Green Preserve has an incredible diversity and richness of subjects to offer the naturalist and nature photographer, making it an easy destination choice on a day off with gorgeous weather. I rave about Spring Green frequently and my blog readers know it's of my favorite natural areas in Wisconsin; I'm very thankful it's close to Madison.


Throughout spring, summer, and fall, the prairie transfers from one accent to another. Sometimes yellow prevails against the green, other times it's blue or purple. St. John's Wort is wrapping up, so too has Goats Rue, and the Prickly Pear Cactus bloom is nearly over. Still, some early June wildflowers linger. Now flowering Lead Plant has the stage. Though it seems rather diminutive at a quick glance, it's a pretty astonishing flower when viewed up close.

Lead Plant

Lark Sparrow

The most obvious birds of the prairie are sparrows: Field, Grasshopper, Vesper, and Lark Sparrows. It's nice that there seems to be a bumper crop of Grasshopper Sparrows this year. The males are still busy defending territories with song, which gave me plenty of opportunities to capture nice portraits of them.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

When walking the sandy trails at Spring Green Preserve, don't forget to look down. There are lots of interesting insects like Tiger Beetles, Velvet Ants, Dung Beetles, and Robber Flies just in front of your feet as you walk.

Big Sand Tiger Beetle

Robber Fly

I think Robber Flies are frighteningly cool insects that resemble something out of sci-fi horror flick with nasty behavior to boot. They have a spike-shaped proboscis that they jab into their prey and use it to inject saliva containing a mix of neurotoxins and enzymes that paralyze and digest the insides. Nice, huh? The devilish fly then sucks out the liquefied meal through its proboscis.

Robber Fly with prey

© 2010 Mike McDowell


  1. Another interesting post, thanks.

  2. nice shots as always!

  3. Have you put out a Pheasant Branch calendar yet? The banner photo would be perfect.

  4. Except that's a photo of Spring Green Prairie!

    Some of my photography is featured annually in the Friends of Pheasant Branch Phenology Calendar. You can find it at