Friday, July 31

Post 103: Back Out in Farm Country

Ok, many bloggers point out their 100th post; I managed to miss it with Tues's post...which was the day I went for another drive out in 'farmland'....

I have to say, is this a cool shot or what?! Tues., I stopped by a few trees to take a photo of a fledgling Western kingbird on the fence. Next thing I knew, Mr. or Mrs. Kingbird was bouncing from branch to branch in the nearby tree, chattering at me, no doubt trying to distract me from his/her prince/princess. I somehow managed to get this shot just after lift-off; looks like a dive bomb!

I found this pretty patch of asters along the road, near a farm house. It isn't a Black Hills wildflower; I don't know what it is. Birds are good at freeing garden flowers from their cultivated life. :o) Well, ok, could've been the prairie wind, too. Or maybe Mrs. Farmer planted them there on purpose, but gave up on weeding. If you know what this is or might be, please do tell!

Update: Thanks Marnie! The flower is a tickseed, or coreopsis. There are dozens of varieties and after going through over 30 Goggle pages, I still couldn't find the exact same flower. The closest is the red-eyed tickseed.

Finally, a froggie poser! I've scared up quite a few of the skittish jumpsters while stomping around at a pond or puddle, and they always disappear into the water or tall grass. But this spotted fellow posed nicely in the open for a bit.

Thursday, July 30

More Feathers, Flora, and Fur

The first time I passed the big puddle at the south end of the round-up corrals in Custer Park on Sun., this great blue heron was taking a dip. I got several photos before some bikers came along and scared it off w/ their rumbling V-twins. The 2nd time I went by the puddle, a male antelope was there.

Yesterday I posted a pic of a wood nymph on bee balm. The bee balm in that pic is lavender, its normal color, but on rare occasions it grows white. I know of a spot along the trail in the E Hills not far from our home where a couple clusters of white grow. I found just 3-4 white bee balm flowers on the road that leads from CSP into Wind Cave Nat'l Park, on Sun.

I saw my first sharp-tailed grouse Sun., got a couple ok pics and then it flew off. I saw more grouse, a hen with chicks, on Tues. E of the Hills.

I also came across a few of the bush morning- glory on that road from CSP into Wind Cave Park. I'd only found these in the SE foothills before. The flowers are about 3" wide, much larger than the more common, pesky creeping jenny.

..."That's a big 10-4 good buddy..." Yep, some of the antelope (and bison) have radio collars. Makes them seem pretty tame, but they're still wild animals. I have to keep telling myself that, too, cause the urge to pet the pretty animals is real strong. But even if I tried, they wouldn't let me. The antelope would simply sprint away...the bison would flatten me like a bison chip...or have me for a mid-day snack. Dang it all.

Wednesday, July 29

A Bunny, A Bluebird, and A Butterfly on Bee balm

The first photo op I came upon during my drive along part of Custer Park's wildlife loop on Sun., was this cottontail nibbling in the morning sunlight. They like to visit the grass in our yards, too.

I've had a hard time getting a good photo of a female Mt. bluebird, but this one posed very nicely for me on Sun. in the park. I thanked her, too.

Well, I've done research and I think this is a wood nymph, of the brush-footed butterfly family. I know that it's on bee balm, a.k.a. wild bergamot, from the mint family. The mints are one of my favorite wildflower families, and they all mainly grow from July to Aug. or Sept.

Tuesday, July 28

How Now Brown Calf?!

I took a drive through the East half of Custer Park's wildlife loop Sun. It's summer, and that means tourist season...traffic wasn't bad at all on a Sun. morning...until I reached a large bison herd by the side of ~ and in ~ the road...there were few mature males, and they were all very vocal. The rest were females, some w/ calves...the bulls were checking out the cows so you know what that means...(yes, and also that the season is changing, UGH!)

This is what it looks like when tourists come upon a bison herd, or the wild burros at the park. I was trapped, and the bulls were restless...tourists don't get that bison will attack people or cars...

Aw look, the cute, wiry, red-haired calves are here too...

Hey, wait a minute! I totally forgot that calves don't stay red, duh! So it was a jolt to realize Sun. that most of the calves have turned brown! This calf is still red, but looks like it's outlined in brown!

This calf is all brown and has horn buds. The hair becomes smoother when it browns up.

This calf must've been an early arrival; it's got more horn growth than any others I saw in the herd Sun. And it has the thick 'do on its head.

Monday, July 27

Wyoming Wildflowers

Ok, I can't go without sharing more of the wildflowers we saw in Yellowstone, and through the Big Horn Mts. I saw several more I didn't get a photo many wildflowers, so little time...

I saw this at an info station turn-out in the Big Horn Mts., E of Yellowstone, on our way to the park on the 20th. I'd never seen a red penstemon before and wondered if this was an escaped garden flower or was it wild? Turns out there are over 250 wild penstemons in N America! This one might be firecracker or Eaton's penstemon.

I think this is a duncecap larkspur. It looks similar to lupine from the road and it took me awhile to realize, hey, wait a minute, that isn't lupine...
I stumbled upon this white bog-orchid at a shaded pull-out area. In the Black Hills, we have a Northern bog orchid, but it's pale green.
I have yet to ID this flower, so if anyone knows or knows something similar, please let me know. It looks similar to the buckwheats (below).

The bracted lousewort was a flower I was hoping to see, like the Indian paintbrush.

This is American bistort, found here and there in YNP.

Lewis monkeyflower! The Black Hills has a yellow-colored monkeyflower. This flower wasn't real common.

The silky phacelia was abundant in the park. From the waterleaf family.

I believe this is Northern buckwheat. It was fairly common throughout the park.

It looks like this is sulfur-flower buckwheat; definitely a buckwheat anyway. This was the only one I saw, in the Big Horn Mts.

I knew right off this was a wild onion, but in SD we only have white ones. This is the shortstyle onion.

Sunday, July 26

One More Yellowstone Post

I took this shot on the way home Wed. morn, in the Big Horn Mts E. of Cody. Yes, yes, that white stuff is you-know-what.

I've never seen a pink agoseris before...I did a double take! Looks alot like a mt. dandelion (aka pale agoseris). I only saw this one!

We saw a few sandhill cranes in the park, incl. this one silhouetted in the morning light.

Tues. morn when we stopped to enjoy the view and the fresh, crisp air, we found this fellow nibbling on breakfast.

They don't make thistles like this in So. Dakota! These Everts thistles were all over the park, and covered all over by beetles that like them, so impossible to get a bug-free shot. They have multiple heads, and can grow 2 ft.

This is a different elk fawn than in my previous post, seen near the others that we saw at Mammoth Hot Springs.
I was really hoping to find elephanthead (figwort family)... take a closer look at a single flower and you can see why it's called that... and was surprised to find it right away, in the Big Horn Mts. actually before reaching YNP. As you can see in the background, it was among the 1st Indian paintbrush I saw, too! We made a random stop to get out and stretch, and it happened to be near a small creek where these were growing.

Friday, July 24

Yellowstone Nat'l Park 2

The only large wildlife we saw at the park were bison, and female elk with fawns. We found the elk Tues. morning as we headed back down from the N. gate, in Mammoth Hot Springs. These two fawns were lounging about w/ their mom(s). No way to tell if they were twins.

Canadian geese were everywhere...we came upon several Tues. a.m., at Twin Lakes, butt-up...presumably was a comical sight!

You didn't seriously think I'd leave out wildflowers?! I was sooo excited to see the scarlet-colored paintbrush at first, but it was everywhere in the park! There are several kinds, so I'm not sure this is actually Indian paintbrush. The wildflowers were amazing! Yellows, whites, blues, pinks, and the paintbrush red everywhere.

This is Roaring Mt., way cool! You can hear the steam escaping from's like the Mt. is "talking"...In the 1800's it was louder, could be heard 4 miles away! The photo doesn't do it justice, it was really spooky-awesome.

Thursday, July 23

Yellowstone Nat'l Park 1

We reached the park Mon. about 9:00 a.m. and had to wait several minutes in a line at the gate. The first thing of major note, heading W. from the E. entrance, is Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elev. lake in N America, at 7,738 ft...

The drive along Yellowstone Lake is awesome! It just cannot be captured in a single photo... there are spots with geo-thermal activity, a unique sign that you're in Yellowstone.

Pelicans were cruising along Tower Creek; we only saw a couple others during our visit.

This view was somewhere along the eastern route through the park. The scenery is like this throughout the area, just gorgeous.

The Lower Falls is a must-see at the park; it's one of few things I recall of my first visit over 30 yrs ago. You can hike to the edge of the drop..the tiny square shape at the right edge is a group of people. There was no way I was hiking down that steep trail.

We ended our first day at the N. end of the park, at the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. There are 9 lower terraces, and 7 upper terraces in all. This is the top layer, with a great view of the town..MHS is actually a small town.

Saturday, July 18

Off to Yellowstone Nat'l Park

Hubby and I were to leave Mon. for Yellowstone, about a 7-hour's drive away...we're leaving tomorrow instead, so stay tuned for photos from that trip, probably Thurs. See you then! (Unless, of course, we get eaten alive by a grizzly or moose or...)
Update: This photo was taken E of the Black Hills in what I call "farmland"...yes it would be great to know the history of this old, abandoned home that is sitting in a field of yellow sweetclover.

Friday in Farmland

I took another drive out in farmland yesterday, and right off came across a (rough-legged?) hawk perched on a dead tree top, too far away for good shots, dang it. I stopped and watched a red-winged blackbird harrass the hawk until it finally flew off, followed by the still hot-headed rwbb.

There were several of these Wilson's phalaropes trekking around in the slimy muck on the apparently shallow, large pond yesterday. Eww.

I think I found a duck nursery yesterday. A small pond by the road in one area was quite busy with mama ducks and chicks; no males that I could see. I believe this is a blue-winged teal...she had 7 chicks in all. A mama coot and chicks were cruising around, too, besides other bw teal moms/chicks.

The arrowhead, a.k.a. duck potato, was on my to-find botany list. I found it in spades at all of the ponds I came across out in farmland. Not the best photo, but I was trying not to fall into the water.

There were common blue damselflies all over at the large pond. There was a real pretty black dragonfly with bright blue patches at the wing tips but I couldn't get a $#?!+@ photo...

Friday, July 17

Monday's Bird Mania, Part 3

A red-winged blackbird on Western dock. Weird color-combo.

The eastern kingbirds were out and about Mon. in the area.

This is what it looks like at the smaller pond...lots of yellow sweetclover to pretty things up.

Isn't he coot? An American coot, that is. What a mug, eh? This was the first water fowl that I saw on Mon., on the large pond.

This barely-fledged fledgling was fly-flopping to the side of the road when I approached. I wonder if this is a meadowlark chick?! It was too big to be a sparrow...

I can only guess this is a Savannah sparrow, on dry yucca pods. Other sparrow candidates don't seem to match as well.

I came across some eggs at the shore of the smaller idea what they belong to.