Thursday, May 24, 2012

An afternoon at Spring Green Preserve

"Once you have heard the lark, known the swish of feet through hill-top grass and smelt the earth made ready for the seed, you are never again going to be fully happy about the cities and towns that man carries like a crippling weight upon his back."

~ Gwyn Thomas

Hoary Puccoon

During my vacation last week I spent one afternoon at Spring Green Preserve search of Lark Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Orchard Orioles, and other fascinating denizens of Wisconsin's very own desert prairie. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, this dazzling state natural area offers a unique selection of flora and fauna that can be observed nowhere else in Wisconsin. It’s a rare and irreplaceable combination of grassland birds, snakes, lizards, beetles, butterflies, plants, and wildflowers that occupy scenery looking like it ought to be far west of the Mississippi.

Lark Sparrow

Often times I wait right at the trailhead shelter for Lark Sparrows to perch on nearby stalks, small trees, or old fence posts. Next time you’re there check out the Lark Sparrow photograph on the interpretive sign; it was taken right from that very spot. Many of the fences posts have been removed over the years, but the sparrows are generally pretty accommodating for photographs along the entire trail no matter where they are. Sometimes you can find them walking on the ground combing through the prairie grasses for insect prey.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books."

~ John Lubbock

Blue-eyed Grass

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell

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