Flowers and Little Monsters!

"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story."

― Linda Hogan
Yeah, it's those northwest winds keeping most migratory birds to our south. I did find an Orange-crowned Warbler on Friday, but there were no other detectable new arrivals at the Pheasant Branch Creek Corridor over the weekend. Even when birding is somewhat slow, hearing a Carolina Wren is always something of a treat. Which version of his song will we be serenaded with? Pah-tweep, pah-tweep, pah-tweep or perhaps something more traditional and urgent about tea kettles? 
How about Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills? Just a single Louisiana Waterthrush and Winter Wren. Well, there were a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and a couple of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. But Nature's charms don't always have feathers ― more spring ephemerals were in bloom, like these Marsh Marigolds: 
They were as beautiful as I've ever seen them.
Here's the sneaky waterthrush! You can't (you shouldn't) go by the tail-bob motion to separate Northern and Louisiana. Oh, I have heard it a hundred times how NOWA goes up and down only, and LOWA gyrates its tail in a semi-circular fashion. Point is, you can have some really enthusiastic NOWAs and some rather subdued LOWAs. Naturally, the song is diagnostic if the bird sings and you know the song (learn the songs). However, one should rather build a case for LOWA: clear or relatively clear pale throat, an elongated supercilium, diffuse flanks, pink legs, and a short tail projection. Of course, they are also earlier arrivals into southern Wisconsin, sometimes showing up near the end of March. Thus, phenological timing is also a cue. 
Looking for some morsels in the moss ...
Uh, this plot of moss is taken!
Baxter's Hollow maybe be one of the best places to seek spring wildflowers. When I was there on Saturday, in some places Yellow Trout Lilies carpeted the large areas of the forest floor. I suppose I could have photographed it, but my thought at the time was that I couldn't quite capture the mood of the scene in such a comparatively small frame. Plus, I really liked how this one turned out and thought it good enough:
Spring Beauty in bunches...
Or just a pair ...
Where else? I hadn't been to Nine Springs in a long time, but it used to be one of my regular spring birding haunts. I have some fond memories of it ― Red Knot, Marbled and Hudsonian Godwits, Black-necked Stilts, Willets, and much more. I'm not quite as fanatical about shorebirds as I once was, but I'll photograph most any bird if it's within range. First of year birds here included Rusty Blackbird, American White Pelican, Great Egret, Sora, and this Greater Yellowlegs:
And then the highlight of my weekend ...
Back to Spring Green Preserve!
I felt like going to a long hike up the bluff to visit the Splendid Tiger Beetles once again. Scattered throughout the greening prairie plants and grasses were Birdsfoot Violets and Prairie Buttercup. The crisped remnants of Prickly Pear Cactus were folded over, but new ones will soon emerge. I was a bit disappointed to see a number of people brought their dogs to the prairie. The entrance has three different signs prohibiting dogs ― such entitlement and disregard for the prairie's unique flora and fauna. One pet owner even allowed his dog to run off-leash. 
Along the way there would be many Festive Tiger Beetles ...
And this one is eating some unfortunate smaller insect:
And a few more Oblique-lined Tiger Beetles were active compared to a few weeks ago:
And then at the top of the bluff!
Ah, yes ― Splendid Splendids ...
Don't they kick-ass? Ahem ...

Alas, I shall leave you for this week with a flower ― Lyre-leaved Rock Cress:
All images © 2021 Mike McDowell