Thus far this spring and summer I've made a rewarding effort to spend more time at Spring Green Preserve. It's been a on my bucket list for several years to witness the changing flora of this place. Therefore, on July 12, 2013, I returned to Spring Green Preserve to continue to bear witness to the changing flora at Wisconsin's desert prairie. My primary goal this trip was to reach the top of bluff. This is something that has eluded me for many years. Most visits, I find my time constrained by the hours I spend admiring the birds, insects and flowers along the first half mile or so of the trail. I also came to the prairie with the hope of seeing the rare Fame-flower or adding a new species of tiger beetle to my growing life list.
When I arrived shortly after 10 a.m., the temperature was still relatively mild by Spring Green standards, hovering around the mid 70s and sunny. Complimentary sprays of purple Hoary Vervain and yellow Sand Evening-Primrose greeted me along the path into the preserve. The temperature remained pleasant throughout my 5 1/2 hour visit, although I still felt I was baking as I traveled along the exposed desert prairie landscape.
I deduced later this was Clustered Poppy Mallow which is listed as a "special concern" species for Wisconsin per Black and Judziewicz's Wildflowers of Wisconsin.
|Clustered Poppy Mallow|
|Punctured Tiger Beetle|
|Punctured Tiger Beetle|
As for the robberflies, they appear to be even more skittish, flying away at even the most subtle approach toward them. Fortunately, I lucked out when one was preoccupied long enough with its prey to allow me to get close for some decent photos.
|Efferia albibaris robberfly|
|Sand Wasp, Bembix americana sp|
As I mentioned, I did achieve my goal of getting to the top of the bluff with the side benefit of getting my heart rate up. While I was hoping for a snake encounter, none were seen. If you obey the sign indicating the "Bluff Trail Ends Here," this is your view...
|Common Wood Nymph|
|Six-spotted Tiger Beetles|
(in a compromising position)
The insect orgy continued in the prairie where I spotted these copulating Eastern Tailed-Blue.
|American Copper on Lead-plant|
As for the birds, they too appear to have moved on from nature's drive toward copulation. The Grasshopper, Field and Lark Sparrows continue to be busy carrying mouthfuls of insects to nests at undisclosed locations. Despite our nearing mid July, all three of these sparrow species were singing throughout the late morning and early afternoon. In addition, Dickcissels seem more prevalent than prior visits and were quite vocal as well.
I was glad I decided to take the entire bluff trail because this took me farther east in the prairie where I typically don't venture. It was here I was pleased to find a small patch of the rare Fame-flower. Unfortunately no blooms were open in the early afternoon when I happened upon these plants. Being truly ephemeral, the flowers of this succulent only bloom for one day and only for a few hours in the late afternoon sun...quite an alluring little fact that makes me wish to return and observe this fleeting bloom on another more fortunately timed day.
|Fame-flower's succulent foliage|
Goingfurther to the east I also found Dotted Horsemint and Prairie Tick-trefoil. The latter is a new plant species I've not observed before.