Saturday, May 25, 2013

A visit to Spring Green Preserve

Spring Green Preserve is an awesome place for nature photographers; there's something for every nature enthusiast to enjoy and appreciate. From fascinating insects and reptiles, wildflowers, to beautiful scenery, and of course, lots of interesting grassland birds. With yesterday's gorgeous weather, it was an excellent place to spend my afternoon.

Prickly Pear Cactus

On the scenery side of things, I finally got to see the landscape of the prairie without the oak barrens that used to be in the southwest corner by the parking area. It's somewhat perplexing to consider this an improvement, as it was habitat for a multitude of bird species, including Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Brown Thrasher, and others. Aesthetically, it shielded the prairie from the road and town and also provided a degree of sound proofing. Steve Richter, The Nature Conservancy's director of conservation in agricultural landscapes, explains why this clearing was done at this link.

Lark Sparrow

It didn't take long to find a few Lark Sparrows. Spring Green Prairie is one of the few places in Wisconsin where this species can be observed in respectable numbers. This particular individual moved down from its perch to investigate something along the sandy trail.

A little bit further down the trail, I found another handsomely perched Lark Sparrow surveying its domain. As sparrows go, these are especially attractive ones. I love their head and face patterns; every topological plumage feature is accented with stark contrast and color. Plus, they have an amazing song that's full of sweeping notes, trills, chips, and whistles.

At first glance, the prairie's wildflowers seemed little subdued, but the keen observer will find flowering gems like this Blue Toadflax (below). There was also Birdsfoot Violet, Hoary Puccoon, Cream Wild Indigo, and more. You could spend all day simply appreciating the prairie's unique flora. It changes every couple of weeks, too, so a return trip may yield an entirely different wildflower experience.

Blue Toadflax

Another bird I was hoping to see was the Grasshopper Sparrow. They're a member of the genus ammodramus, which are my favorite sparrows. This particular bird was perched on the west side of the trail, so I didn't have an especially good angle on the late afternoon light. Still, the backlighting gave the sparrow pleasing chestnut color accents that aren't as apparent with direct light. He sang on and off the entire duration of my visit.

Grasshopper Sparrow

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. All the photos are appreciated. Thanks especially for the Lark and Grasshopper Sparrows. Beautiful. Thanks Mike