― Rainer Maria Rilke
Prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy
Rain during the night rendered an extremely muggy morning at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy; I was completely drenched in sweat after an hour of hiking. Though I always try to keep it light, hauling all my gear around was drudgery. Sure, conditions were a little uncomfortable, but it was still time spent wisely with Nature ... as is always the case.
I was pleased that a Dickcissel finally arrived at the prairie. I also heard a single Sedge Wren near the second retention pond. It will be interesting to observe these two species during the month of July. Though I'm less certain about the Dickcissel population this summer, I suspect more Sedge Wrens will occupy the prairie very soon.
A female Orchard Oriole was carrying food to young atop the drumlin trail; I took a quick portrait of her and moved on. There was quite a bit of birdsong throughout the oaks. The mid-morning choir consisted of Indigo Buntings, Field Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Willow Flycatchers, and both orioles.
After completing my birding route, I took out my macro lens and decided to make Common Milkweed flowers my primary subject. Testament to Rilke's sentiment, closer inspection of the small can genuinely reveal unfamiliar and exciting shapes and colors.
Common Milkweed with ants.
Naturally, when you're closely inspecting particular plants and wildflowers, you'll eventually come across the insects that use them. Though I found lots of Red Milkweed Beetles, I didn't find a single Monarch Butterfly caterpillar or egg. There were sulphurs, hairstreaks, fritillaries, and swallowtails today, but no Monarchs.
Hey ... what's happening to the Monarchs?
Red Milkweed Beetle
I also found a few Dogbane Leaf Beetles. Last year I caught them actively feeding, but these particular ones were relatively motionless. A beetle here or there would come up to another one, but nothing came of it. One might change leaves, but then remain still for long time. Fortunately for me, this made photographing them a lot easier. Of course, just about any insect is a snap compared to tiger beetles and robber flies.
Dogbane Leaf Beetle
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jun 26, 2016 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Great Blue Heron