Baxter's Hollow - Otter Creek
Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills is a very special natural area where I've come to expect the unexpected. Without a doubt, watching over sixty Tiger Swallowtails mud-puddling was the highlight of my weekend excursion there. Actually, as a lifelong admirer of the Lepidoptera, this was an experience I've longed to witness for decades; I'm glad it happened at Baxter's with a small group of friends to share it with.
Mud-puddling Tiger Swallowtails
The discerning nature enthusiast will find so many colors and shapes to behold at Baxter's Hollow that it can almost be a distraction from birding. I'm fortunate that I've studied birdsong long enough that my eyes can fix upon insects, snails, snakes, and wildflowers while my ears always remain ready to identify even the most diminutive chirp or call.
White-lip Globelet (I think!)
Northern Brown Snake
Scarlet Tangers were singing throughout the day. We heard both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos and were treated to fantastic binocular views of the latter. Rose-breasted Grosbeak males were busy singing to attract mates and a Winter Wren's energetic song announced its presence with its series of complex notes and phrases.
I spent a great deal of time photographing wildflowers. Yellow Lady Slippers were not yet in bloom, but there were plenty of other fantastic ones like Nodding Trillium, Columbine, Jacob's Ladder, and Spring Beauty.
By the end of the day on Sunday I felt a little like this Pine Squirrel:
Ready for nap!
Location: Baxter's Hollow SNA
Observation date: 5/21/11
Number of species: 54
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Cape May Warbler
All images © 2011 Mike McDowell