Highly Modified Nature

Yesterday I did some photography along Saylorville Reservoir.  This is a flood-control reservoir on the Des Moines River.


From an ecological standpoint, flood control reservoirs are a really bad idea.  They create environments that are highly modified by man.  Still, there is nature all around if you open your eyes to it.



Viceroys were flying around in high numbers.  Their caterpillar host plants are willows which grow in profusion in the frequently flooded landscape.


This male red-winged blackbird took exception to my presence in his territory, and took to the air to scold and threaten me.


Damselflies and dragonflies were everywhere.  I was looking for a trio of butterflies–bronze coppers could not be found, nor could dainty sulfurs.  Little yellows were present, but I had to look around for them before I found them.  Viceroys, orange sulfurs, and common buckeyes could be found in large numbers.


I especially liked this photo of an eastern amberwing on fleabane.

I walked past the boat loading ramps and had a brief conversation with a fisherman who was leaving before “all the crazies get here.”   I might have been one of the crazies he was talking about.

But I walked along the sand and found a little area that was damp.   There I saw a very tiny blue butterfly.


I was fortunate enough to follow its flight as it darted around.  This is a butterfly I have seen once before, so I was happy that it let me take a number of pictures.7-9-160049

Reakirt’s blue is rarely seen in Iowa.  It is most often found in prairie areas with leadplant, which is its host plant.   I did not see the plant nearby, and I would have been surprised to find it in that habitat.  This area was not where I would have expected to find this butterfly at all.

I have seen this butterfly before, so it is not a “lifer.”  I haven’t seen it in over a decade, though, so it was a really good find.



About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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