Monday, July 14, 2014

Another day at the desert prairie!

Spring Green Preserve (east)

Though windy, the weather was nice enough to return to Spring Green Preserve on Sunday for wildflower and insect macro photography. I met Mark Johnson there mid-morning. He had already found a Variegated Meadowhawk and got an identifiable photograph of it. We wondered what other new insects or spiders would be discovered during our excursion at the desert prairie. I was hoping for a new species of tiger beetle, treehopper, or jumping spider. There's always something new to see at the preserve.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Though I carried my digiscoping rig along, I didn't take any photographs of birds. There were plenty of singing Field Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Indigo Buntings, and Lark Sparrows, but it was too windy for the birds to perch out in the open. Instead, I kept my eyes focused on the ground for tiny monsters and colorful flowers. Near the kiosk I found Clustered Poppy-mallow, which is one of my favorites of the preserve. Some Prickly Pear Cactuses were still flowering, but they were definitely past peak.

Clustered Poppy-mallow

Tiger Beetles! Punctured were extremely numerous and seemed to be present wherever there was open sand or stretches of soft dirt. There were also a few Big Sand and just one Six-spotted Tiger Beetle, but I've done so well with them this summer I only stopped to photograph one of the punctured. I've observed six of the eight tiger beetle species found at the preserve. I'm not sure what the other two remaining species are or when they're present, perhaps Bronzed and Cow Path.

Punctured Tiger Beetle

American Copper butterflies were also very abundant. They were perching on Fleabane and Hoary Vervain throughout the preserve. They don't often open their wings perfectly flat, so focal depth is an issue when photographing this particular species. There were also quite a few skippers, especially Silver-spotted, but I didn't get any photographs of them.

American Copper

Treehoppers! I love these insects. We found them by checking the oak saplings where we discovered concentrations of treehoppers during our previous visit, but this time they were more scarce. Telamona decorata was new, but there was only one individual.

Treehopper Archasia auriculata

Treehopper Glossonotus univittatus 

Treehopper Telamona decorata

Russula Mushroom

We decided to explore further down the trail that enters the woods. There was a lot of Poison Ivy right along the trail, so I was extra cautious before leaning into the vegetation when photographing. It turned out to be a productive effort because we found a Striped Hairstreak and an awesome Phidippus Jumping Spider. The hairstreak was new for me, but I think I've observed this particular jumping spider species before, but not this particular variation.

Striped Hairstreak

Jumping Spider Phidippus whitmani?

Spring Green Preserve (west)

Late afternoon we checked the west unit at the end of Pearl Road. Mark couldn't stay long because he had to get back to Madison for a work related obligation. I spent some time exploring the crude trail system to places I had never visited before. Actually, this was where I found the Telamona treehopper clinging to a blade of grass. Mark missed it, but there's always the next visit!

American Copper

The colors at Spring Green Preserve are absolutely breathtaking. Though it looks solid green from the road, it's brilliantly multicolored on a smaller scale. A macro lens can render detail and perspective that is easily missed during a casual hike; the careful observer is rewarded. It will be interesting to see how the preserve changes a couple weeks from now.

Dotted Horsemint

British Soldiers Cladonia cristatella

British Soldiers Cladonia cristatella


Goat's Rue

© 2014 Mike McDowell

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