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Why I Took These Shots

Information iconThis shot of a female eastern amberwing, a common dragonfly on Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, was taken by refuge biologist Jessica Bolser. What she loves about this shot β€œis the delicate detail on the wing and the tiny hairs on the legs.”

National wildlife refuges are wonderful places for nature photography – for visitors and employees.

Jessica Bolser
(Photo: Sally Jack/USFWS)

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 why she took them.



Sunrise Geese Port Louisa Refuge, IA
Sunrise Geese 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  Port Louisa Refuge, IA
Wood Duck Brood 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.”
Monarch butterflies  Port Louisa Refuge, IA
Fall-Roosting Monarchs 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  Port Louisa Refuge, IA
Racer 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.”
Bidens  Port Louisa Refuge, IA
Bidens by Jessica Bolser/USFWS
“Tickseed sunflower (Bidens) is a wonderful native plant 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.”
Fall deer  Port Louisa Refuge, IA
White-tailed Deer 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.”

More about photography at national wildlife refuges.

Compiled by Bill O'Brian@fws.gov    | June 13, 2018
Information iconFall-Roosting Monarchs by Jessica Bolser/USFWS