Late Summer at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Ozaukee County.  The two hours I had available to visit would have been enough to hike all of the trails, but they definitely weren’t enough for a photography trip – I could easily have spent most of the day there pursuing insects, wildflowers, landscapes, and wildlife through my lens.  The trails were impeccably maintained, the other visitors friendly and polite, and, as a bonus, this preserve allows dogs, much to the delight of my four-legged birding buddy, Zeke.  The terrain was a mix of swamp, prairie, deciduous forest, and striking bluffs on the Lake Michigan shoreline, with the trails and boardwalks set right at the ecotones (habitat edges) to maximize wildlife observation.  The fall warbler migration is well underway, and many migrants were visible, including American redstarts, yellow-rumped, pine, and yellow warblers.  Red-winged blackbirds and starlings were beginning to flock up in large numbers, and numerous American goldfinches were hanging upside down from ripening prairie sunflower blooms.  This late in the season, the mosquitos are finally (mostly) gone, but other insects were abundant; I saw at least six species of bee and four species of butterfly, along with countless syrphid flies, dragonflies, and damselflies.  Well worth a second trip!

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