Sunday, May 22, 2011

Baxter's Hollow Sights

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.

Scarlet Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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.

Nodding Trillium

Spring Beauty

Jacob's Ladder


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

Wood Duck
Great Blue Heron
Black-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Winter Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. I saw you there!! I was with the small group from Stevens Point. Got your card that day, too, and looked up your blog. You do a great job, and your photography is amazing!

  2. Baxter's Hollow looks like a gem of a site. Beautiful images, especially those of the tanager and grosbeak in fine breeding plumage!

  3. Thanks for the comments! It's been a great spring for nature photography.

    Mike M.

  4. I was really hoping to make it up to Baxter's Hollow before leaving town for the summer, but I got too busy. Thank you for the pics, Mike. I'll make it a priority next May!