Monday, July 31, 2017


Pheasant Branch Conservancy

I finally felt well enough to get back into the field on Sunday. Still below full strength, I kept it simple and easy, sticking to a few places near home. It had been over a month since my last birding excursion at Pheasant Branch conservancy, but I wasn't very thorough during this late July outing and didn't even bother to eBird my observations. While the prairie parcel had more noticeable avian activity, the creek corridor was a better place for insect photography; sitting, kneeling, and leaning was more my pace for the day, anyway.

Gray Catbird

While scanning cup plant stalks, I came across my first Buffalo Treehopper of the summer season. I didn't have a clear angle on it, but managed to find a small window below a leaf for a portrait. I also searched for Red-banded Leafhopper, but found only Citrus flatid Planthoppers, which were fairly numerous throughout the creek corridor. I found just one Peacock Fly at the first bridge crossing.

Buffalo Treehopper

Citrus flatid Planthopper

Citrus flatid Planthopper

Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus

A highlight of the day was discovering a tiny robber fly species I've never encountered before. At only 8mm in length, I could have easily overlooked these little gnat ogres, as they are sometimes called. There were probably half a dozen of them, but I didn't see any holding prey. Still, what an awesome little monster!

Robber Fly Holcocephala abdominalis

Robber Fly Holcocephala abdominalis

Sylvia knew of a spot not far from Middleton where we might find Juniper Hairstreak butterflies. Having never seen the species, I thought they would make stunning blog subjects. Nectaring on Queen Anne's Lace Daucus carota, the little green and orange butterflies were very cooperative insect subjects.

Juniper Hairstreak Callophrys gryneus

And a couple more tiger beetle portraits from earlier in July ...

Punctured Tiger Beetle

Big Sand Tiger Beetle

Bring on August!

All images © 2017 Mike McDowell


  1. I especially love the insect photos :)

  2. Thanks Jo! I hate to say it, but I enjoy taking the insect photos more than the bird ones! :)


  3. Getting photos of things you can't readily see... finding those subjects at all... being able to wait them out and actually capture their images before they skitter away... having a steady hand and the right focus at such magnification. Very much an art and a challenge you excel at.