Monday, June 24, 2013

A morning in June


Sedge Wren

It rained most of Saturday. I went to Pheasant Branch prairie early Sunday morning for a few hours before it got too hot to enjoy. Last year's severe drought is still etched in my memory. I won't soon forget how brown and dry some prairies had gotten by this time last year. So far we've been getting ample rain and it's difficult to recall a time seeing the prairie so lush and green with large patches of penstemon, yarrow, spiderwort, cinquefoil, and coneflowers. I suppose this is how it is during a typical summer, but I'm not taking it for granted. I'm also not taking for granted the spectacular views of Sedge Wrens because it can be several years between localized population fluctuations. For whatever reason they'll be abundant one summer, and then virtually gone for the next two or three. I suspect it might have something to do with the burn schedule, but I'm not certain.


Pale Purple Coneflower


Dickcissel

Have you ever noticed how the bills of the Dickcissel and Eastern Meadowlark feature the same hue blue? Both birds have a neat black bib, too. The rattle call of meadowlarks is sort of similar to a Dickcissel's song, but the similarities end there. While the Dickcissels have just started establishing territories, meadowlarks have already fledged young.


Dickcissel

The meadowlark family tends to stay near the gravel trail that runs up to the parking lot along Pheasant Branch Road. The parents keep a watchful eye on their young from a nearby perch. Whenever anyone ventures too close, one of the adults calls out and the lot of them (five or six birds) fly to the middle of the field for safety.


Eastern Meadowlark


Song Sparrow

Here's a dapper little bird. Song Sparrows are busy tending to nests, but some might have already started on a second brood. Though they've been here since March, their songs are still prominent throughout the prairie and savanna. There were numerous dragonflies present and this Twelve-spotted Skimmer became the first one I photographed through my new macro lens. I'm very pleased with the results I'm getting with it!


Twelve-spotted Skimmer

It was another beautiful morning observing and photographing nature. Birding appeals to my rigid empirical nature as well as providing a brush with the numinous, but in a way that isn't at all connected to our traditional human superstitions: We are the universe experiencing and understanding itself. Even so, I think there are some pretty heady philosophical implications with such a sentiment. Whatever the ultimate source is, being a part of it for a few hours refreshes my spirit like nothing else can.

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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