28 April 2013

Curlew season

Pelican in flight, Quinn Dam

At the end of March, we were looking at the beginning of spring, buds on the trees, no need for snow boots, etc.

At the end of April, we have dug out from a cumulative 40 inches of snow. The buds are just now beginning to re-show. The migratory birds, slowed by the repeated storm, are starting to come through at last. So we headed east to Wall and Badlands to check out the spring action. Enjoy.

Pelican gliding

Meadowlark, Quinn

Meadowlark posing, Quinn

Grain elevator, Quinn

Cottonwood and snow wisps

I-90 concretia

Loggerhead shrike seeking next victim

Tree swallow pretending to be a bluebird

Prairie dogs. I have no explanation for the one at the back right. 

Spring. Finally. 

None shall pass. 

Bison bull looking good after the winter

I said, none shall pass. 

Two bison above Sage Creek


Only in South Dakota. I am kind of sorry I missed this. 

Curlew in the grass, looking for..
...the other curlew in the grass. Their calls are hauntingly beautiful. 


Resplendent curlew

The plumage patterns showed up better in black and white

Curlews in spring

Curlews in barbed-wire frame

Looking at us

Preening and resting after a long migration

Railroad trestle, Wasta

Railroad trestle, Wasta

Ghost cottonwoods, Wasta

What part of "none shall pass" do you not understand? 

House, Base Line Road

Pronghorn in sunlight

Buildings, Owanka

Buildings, Owanka

Grain elevator, Owanka

Town greeter, Owanka

Truck, Owanka

House, Base Line Road

Great blue heron


House, Wasta

30 March 2013

Spring still life with sleet storm

Cottonwood, Kiplinger Road

On a whim, we left at 5:30 a.m. to chase sage grouse on the high plains. Note: if your whims routinely drag you out at that hour on a Saturday, you either have very peculiar whims, or else have stumbled into the world of birding. Those are not necessarily contradictory. We are at the edge of Greater Sage Grouse territory and have to travel a bit to see this spring display up on the higher plains where there is...wait for it...sage.

Sage grouse are normally seem as specks in the distance, and this year was no exception. What was exceptional was the closeness of the lekking we saw last year. Rather than post a picture of an animated speck, I'll refer you to this post. We were close enough to see and here the male go through the booming and strutting motions, but not nearly as close this year.

We think it's spring, but the appearance of a storm with rain, snow and sleet mid-day has us questioning that. The birds seem to have no questions.

Paired geese

Barbed wire still life

Sign, Kiplinger Road

Post office historical marker. We found three of these today. 

First sign of the storm

A tiny monument north of Belle Fourche. It was worth going 15 miles out of the way to see. 

Just in case you had any doubts. 

Bear Butte as the clouds begin to form

Minuteman missile silo still life

Permission to trespass? 

Truck memories

Sign, Orman Dam



Bear Butte as the storm builds

Storm front on the plains

Immature bald eagle, trying hard for the white head

The point at which the trip was effectively over

Bear Butte eternal