Just one county south, and I never go anywhere down there. Thanks to Dave Enterline, a former colleague for showing me 150 acres he keeps in the Rural Preserve Program (different from CRP). We wandered from creek side habitats to bottomland forest, oak-hickory uplands, ponds, vernal pools, pine plantings, and open fields. Here are just a few things I observed.
Sitting in an open field was this Ladies Tress Orchid. These can be difficult to get to species. Notice how the flowers twist up the stem like a candy cane or barber pole. Knowing how many rows of twisting flowers you have is the first thing to look for. This has a SINGLE row of flowers, which eliminates half the species immediately. Seems a little wasp was as curious as I was.
Next look at size, blooming period, habitat, and whether or not it has leaves at blooming time. This one did have lots of long narrow leaves, both on the stem and basally. There are a number of keys to this group, some more tolerable than others, none of which promise an easy outcome.
No matter how often you get out, or how long you spend in the woods, photography is still based on one important factor, luck! While exploring a field, this guy just happened to land in front of me. This is the Giant Robber Fly, Promachus rufipes. Sometimes called the red-footed or red-legged robber, it's the largest in our area.
By mid afternoon, with Dave and I drenched in sweat, it wasn't long before the butterflies started landing on us. Of particular note was this snout butterfly.