Otter Creek at Baxter's Hollow
A day trip to Baxter's Hollow this time of year almost feels like a visit to the tropics; the gentle and cool morning rain rendered a soothing contrast to the warm and humid air. It was welcomed. Leaves and wildflowers were covered with water droplets. Thankfully, it wasn't a downpour, but I had my rain poncho in my backpack just in case. The dense tree canopy provided some cover from getting soaked. The rain showers didn't dampen the birds' spirits, either; they sang away throughout the morning. Baxter's is an amazing place to observe an incredible array of flora and fauna. Well, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you already know all of this! Enough talk, here are the photos!
Other birds included a variety of warblers: Cerulean, Blackburnian, Canada, Chestnut-sided, Yellow, Louisiana Waterthrush, American Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat. There were also Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos singing off in the distance. See the full list of species at the bottom!
Yellow Lady's Slipper
False Solomon's Seal
An Elegant Crab Spider consumes its prey.
Puddling Giant Swallowtails!
I've witnessed butterfly puddling only a couple of times in my life, and the last time was also at Baxter's Hollow in 2011 with Tiger Swallowtails. This time it was Giant Swallowtails, one of my favorite butterflies. Sandy spots along the trail were holding moisture from the rain earlier in the morning. Once the skies cleared and sunlight returned, over a dozen of these gorgeous butterflies were attracted to the wet ground; they use their proboscis to extract nutrients that play various roles in their physiology, ethology, and ecology.
During spring and summer, there are a billion journeys in the Baraboo Hills each day and this snail (below) has one of the slowest paces of them all. As Dottie Johnson says, "There's always at least one really cool thing that happens every time we come to Baxter's Hollow." Today it was definitely the Giant Swallowtails, but the Cerulean Warbler was a close second. Now that it's June, I probably won't return to Baxter's Hollow until next spring. The mosquitoes and biting flies weren't too bad today, but it can get pretty intolerable. I'll be returning to the prairies throughout the remainder of June, but maybe there's one more trip to Baxter's left!
White-lip Globelet (I think)
Baxter's Hollow SNA, Sauk, US-WI
Jun 1, 2014 7:45 AM - 11:00 AM
Great Crested Flycatcher
All images © 2014 Mike McDowell