Tuesday, January 26

Blurry in Blue

I'm still retro-ing here..will be for a couple weeks anyway...well, I do want to get out and see what I can find/snap with the pocket digital. Anywho, this is the one and only blurry photo I took last year of a blue grosbeak. Will I see another one, or two...this year? I'm so anxious for the birds to return! This photo was taken when I was still very much learning the basics of my SLR camera. But in all fairness, it was also taken when I came to a screeching halt in the middle of the road to E Custer Park and shot in a quick moment through the opposite passenger window before it promptly flew off.

Monday, January 25

A Retro Tiger

Ah, yes...the 'tiger' lily...the wood lily actually...my favorite one I found last summer, it was this deep coral/pink color unlike the usual orange ones. The wood lily grows wild in the Black Hills, but it isn't easy to find. This particular beauty was near the road going in to Wonderland Cave.

I quit posting wildflower photos some time ago, for the most part, since they didn't seem to pique much interest...but I began my nature photography adventure with wildflowers and consider them my 'first love.'

Saturday, January 23

Crazy Horse Memorial

I've been wanting to post these photos for awhile now...the one tourist trap I haven't featured yet. Problem is, I have mixed feellings about Crazy Horse Memorial. The museum there is worth a visit. The work itself was the vision of a non-native named Ziolkowski whose family carries on his work. As you can see, the complete rock carving will not be done for generations to come. Only the man's face is finished...the carving will be of Crazy Horse with his arm out-stretched over the top of his horse's head, pointing towards the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). From the website: Native American leaders chose Crazy Horse (upon Z's request) for the mountain carving because he was a great and patriotic hero. Crazy Horse's tenacity of purpose, his modest life, his unfailing courage, and his tragic death set him apart and above the others.

He is considered a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture."

It's a long story; click the title of this post  if you want to know more. Anyway, the Huz and I were dumb enough to join in the '07 Volksmarch to the top of Crazy Horse...the LONG way. UGH! It's pretty humbling to have folks 10, 20 years older than you zipping on by and up the trail like you're a weed on the side of the path. There's a direct road from the museum, etc. to the monument but it's a 'march' so they have to make it as treacherous as possible...and I am no marathon runner by a long shot, but we both made it to the plateau eventually....

This is the view of the monument from a bit of a distance. Note the white markings on the far right of the rock, indicating where the horse's ear and eye will go.

We of course saw a few critters on the hike through the woods below the rock...this is a poor photo of a woodchuck...taken with a pocket digital at the time...

This is getting closer to the monument...having reached the actual road to the top...

There's the Huz in the hat in front of Crazy Horse's face. We made it. Huff, puff...wheeeeeze.

This is the view from one side of the monument..that's the road coming in from hwy. 385 to the monument's grounds.

Wednesday, January 20

One Year Ago, Sort of

I'm taking a break from my photography right now...winter blahs are settling in, which is ok since I need to have my camera cleaned (taking it in tomorrow) and that means no camera for 2-3 weeks. I also need to go through my '09 photos and do some serious spring cleaning. So, until March I'll be mostly posting older photos...not like there's a shortage of those...these were taken last Jan. and Feb....

This is county road #101 last January, it runs W/E below Wind Cave Park.

This is probably my favorite enhanced photo, a zig-zag pole fence in Silver City, a tiny town hidden in the Black Hills.

I thought this snow pattern looked interesting...also in Silver City.

Another tweaked photo...Queen Anne's lace near Sylvan Lake in the NW corner of Custer Park.

Sunday, January 17

Golden Eagle it is Then!

I should've commented yesterday that the only bird this resembled using my field guide was the golden eagle...looks like the consensus is that it is just that. I didn't say anything cause I didn't want to be disappointed when I was kindly informed it was something else, ha! So I'm excited that it's a golden eagle, a lifer for me! Yess!! Well, ok, as far as I know anyway.  ;o)  Thanks all for your input!

Saturday, January 16

Bird Brain

Oops...I did see the usual winter-time birds around Custer Park on Wed., including a few birds of prey, which as usual I'm not sure about...

The dark-eyed juncos were plentiful...

Yet another bird of prey sighted that I can't ID...??

And some cute-as-ever black-capped chickadees flitting here and there.

Thursday, January 14

Just Another Day at Custer State Park

Imetam, thank you for visiting, I am really touched that my blog has moved you so...fabulous!

I took another one of my photo-op drives yesterday ~ gotta enjoy this sunny, warm weather while it's here...50+ in Jan. is unreal! As usual, I went out with no expectations and ended up beyond satisfied. I wasn't on the wildlife loop in CSP very long when I witnessed, for the second time no less, something considered a rare sighting...a herd of bison running at full gallop! I roared down the road, ignoring the 35 mph speed limit (just this once!) to get closer for some photos....hard to tell they're running but trust me, they were...it was awesome!

As I drove along past the fencing, which is dotted with bird houses, I realized that all of the houses had been opened and cleaned out. Getting ready for this coming spring! Mostly the tree swallows nest in them.

There were bison everywhere, down out of the trees to enjoy the warmer temps...those white tags on their back sides means they were sold last Aug. but haven't been collected yet...

The prairie dogs were as sassy as ever, guarding their territory...

Oh, hey! Is that a coyote?! Always a cheap thrill for me to see for some reason...they'll move away from any intruding humans, but they always stop and look, and I was ready...he's looking winter woolly...

I was wondering where the antelope were, didn't see any for awhile, then eventually came upon two females...and later a good-sized herd...

After leaving the park at the east entrance, same way I went in, I was startled to see a bald eagle standing in a snow-covered pasture...I screeched to a hasty halt and snuck out of the car around to the back side to get a couple shots before it flew off to some trees. Lovely way to end my outing!

Monday, January 11

A Mount and a Mountain Goat

Yesterday friend Jayne and I took a drive down to Mt. Rushmore. We're having a break in the weather; sunny and at least 40 F so it's get-out-of-the-house weather, while the gettin's good. I wanted to get the annual pass so I can go to the monument once in awhile to look for Mt. goats. They've been the one Black Hills critter blatantly missing from my photos (besides a few others)...I do have older photos but want to get some w/ the SLR camera. Anywho, as you can see, the prez's are still there...ol' George looks like he's got a gash on his forehead, but it's just melting snow, ha!

 We did see a couple Mt. goats on the rocks below the monument, too far away to get really good photos, but you get the idea. Mountain goats are not native to the Black Hills. The population can be traced to six goats, a gift to Custer State Park by Canada in 1924, that escaped from their pens and found their home among the Black Hills granite peaks. There are now more than 200 mountain goats in the area.

Saturday, January 9

Song Sparrow Visits

Song sparrows visit my backyard feeders in the spring, summer...but this is the first one I've seen since winter came blasting in...and of course I couldn't get any good photos, through the glass. It's supposed to be 30-40 F the next few days so I plan to get out tomorrow. Maybe today, but I just can't decide where to go and the winter frumpies are winning the battle so far...

(Note: I had orig. labeled this a house sparrow, though I meant song sparrow...I am forever getting the two mixed up! Thanks for saying something, Marnie.)

Thursday, January 7

Thoroughly Thicked Off on Thursday

So, my Wordless Wednesday post...I was torked off, fed up with the cold and icky weather, packed frozen snow patches on the roads, snow drifts barely budging since C'mas Day...days below zero, wind gusts...all the while knowing we have this to look forward to until mid May...GRRR. Y'all might be shocked to know that as much as I love the Black Hills, I can't wait to move away from here. The Huz will decide soon whether to work one or two more years, then we move away from the midwest... Anyway, back to yesterday's post...that was me, refusing to post a snowy picture of anything...No, there isn't a single wildflower growing in this area between Oct. and March...I took that photo last June. I needed COLOR and WARMTH!!

Ok so it's supposed to be a balmy 40 Sun. I hope to get out looking for something to snap then. In the meantime, I got nothin' more to say about nothin'!    YR.

Wednesday, January 6

Sunday, January 3

Cedar Waxwings Visit

Bohemian waxwings can be seen here in winter, and I was hoping, but the underside of the tail is white so it's a cedar...the bohemians have reddish under-tails, darn it. I was putting the feeders out this morning, when this waxwing landed in the poplar tree as I was passing it. I managed to get a few crummy photos...there was another one in the back neighbor's yard near the fence also. They like berries, wish I had some!

Friday, January 1

A Brand New Year

My last drive-about of 2009 was on Tues. I enjoyed being out on the dirt and gravelly back roads E of the Black Hills, amid the farms and ranches. I find it very peaceful and quiet in that area. Besides the hawks and grouse that I came upon, I also enjoyed the scenery, despite the cold and leftover blizzard snow...

There was the distant view of Bear Butte to the north, from Ricard Rd. ...

There were swirly, pretty patterns in the snow along the country roads...this one reminds me of the quilted top of a mattress...

There was a whipping cream-smooth snow bank looking freshly whipped up...look closer, it's surrounded by critter paw/hoof prints....

There were many stacks of hay bales, covered in powdered, sugary snow...these with the Black Hills in the background...

Also enjoying the view in the area was this hawk...there's a bit of melancholy to the open prairie grasses, but it's overridden by the peacefulness, for me at least...

Suddenly, amid all the stillness where only an occasional bird was stirring...a cottontail caught my eye as I drove by this gravel driveway in front of a house. It didn't budge as I backed up to take a snap. It blends so well...if it wasn't casting a shadow, I may have missed it...

An unexpected, smile-invoking surprise at the end of my outing along country lanes...nature never fails to move and amaze me. I can't wait to find out what She has to share in 2010!

Family, friends, and fellow bloggers...I wish you an amazingly healthy and rewarding New Year!