Many of you know that I frequent Sica Hollow state park in northeastern South Dakota as often as I can. I was fortunate that I was able to escape for an afternoon earlier this week!
The park did not fail me. Tons of "spring" green plants, an explosion of blooming flowers, more birds chirping than I ever recall. Lots of dragonflies, but not as many butterflies as I'd like to see yet.
I wasn't even out of the visitor parking area before I saw a flower I didn't recognize. It really stumped all of my efforts to look it up in guidebooks and on the internet.
Thankfully, another photographer in the region, Sarah Reed was able to steer me to the right name. This is the Virginia Waterleaf (hydrophyllum virginianum) and it is, to say the least, very abundant throughout Sica Hollow right now.
The next flower that I ran into shortly after my hike began, is an old favorite from Sica Hollow and other forest parks.
This is the Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and it also is found all over the park. Maybe not quite as much as the Virginia Waterleaf, but certainly not hard to find on this trip.
By sheer luck, as I noticed the Wild Columbine, I happened to spot a flash of yellow. Upon closer inspection, I found a Large Yellow Lady's Slipper. I've seen these before in Minnesota ( for example at Lake Itasca State Park), but I've never seen them in Sica Hollow. What a great surprise this was!
I was also surprised at how many Lady's Slippers I was able to see. I didn't see them everyplace that I found the Wild Columbine, but I never found the Lady's Slippers without the Columbine nearby.
Another new flower to me at Sica Hollow was the next that I found. Probably looks somewhat familiar to most gardeners. This one is the Wild Geranium (Geranium Maculatum). That purple looked great in the dark forest!
When I take photos at Sica Hollow, I am often focused on flowers, butterflies or small things. As I was coming down the trail, the sun was shining so beautifully through the canopy, I thought I should shoot a larger view of the forest.
Can't pass up the opportunity to photograph a butterfly. Or in this case TWO butterflies. Can you see them both?
These are a type of "Blue" butterfly (Lycaenidae/Polymmatinae), but I am not sure exactly which.
Not my best butterfly photo, but getting two in the shot this way was too fun to not share.
This was followed a bit later by one of my favorite butterflies, a Tiger Striped Swallowtail. This individual was a bit more skittish, so sort of hard to capture today.
This Tiger Striped Swallowtail is feeding on a Dames Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) which was also absolutely exploding throughout the entire park. Beautiful.
Fortunately, I did see a few butterflies, but the champion of the forest skies on this trip was the dragonfly. Also, sort of hard to capture today, but this one stayed in one spot long enough for me to grab a quick shot.
As I picked up my camera bag from shooting the dragonfly, I just happened to catch sight of yet another flower I couldn't identify. Thanks again to Sarah Reed who identified this is Prairie Smoke.
As I researched this flower, I learned it gets its name from its wispy seed pods that will appear after it is pollinated.
I'm definitely going to give it my best shot to make it back to Sica Hollow to try to capture an image of that! Hopefully, I'll time it correctly.
Finishing up the day, I spotted some very tiny blooms along the trail. Once I spotted the curly vines and took a closer look at this flower, I knew I was looking at a Wild Pea. Found some purple examples and a white one.
You really have to get close to these to see the beautiful detail.
All in all, one of the best days I had at Sica Hollow in a long time. Hope you enjoyed the photographs!
Feel free to give me a shout if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you!