Newsroom Midwest Region

Capturing the beauty of Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge

June 13, 2018

Common buckeye butterfly. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Common buckeye butterfly. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that national wildlife refuges are wonderful places for nature photography - for visitors and employees. Meet Jessica Bolser, a wildlife biologist based at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Iowa. In addition to studying and monitoring the local wildlife, she uses her keen observation skills to capture some amazing shots. Bolser has taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos at the refuge in recent years. Here are some of her favorites and the stories behind them.

Flocks of geese at sunrise. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Flocks of geese at sunrise. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“There is something about the spring movement of waterfowl along the Mississippi River that makes me feel such a connection to the changing of seasons and awe at the instinct that drives these birds to migrate each year. It is amazing to witness the dawn flight of waterfowl out of the refuge and over the river. This photo shows flocks of geese and a sunrise sky.”

Wood duck brood. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Wood duck brood. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“Wood ducks are the most common species of breeding duck on Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge. I think this photo captures how careful and watchful this hen wood duck was over her young brood of ducklings.”

Roosting monarchs. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Roosting monarchs. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“I was truly fortunate to experience large flocks of migrating monarch butterflies on Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge last fall. It was amazing to see groups of monarchs starting to roost on pin oak leaves in the evening light. The monarchs were very active, and the blurred monarchs in this photo capture that movement.”

Racer snake. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Racer snake. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“I found this snake while doing plant surveys in a wet meadow. I like how this photo highlights the detail in the eyes and face. This snake had such big eyes. Also, I like the detail of the pale blue in the scales.”

Tickseed sunflowers. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
Tickseed sunflowers. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“Tickseed sunflowers are wonderful native plants for wildlife in the floodplain on Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge. The flowers are a valuable nectar source for monarchs and other butterflies and the seeds are consumed by many species, including waterfowl, quail, white-tailed deer and small mammals. It is quite a sight to see a whole yellow field of this late-flowering plant.”

White-tailed deer. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.
White-tailed deer. Photo by Jessica Bolser/USFWS.

“I love the colors in this photo. The rusty reds, blue-grays and browns and how the deer start to fade into the vegetation.”

Learn more about photography at national wildlife refuges and plan your trip to Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge today!

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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