Sunday, August 14, 2016

Spring Green Preserve 7August2016

It's been one week since I visited Spring Green Preserve. The task of photo editing has fallen to the wayside... BUT I resolve not to allow another series of photos lay to waste in the digital darkness of my home drive!

Monarda punctata
Spring Green Preserve, I had not been there all of July. It was time to visit. I was badly in need of a good cardio workout climbing to the top of the bluff not to mention there are always some interesting critters and plants to see along the way. I also figured I had a shot at seeing a Blue Grosbeak since they've been reported breeding here this summer. So I packed my carryout lunch from the Spring Green General Store and was off. My plan was lunch at the top.

Three to four hours later, beyond the robberflies, Punctured Tiger Beetles and Blue Grosbeak, I finally reached the top of the bluff where I ate a very late lunch. That's just how it goes when you visit this place. There's lots of the whimsical distractions to investigate en route to the bluff top.

The desert was predominantly blooming with Monarda punctata (aka. Spotted beebalm, Spotted horsemint) and what I believe was False Sunflower (it's hard to feel compelled to photograph flowers that are my least favorite color, yellow) though I can't be certain since I didn't investigate the plants.

Monarda punctata
On the insect front, Punctured Tiger Beetles (Cicindela punctulata) were numerous along the entire prairie trail. Punctata and brain paired these similar terms wondering if the "Puncs" often peak together.

Punctured Tiger Beetle (Cicindela punctulata)

Eastern Tailed-blues were also present.

Eastern Tailed-blue (female) Butterfly
A jumping spider made an appearance too.

Whorled milkweed, Hoary Vervain and Prairie Tick-trefoil were still blooming. The latter two were past their peak.Having not been out in the right habitat this summer, the tick trefoil was the first I'd seen this year.

Prairie Tick-trefoil
Hoary Vervain
At the eastern edge of the prairie the Blue Grosbeak was easily detected.

Blue Grosbeak in challenging light (I could not get the colors correct!)
Proctacanthella cacopiliga robberflies were more numerous than any of large robberflies I've encountered before at Spring Green or really anywhere. At least 10-12 individuals easily flushed from the trail.

Proctacanthella cacopiliga with prey
Several were mating, including three engaged in an apparent ménage à trois. At first glance the three motionless flies had me thinking they were dead. I examined them more closely concluding they must be mating. But they remained so lifeless I went back to thinking they were dead and wondering what could have caused their demise. However, upon motioning toward them with a stick, I was startled by their explosive buzzing departure. I witnessed further equally explosive behavior by this species. I observed a male aggressively knock an in-flight female to the ground to copulate. It struck me as being a rather violent way to mate. Enter Jane's Addition's Ted, Just Admit It as the soundtrack for this part of my walk..."Sex is violent..."

Robberfly ménage à trois, Who knew?
Five o'clock must have been the insect mating hour. The Punctured Tiger Beetles were also engaged in making connections too!

Mating Punctured Tiger Beetles
I did not anticipate being out in the prairie so late in the day. But five and a half  hours later, there I was and so were the blooming Prairie Fame-flowers, a mystical succulent-appearing plant known for exhibiting its bloom in the last few hours of the day.

Each bloom lasts just for one day...And that was the tune I had in my head as I headed home from another glorious day in the desert prairie..."we can be heroes, just for one day..."

Prairie Fame-flower