Tuesday, June 30

Seeing Red

The twinflower is a pip to get a photo of; they're tiny flowers, from the honeysuckle family. They're growing on the mossy rocks in the shade along Roughlock Trail.

It's always exciting to see one of the orchids in the Black Hills! This is the striped coralroot, also seen along Roughlock Trail Sun. There's also a spotted coralroot, which has white spots instead of the stripes.

The cutleaf anemone is from the buttercup family. It runs from white to a deep pink-purple, which I've only seen one of, last year. (See May 30th post.)

Monday, June 29

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Today is my oldest sis's birthday ~ Happy 55th, A.! Here's some sweet little posies just for you, what else but true forget-me-nots! Love you and miss you...
Sending hugs across the ocean... J.

Sunday, June 28

Roughlock Trail and Falls

Friend Jayne and I headed out bright and early this morning for a visit to Roughlock Falls. That means a drive through scenic Spearfish Canyon, N Black Hills, turning into Little Spearfish Canyon and walking the mile-long Roughlock Trail that winds through the woods and along a small, narrow band of wetlands. The first photo, above, is of 'Ruby Vee" in Spearfish Canyon.

We took a short detour off the trail to the water's edge, and I spotted movement...it was a female mallard and her four chicks. They were too far away to get a better shot.

A little chipmunk was nibbling on some tidbit in the woods along Roughlock Trail. My 2nd opportunity to photog. a 'munk. They're just too cute.

I'm still trying to get a great shot of Roughlock Falls with the water streaming affect. With part of the falls in shade, part in sun, it didn't happen today. But it was so nice to see the gorgeous falls again, and to see the area so green and lush. There is also a lower part to the falls, a secondary fall that is wide and shallow.

Saturday, June 27

A Special Thank You

An English rose from my garden goes to Tucker, Warren, Tina, Jeannelle, and Aspen for your recent comments posted...I appreciate your stopping by and dropping a line!

Unusual Sightings

At a distance, in the midst of a large, grassy green field in Custer Park on Tues., I saw a small brown cluster. At first I wasn't sure if it was a rock but the rock moved. I took photos...got home and cropped the "things" and discovered it was two young prong-horn antelope calves! (I had to look up what antelope babes are called. I never would've guessed they're calves!) I've never seen them before. Where was ma?!
Almost as rare a sight, for me, at Custer Park is a white-tail buck. This guy let me take a few photos from a safe distance..one of the nearby does freaked out, spooking the other deer around her.

Friday, June 26

Moths and Dragonflies

This pretty white moth is a Virginian tiger moth! I didn't think I'd be able to look it up online due to the huge number of moth families, but I found a useful site...it was just standing on the paved walk in front of a convenience store at a gas station off Hwy. 79, where I sometimes stop for a morning snack on my outings. I hope it flew away and didn't get stomped on!

I found some pretty bugs at Cascade Falls Tues. This pretty red-orange (actual name) dragonfly seemed to be holding on for dear life to this dead plant stem, what with a good breeze blowing it around.

I had a hard time getting a shot of this white spotted sable moth .. as it was in a real leafy red osier dogwood shrub and didn't stay still for long.

This twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly was harassing the red-orange one, causing it to leave and stealing its post.

Thursday, June 25

Rarest Orchid, Sego Lily, Rare White Thistle

I've waited a year to get back to Cascade Falls when this rare orchid, the giant helleborine, is blooming. In the Black Hills, C. Falls is the only place it blooms and fortunately I found the spot where it hides. It's very hard to see and easily overlooked among all the other plant life along the creek there. I got better photos this year than last!

I found the sego lily around Wind Cave Tues...there is also a Gunnison's mariposa lily, similar except the center looks different. The M. lily is a lot easier to find. Some botany books refer to them as the same lily, but my Botany Bible seperates them as two different lilies.

The wavyleaf thistle is normally purple; the white color is rare. I found a couple white ones on hwy. 71 on my way to Cascade Falls Tues., at the south end of the Black Hills. The only other place I've seen a white thistle is at Sylvan Lake.

Wednesday, June 24

Birds with Yellow

I about fainted when I saw this bird, near Angostura Reservoir in the far-south-eastern corner of the Black Hills yesterday. I knew it was a cedar waxwing, my first sighting and one that I really wanted to see. I actually held my breath and got out of the car, walking under the tree it was perched in to get the sun in a better position. It's a good thing I did, as my photos before I moved didn't come out as well.

This pretty bird moved closer so I could get better shots...I've managed to find it online, a yellow-breasted chat. It was one of many birds I heard singing at Cascade Springs/Keith Park Tues., in the far southern part of the Black Hills. The park has many different trees and a small creek running through, a bird paradise.

Well the beak is yellow! Why is it that the most common birds, easily found, are also the easiest to get a decent photo of? Geesh. Ok, robins are birds too but not very exciting.

I also found a yellow warbler in the little bird paradise of Cascade Springs. I must've heard over a dozen different songs there, exciting and exasperating at the same time, since I'm sure I didn't see most of what I heard.

Monday, June 22

Crested Pricklypoppy and Scarlet Globemallow

The crested pricklypoppy has petals that look like crinkled tissuepaper, and the petals are up to 2" long each...very pretty, showy white wildflower. I saw a few in bloom during my last commune with nature, last week. It's always exciting to see them again.The scarlet globemallow was also in bloom, in Custer Park, when I last visited. It's one of only two orange wildflowers in the Black Hills; the other is the wood (tiger) lily, which is darker. So, any orange wildflower really stands out. I'm seeing much larger, healthier clusters of the globemallow this year, no doubt thanks to all the winter snow/spring rain.

Sunday, June 21

Moths and Butterflies

I see other bloggers posting butterfly shots..I've found some too I want to share...

These two pretty giant silkworm moths were on this post in my neighbor's side yard yesterday. My husband hollared to get the camera and come see. They didn't open their wings unfortunately. The neighbor had seen them the night before, wings open. I looked last night, no change. They were gone this morning.

This Weidemeyer's Admiral landed on my tire right after I'd stopped and opened the door to get out of the car...I didn't get a chance to get a better shot. These are common in the Black Hills.

Ok, I'm left-handed and this Common Blue moth landed on the left hand...I couldn't get a focused shot with my awkward right hand...anyway, it sat there for a good 2-3 minutes at least. I don't know why, but I felt loved anyway.

I got this more decent shot of this moth a few days later. Too bad it's standing on a dead dandelion! These are common, too.

Saturday, June 20

Dust Buffies

Well, you've heard of dust bunnies, right? It's a fairly common sight at Custer Park, when encountering any bison...the dust bath, or wallow. Why do they do this? Wikipedia says this: "Past explanations and current hypotheses suggested for wallowing behavior include grooming behavior associated with shedding, male-male interaction (typically rutting behavior), social behavior for group cohesion, play behavior, relief from skin irritation due to biting insects, reduction of ectoparasite (tick and lice) load, and thermoregulation."

This bison decided to wallow right after I stopped to take photos on Wed. in Custer Park.

I took this photo in Custer Park on May 2nd, the day friend Jayne and I witnessed a large herd of buffalo (bison) running in a long line, calves included...no idea why they were running but it was awesome to see. This buff stopped for a dust bath when the run became a walk.
To clarify..the proper name of this animal is bison. They were labeled "buffalo" when the early settlers first saw them, as they resembled water buffalo. As you can see, I use both terms. I'm torn between the proper name and the more common name.

Friday, June 19

Tree Swallow, Spotted Towhee, Eastern Kingbird

Wed. at Custer Park, I found someone home in one of the many birdhouses attached to the fenceline at the buffalo round-up (an annual event) corrals. This tree swallow left while I watched him the first time, then he was home again in apt. 21 when I came back.

I took one of the dirt county roads out of the park, and found this spotted towhee singing in a tree...another towhee was somewhere nearby answering. My first sighting of the towhee.

The second new bird I found Wed. on the county road was the Eastern kingbird! Score!

Thursday, June 18

Some Clovers

After I picked Ruby up from the Honda shop, cameras in hand, I headed south for "the park." I had a nice outing, got many nice photos of flora, feathers, and fur...will eke them out on my blog a day at a time, starting w/ the clover... the yellow sweetclover is always abundant, but is extremely abundant this year due to all the snow and/or rain we've had...clovers are from the legume family.

The red clover looks pink with the yellow sweetclover as a background.

The alsike clover looks like white clover, esp. at a distance, but up close you see it has a tinge of red.

I'll say it again...every time I go through Custer State Park, I see something new. Me and a few other drivers stopped and watched as a male prong-horn antelope came running from a distance towards another male antelope close to the road, trying to chase him away. The chase crossed the road to the other side right in front of me. Some guys are so territorial. Notice all that sweetclover in the background. It's everywhere.

Wednesday, June 17

Starling, Mt. Bluebird, Turkey Vulture

Since I can't get out to hunt photo ops, I'll share more photos from the 11th, the rainy day I went to Custer Park...

This European starling didn't want to pose, but I thought this was a kinda neat shot of it flying off, esp. the cute curled "toes".
This male Mt. bluebird's color is paler than I've seen; is it because he isn't fully mature? Or maybe just a variation.

This female Mt. bluebird, like the male, was on the fenceline in the wildlife loop at Custer Park, a good bird-watching spot.

The turkey vulture is u-ugly...a face only its mama could love...how about two of 'em?

Tuesday, June 16

Ruby Vee is Under the Weather!

I don't have a photo of my poor baby at the Honda hospital, not that I'd want one. So here she is near the rock spires on Needles Hwy in Custer Park in April...tonight she's getting minor fixes and will be home tomorrow morning. Am I the only one who becomes so attached to her vehicle? I mean, where would I be w/o her? She has taken me faithfully and w/o complaint on many bumpy, unpaved roads the two years we've been together.

Blue Flax

I thought I'd posted this photo...seems I hit the "draft" button. I was happy to get a decent shot of the flax after two years without success. The way they jump around in the breeze -- and do we have breezes in South Dakota -- and as you can see, the way light bounces off them at several angles...well, let's just say, it's a challenge. I took this photo just east of Custer Park about two weeks ago.

Saturday, June 13

First, the Wildflowers: Honeysuckle, Arnica and More

When I hit the road, a lot of the time I'll take little detours just because...this morning I went partway down the 5 mile side road to Silver City, stopping at a wayside park in a gulch to look around. I discovered one Tatarian honeysuckle shrub, my first sighting. It's an escaped cultivated flower.

I found more blue columbine today, in the same area off the road through Vanocker Canyon as I found my birds (below).

The meadow sage is another escaped cultivated flower, and another on my to-find list! It's from the mint family, the only of several mints in the Black Hills that I had not found yet. There was a whole bunch of it growing along someone's dirt road in N Vanocker Canyon.

I'd given up on finding the heartleaf arnica where I saw just two or three last year...they're only occasional, not abundant by any means. I found a handful in a spot on a county road out of Vanocker Canyon when I stopped to look at something else.

Aww look, the ox-eye daisy is blooming! So far this year, Vanocker Canyon is the only place I've seen the daisy, at the north end.

Pewee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-naped Sapsucker

I'm not totally certain, but I think this is a Western wood-pewee, of the flycatcher species. My "Watchable Birds..." book says they like to perch on dead branches of forest clearings, and that's where I saw this one, and others today.
So, I was putzing around this one spot in Vanocker Canyon today, at the turn-off for an unmarked dirt road...I'd seen pretty birds in this area last year but didn't get any photos, so was back again with high hopes. I saw this black-headed grosbeak eventually. No great shots today but that's just the way it goes in this bird business.

Eventually, two red-naped sapsuckers (woodpeckers) came along, seemingly sparring with one another, perhaps over territory? Both were males...