Sunday, June 24, 2018

I wasn't expecting that!

"We need the tonic of wildness―to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature."

― Henry David Thoreau

"The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs."

― Wally Lamb

Punctured Tiger Beetle Cicindelidia punctulata

The discovery of a cool thing is one of the best rewards the naturalist can experience. Even citizen scientists can make important discoveries and contributions. This time it came in the form of an insect I was not expecting to find where I was headed.

After a full day of fun hanging out at Winnequah yesterday with a couple of my colleagues, I made one final stop at a sandlot near the Sauk City Canoe Launch for Punctured Tiger Beetles before heading home. I've found them at this location past summers and decided to try and get some good portraits of them for my blog. I had no trouble locating the beetles as well as good numbers of Big Sand Tiger Beetles. I could hear songs of Dickcissels, Savannah Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, and Indigo Buntings as I photographed.

And then it happened ...

Ghost Tiger Beetle Ellipsoptera lepida

Just after photographing a few wildflowers, something moving across the sand caught my eye. At first I thought it was just a bit of fluff blowing over the sand, but when it stopped I couldn't believe my good fortune: GHOST TIGER BEETLE! This is the furthest south I've observed this particular tiger beetle species. Longtime readers of my blog know that in the past I've photographed them near Buena Vista Grasslands, which is nearly a two-hour drive from my apartment. But these ones were only 20 minutes away from home―hot dang! I hope they're around in the years to come, but I have a feeling this particular sandlot is eventually going to become a housing subdivision.

While photographing the Ghost, I spotted two more scurrying by … and then another, and yet another! While I didn't cover the entire parcel, there were at least a dozen of the desert camouflaged insects patrolling my part of the sandlot. Super fun!

Delaware Skipper Anatrytone logan

Spring Green Preserve

This morning I co-led a field trip at Spring Green Preserve for The Nature Conservancy. John Harrington was our plant specialist while I took care of identifying birds and insects. We found a variety of grassland birds for the twenty or so participants. Birds we found included Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, and savannah species like Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Brown Trasher, and Eastern Towhee. You can see all the species in the eBird checklist at the bottom of this post. For tiger beetles there were Big Sand, Punctured, Festive, and Six-spotted. Other insects included Dung Beetles, Velvet Ants, and a variety of robber flies. Hoary Vervain, Goat's Rue, St. John's Wort, and Prickly-pear were in bloom. I found a few Prairie Flame Flower plants, but it was the wrong time of day to see them open!

Prickly-pear Cactus Opuntia humifusa

Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus

Festive Tiger Beetle Cicindela scutellaris

Spring Green Preserve--East, Sauk, Wisconsin, US
Jun 24, 2018 8:30 AM - 12:15 PM
41 species

Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Blue-winged Warbler
Grasshopper Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

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