Monday, August 31

Nature's Reds

My friend Jayne and I took a pleasant late-summer drive along part of Spearfish Canyon yesterday. We checked out the loop trail at Spearfish Falls, so that she could finally see that falls for the first time, as I had done w/ the huzb two weeks earlier. We also looked around at the park area above Roughlock Falls...

We were pretty excited to find this lone columbine growing along the trail to Spearfish Falls, but it turns out it's not the hard-to-find wild columbine, which is a buttery pale yellow and pink. This is a garden-variety columbine that somehow found its way into the woods.

Common burdock is a funky-looking plant...looks like clusters of small stunted thistles. From the aster family. It was growing along the trail to Spearfish Falls.

Jayne pointed out this red squirrel as it scurried up a tree. She found a little cache of tender little pinecones in a freshly-dug hole in the ground, where the squirrel had first been when we came along. Another sign of the changing seasons.

The fairybell fruit is either yellow (see Aug. 16 post) or red, like this one. Fairybell wildflowers are of the lily family. We saw the red ones along the trail to Spearfish Falls.

The chokecherries are ripening...this red will become a deep purple as the berries reach maturity. Chokecherries grow all over the Black Hills. Did you know they're from the rose family?!

These leaves are another testament to the onset of autumn...along the trail to Spearfish Falls.

I'd been hoping to get photos of the fireweed before it was gone, and was happy to find it still in bloom along the roadside in the canyon yesterday.

Sunday, August 30

Skippers, but no MaryAnn. Just ID'itis

My friend J. and I had a lovely outing today, saw a lot of pretty things, ate some good Mexican food...but I wanted to finish sharing pics from my trip to Custer Park on Thurs...
I saw many butterflies and bugs Thurs. Now this skipper I could ID...a common checkered skipper. I think they're quite pretty for being 'common'.

Another skipper. Don't make me ID it...there are a zillion skippers residing in this area. Sigh. (Ok, maybe a pahaska skipper...?) And naturally most of them are not easy to distinguish from the others like the white one. But hey, this skipper is definitely drinking from a dotted gayfeather wildflower. I'm not ID'ing those two bugs below the skipper, either. Pfffft.

A hawk soaring hawk? I saw three hawks that day. Hawks are gorgeous, but I still hate ID'ing them!
Update: I've been told this is a Swainson's hawk. Thanks, L.!

Wild turkeys are common in the Black Hills. This female had at least three chicks with her, hidden from view, in the tall grass.

This hawk looks like a ferruginous hawk that's in the light phase. Gaaaack! I hate ID'ing hawks and butterflies!
Update: This is a Swainson's hawk also. Thanks again, L.!

Another skipper I haven't tried to ID due to the enormity of the task...well, ok, could be a tawny-edged. There, I threw a name out there.

Saturday, August 29

Pronghorn Antelopes

I never tire of seeing the antelope at Custer Park any more than I do the bison...esp. the gorgeous adult males...
What a guy...seemed to be keeping an eye on the females, along the wildlife loop...

Mamma antelope and her twins were nearby...these two pics were taken 3 min. apart yesterday. I'm pretty sure I've seen this trio before but who knows how many sets of twins there are.

Friday, August 28

Bison Business

I barely entered Custer St. Park yesterday when I came upon a large herd of mostly females and calves...on the road and beside it, in a roadside park...and at the NE entrance to the wildlife loop...
A picnic table makes a really good scratching post...

This was the first time I had an official greeter at the corner of the wildlife loop turn!

A bull decided it was time to take a dust powder for the ladies...

This image of mamma and calf was over-exposed so I tweaked the tone curve...

The red calf on the right was running at full speed ahead... something I'd never seen before. I mean, he was flyyyyying...the darker calf was loping after red.

Thursday, August 27

Red Crossbill

I took another drive around Custer State Park today, on and around the wildlife loop. Need I say, I was pretty excited to discover this male red crossbill flitting around in the trees close to where I'd parked and got out to look around. Another one of those maiden voyages up a dirt road off the beaten path. I saw a lot today, old and new; more photos to come.

I'm guessing this is a juvie red crossbill since the adult female looks nothing like this...she's solid yellow to olive-gray. This fledgie was with the adult male.

Wednesday, August 26

Not the weather: Hoary and Cloudy

I'm really Jones-ing for another visit to Custer State Park, which I plan to do tomorrow. Gotta see the eye doc the meantime here's a couple 'fly photos I hadn't shared...
This comma butterfly (hoary comma?) is on Canada thistle. The butterflies were really out and about that day. E Hills area last week.

This photo was taken in mid July at a muddy bend in a dirt road E of the Blk Hills, out in that farming area I like to visit. These sulphur butterflies were all over the mud. There were a lot more than seen here. They look like the clouded sulphur, which can be found all over South Dakota.

Tuesday, August 25

Hairy Woodpecker Visits

I was literally wondering what my post would be today, when the hubz came and asked me if I wanted pics of a woodpecker...yea right, HERE?! I decided to humor him, got my camera, switched the lenses...slinked to the glass door...whoa! She went here and there and I thought I'd missed the photo op, GRRR...few moments later I saw her in one of the poplar trees. And she began to hammer on one of the thin branches...this is her taking a rest actually...I was able to squeak the sliding door open and take shots...

...She was just wailing on that poor little branch...

...From all angles...

Monday, August 24

Tenpetal Blazingstar and Sphinx Moth

I'd been waiting a year to get more photos of the tenpetal blazingstar, a unique flower that only opens up at dusk. A.k.a. eveningstar; of the stickleaf family. My friend J. accompanied me down to Hot Springs last night, where we enjoyed fine dining at Pizza Hut...before heading further south a few miles to one of two spots where we know the flower grows. I haven't seen it anywhere further N in the Black likes the dry, desert-like soil found in the S-most part of the Hills.

Since the blazingstar doesn't open up until dusk, it is pollenated by moths. We did see bees out collecting too. The flower is favored by the white-lined sphinx moth, shown here. The moths flew by quite close to my face, a bit unnerving. The sphinx's wing span can reach 3.5" wide. It is called a hummingbird moth due to the way that it hovers, wings beating rapidly, as it sips the flower's nectar. You can see the red clay earth in the background that the blazingstar seems to favor, besides the dry brown clay earth in the Badlands area.

Sunday, August 23

Kool Deadwood Nites

The Kool Deadwood Nites weekend is an annual event that includes a classic car show. It also includes nightly performers...Fri. night it was Davey Jones...Oh the memories of my oldest sis's crush on Davey, and watching The Monkees TV show...The hubz and I cruised on up to Deadwood yesterday to check the cars out...

I've been a fan of classic Camaros since I was about twelve. My first car was a '70 Camaro, by chance...we'll leave 'that' story alone...

Al Capone gets in touch with his feminine side..?

The cars aren't the only interesting things you see at a gathering like this... the gentleman wearing this tee had solid white hair...

Did anyone see the ZZ Top dudes strolling around ?

The plate on this Mustang says "PURRPLE". Fitting. Being a Camaro gal, I didn't really want to put this photo in. But I'm trying to be fair.

By the way, for only a buck, you can ride a trolley around Deadwood. It's not a true trolley, it's a bus that looks like one. When the hubz took a wrong turn, we found out where the trolleys are garaged, cleaned, and gassed up. I took this shot as we were leaving. Next stop was KFC to finally cash in our freebie "Oprah" meal coupons...

Saturday, August 22

Chickadee, Croaker, Crowfoot

I took another drive yesterday, intending to go check out Pactola Lake for the first time. I've only seen the reservoir from the road. Well, I went N when I should've went S so decided to go on to a 'side road' where there's a spot by a creek I like to look around at...
I had a heck of a time getting pics of this busy-body black-capped chickadee. It seemed intent on picking at a dead leaf, not sure why. Maybe gathering ants or ? on it.

The fritillaries were out and about in flocks yesterday. This one is on goldenrod.

This would've been a better shot if I'd been able to squat down, but there was grass in the way that I needed to shoot over. Mr. Froggie was trying to blend into the background when I stumbled upon him on this mossy plant in a small stream in the NE Hills.

The white water crowfoot grows all over creeks and is in full swing right now. Again, much more abundant this year than in recent years past. From the buttercup family. I was trying to get a shot of the crowfoot when I discovered the frog. That's the awesome thing about photographing nature...always surprises, unexpected treasures to be found.

Friday, August 21

Peculiar Plantlife

Yea, who knew that common hops grows in the Black Hills?! It's the same as the cultivated version used to make beer. Hops grows on a vine and has a light, papery feel. From the hemp family.

I did a post awhile back about this... didn't know what it was at the time but then w/ a friend's help figured it out. It's the seed pod of the showy milkweed. Photo was taken going up to the top of Sheep Mt. in the S. Badlands area.

The curlycup gumweed is growing abundantly this year, like so many other wildflowers/plants of the Black Hills. That white goop is a sticky resin the plant produces. It does have a yellow flower, too. Not your typical aster.

Thursday, August 20

Swainson's Hawk

There were several hawks floating over the open fields along Highway 44 on Tues., as I made my way to the Badlands. Breakfast time. I managed to get this one shot of a nearby Swainson's hawk, with the 300 mm lens this time!

One shot and away he went.

Thankful Thursday

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who have posted comments at my blog. I do so appreciate hearing from you, and am honored and touched that you visit and enjoy my site. I really enjoy your blogs too!

Wednesday, August 19

Scenic and the Badlands

This brahma calf and its mama were in a pen in the tiny, rustic town of Scenic, SD, not far W. of the Badlands area. It's not every day you see Brahmas in this area, but ya do see Longhorns!

I'm pretty sure this is a nighthawk. I saw two of them on this fence rail in Scenic yesterday. They had their backs to me and I took photos from the road, from the car window. I could tell they were a new sighting for me and I didn't want to scare them off. As the bird guide points out, they were perched parallel to the rail, not facing outward as most birds do.

The town of Scenic, SD is along Hwy. 44, which runs S. of I-90. The Longhorn Saloon is just a popular photo op now. The town's population in 2000 was 87.

This is part of the panoramic view from the top of Sheep Mt. in the Southern section of the Badlands, just 60 miles E of the Eastern Black Hills area. Most visitors don't see this area. The popular loop drive is in the Northern area off of I-90.

Speaking of...driving through the N. Badlands, it looks like this on either side of the road in some areas.