Monday, June 30, 2014

Spring Green Weekend - Part II

Spring Green Preserve (west)

Mark Johnson and I returned to Spring Green Preserve on Sunday and met Glenn Chambliss there. Glenn wanted to see the Blue Grosbeak as it was a life bird for him, as it was for Dottie and Sylvia the previous day. Mark and I had another goal in mind and that was to photograph as many different kinds of insects and spiders as we could find. Glenn came along only for the morning effort and I think he was impressed by the diversity of insects we were able to show him. Mark and I ended up spending the the entire day at the preserve, visiting both the east and west units.

I was also hoping to put my Prairie Fame-flower quest to rest, as it's a wildflower I've been trying to catch open since last year—success this time! During our bug hunt, Mark made an awesome discovery when closely inspecting oak saplings; they're a veritable goldmine for treehoppers! We found three hairstreak species, three tiger beetles, four robber flies and at least four treehopper species. There were also several kinds of dragonflies, but not very many spiders. I took over 600 photographs; it was a difficult process deciding which to publish.

I use to help with identification. When I'm stumped, I'll ask a friend or two for help. From my time in the field to publishing here, keeping this blog supplied with fresh material can be a considerable effort. Once at my computer, there's image selection, post-processing, critter identification, and then coming up with a narrative to put it all together. It's a lot of work, but an absolute labor of love.

Spring Green Preserve (west)

Flower Crab Spider with prey

Treehopper Archasia auriculata

Treehopper Glossonotus univittatus 

Treehopper Archasia belfragei 

Treehopper Smilia camelus

Treehopper Glossonotus univittatus 

Silvery Checkerspot

Coral Hairstreak

Robber fly Efferia aestuans (mating)

Robber fly Proctacanthus hinei 

Robber fly Proctacanthella cacopiliga

Robber fly Efferia albibarbis 

Robber fly Proctacanthus hinei

Mydas Fly Mydas clavatus

Prairie Fame-flower


Prairie Fame-flower

Prairie Fame-flower

Lark Sparrow's nest!

I typically don't photograph bird nests, but this one was too unique not to document and share. My birding cohorts inadvertently flushed a Lark Sparrow from its nest which was only a couple feet away from the trail. We took a quick peak at the eggs, I took a photo, and then waited with my digiscoping rig for the sparrow to return to its eggs. Pretty cool, but do be careful where you walk at Spring Green Preserve. However, I do like how the sparrow built its nest right next to a Prickly Pear.

Lark Sparrow returns!

Other birds included Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager, American Kestrel, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Kingbird, Turkey Vulture, and more!

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell


  1. Great photos, Mike. So excited to hear about the blue Grosbeak! I just thought I would mention (and I am sure you know this and exercise great care) but others might not realize that, in general, it is better not to get too close to a bird nest. Other predators have learned to follow human scents to food and can find the nest and eat the eggs. Not as big a deal in this case but can be in many habitats. Loved all the insect photos, too!

  2. Hi Patricia,

    As I mentioned above, the nest is approximately 2 feet away from the trail. People who have been there recently even recognized it from my photograph. Though Spring Green Preserve isn't exactly what I would consider a high traffic area, there are enough visitors that likely prompts the bird to fly off its nest several times a day. Though I didn't elaborate above, the reason I refrain from photographing nests is partially for the reasons you stated. In general, I do not look for or photograph active nests. ABA's Principles of Birding Ethics states in part: "Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites."