It has been a strange year on the farm for Monarch Butterflies. It was mid July before I saw the first one. I’ve only seen a few since. I’ve only found one Monarch Caterpillar so far this year. Last year I was overrun with Monarchs and Monarch Caterpillars.
Monarch Butterfly and goldenrod
When we arrived in Sioux Falls it was very windy and cold so we decided to drive down to Sertoma Park and visit the Butterfly house. We were lucky that we were the only ones in the butterfly house for quite a while.
I had been noticing quite a few Monarch Butterflies out in the prairie so I went looking for caterpillars. I found three of them late in the day. They didn’t seem to be moving much and appeared to have found a place to rest for the evening.
We have visited Sioux Falls S.D. a number of times but never visited the Sertoma Butterfly House. I had it on my list for this trip. It was a great place to spent a couple of hours photographing butterflies.
They also have some Button Quail running around. You had to watch your step because they were always underfoot. It turns out they have an important role to play. Apparently they eat the ants who prey on the butterflies.
In the past few weeks I’ve found a variety of butterflies around the farm. About the only flower blooming right not is the Daisy Fleabane.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a stroll through the prairie on my farm. I had my macro lens on and thought I might be able to get some shots of the insects feeding on the last of the summer flowers. As I approached a large patch of Daisy Fleabane I noticed it was covered with bees so I started taking photographs of them. I then noticed that there was a Monarch Butterfly feeding on the Fleabane. Then I saw another Monarch and soon I noticed there was a half dozen of them. I was afraid I would disturb them trying to photograph them with my macro lens so I went back into the house and switched to my 200-500mm birding lens. I spent several hours in the afternoon photographing the Monarchs. This was the most monarchs I have seen in several years.
I made a trip out to Hoffman Hills Recreation Area to check on the flowers. There were a lot of wild flowers in bloom in the prairie area.
More photos from Hoffman Hills can be found on my website.
Showy Tick Trefoil
There were also a variety of insects enjoying the flowers.
Rose Chafer Beetles
I drove up to Crex Meadows a few weeks ago on an overnight road trip. It had been raining for weeks and we finally got some clear weather so I took advantage of it. When I arrived there were beautiful fluffy clouds over the Meadows. I drove around Crex for a while but there was not a lot happening. Most of the birds were taking a mid day nap and it was too windy to photograph the flowers.
I did find a large number of Hairstreaks feeding on Butterfly Plants and was able to get a few shots before heading back to Grantsburg for dinner.
I drove back out to Crex after dinner and found some young Pied-billed Grebes right along shore on Phantom Lake. I watched them for quite a while. The light was good late in the day for photographing them.
I decided to photograph the sunset from the south end of Phantom Lake. I was disappointed that it wasn’t a better sunset given all of the clouds earlier in the day.
The next morning I was up to capture some dawn photographs. My wife wasn’t along on this trip so I didn’t feel guilty about getting up around 4am. I stopped for some coffee and then drove out to Phantom lake to await for dawn. It was a beautiful dawn.
About an hour later the sun came up. There were not many clouds but there was a bit of ground fog on Phantom lake that made for some interesting shots.
After sunrise I spent quite a bit of time watching the Pied-billed Grebes feeding their young along the western edge of Phantom Lake. Unfortunately they were backlit so it was not a good time for pictures. This adult Grebe was feeding two fledglings. The one fledgling seemed to be getting all of the food. It would bide it’s time until the adult would surface with some food then dash to the adult so it would get the food. Finally the adult got fed up and dunked the fledgling and then chased it down the lake. I never saw it again. The remaining fledgling they got all of the food.
There were a few Sandhill Cranes around. I photographed these in the fields at the north end of the Meadows. I did see one pair of adults with a colt but didn’t get any photographs.
It was well after sunrise and it was still relatively calm out. Normally I have trouble photographing flowers and small objects because the wind is usually blowing at a good clip. I photographed this Northern Bluet Damselfly along Phantom Lake.
I then started driving around Crex looking for flower photographs. This is a great time to photograph the wildflowers at Crex. The visitors center sells a nice book identifying the flowers found in the Grantsburg area
We spent part of one morning looking for the rare Karner Blue butterfly which is fairly common in Crex Meadows. In about an hour of searching we only saw a couple. It was difficult photographing them because they are about the size of a dime and the wind was blowing. The Karner Blue Butterflies should be around through July.
I recently donated one of my photos of a Monarch Caterpillar to a non-profit organization so they could include it in their Guide d’identification et de gestion des pollinisateurs et des plantes melliferes.