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Monthly Archives: July 2019

We were walking on the Red Cedar Trail earlier in the week and noticed a large number of Monarch Butterflies around. It looked like many of them had just emerged. We found this fellow on the trail trying to dry it’s wings. We moved it off of the trail so it didn’t get run over by bikers.

 

 

I noticed this White-tailed Deer Fawn out in the Prairie one evening. It’s mother was nowhere to be seen.

 

I used to see Eastern Phoebes all summer. At one point they nested above a light outside my garage. They then nested under the deck for a couple of years. Since they stopped nesting around the house I normally only see them after their first batch of young hatch.

 

It has been very warm so I’ve not been able to do a lot of hiking on the Red Cedar State Trail. I have gone out a couple of times early in the morning and found the following along the trail.

Spiderwort

Motherwort

Heal-all

Blooming Grass

Dragonflie

We spent several days driving and hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in late spring. There are some fantastic views of the interior of the park from the Boicourt Overlook.

We stopped at Peaceful Valley Ranch to look around. This is also an access point for many hiking trails. Unfortunately access to the trails requires crossing the Little Missouri River. This year the water was a little high and we noticed only one car in the parking lot. As we were watching this lone female was returning from her hike.

A Panorama of the bend in the Little Missouri River.

 

There was a variety of wildlife in addition to the wild horses. This young Pronghorn was in a valley off of East River Road. We saw several males in another section of the park.

This is one of the better parks to observe to observe Prairie Dogs. The little ones were out in force.

We typically don’t see many Buffalo. The first one was on the trail to the Old East Entrance Station. The second one had an itch and we watched it for about 15 minutes as it rubbed against the hillside.

Lots of interesting rock formations around the park.

 

In late June we drove out to South Dakota and then up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In the evening we drove around the Park looking for wild horses. We saw only one. The next morning we tried again and were successful beyond our wildest dreams. We saw a total of 88 wild horses. Finding that many was really lucky. Normally there is a loop road through the park but the road is near the loop junction. As a result the drive is out and back. We saw 78 of the horses one section of the park. An hour later we drove through the same area and saw only one horse.

 

 

Early in the morning we drove out to the Cathedral Spires Trail on the Needles Highway. It is good to get to the parking lot early because space is limited.The trail is short but steep as it goes up a gully. The Cathedral Spires are spectacular. I wish that there had been some climbers in the area. It would have been fun to watch them climb.  It was a beautiful morning. When we reached the trails end we met another person from Wisconsin. Turns out he lives about 50 miles from us. It’s a small world.

 

Every year that we visit Custer State Park we try to hike to the top of Black Elk Peak at least once. Our hikes normally start at Sylvan Lake. The lake can be spectacular early in the morning. We opted for an early start because we were scheduled to get some bad weather later in the day.

The Trails to Black Elk Peak were in rough shape. The Black Hills had received a lot of rain this spring and just the week before had seen over 21 inches of snow in some spots. Everything seemed to be a bit behind in terms of the trees leafing out. There was a lot of mud on the trail and a lot of trails were badly eroded. The conditions are the worst I’ve seen in the last 30 years.

The sun was out at the start of the hike although we could see clouds in the northwest.

As we neared the spur trail to the summit it started to rain and we heard a loud clap of thunder. We immediately turned around but after backtracking for a short distance we determined that the electrical storm had missed us so we headed back toward the summit.

On the way back down we took the trail toward the Cathedral Spires. We could see that it was raining hard off in the distance.

We stopped for a bite to eat at the Cathedral Spires overlook and it was sunny out but by the time we made it back to Sylvan Lake it looked like rain. Shortly after leaving the parking lot it started raining hard.

When we arrived at Custer State Park we decided to drive the Needles Highway. It was a good thing we did because we found out that it was going to be closed for a few days due to road constructions. It was a beautiful day for a ride. It was still early enough in the season so there were plenty of places to park at the various pull offs.

 

My wife and I love to drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. We usually see the same cast of characters but every once in a while we are surprised. Buffalo are of course the main attraction. In the spring you have a great opportunity to see the young. For some unknown reason the young seem to like to feed in the middle of the road thus creating a traffic jam. In the spring the bulls are hanging out by themselves or with small groups of bulls.

The second most popular attraction is the Begging Burrows. They can usually be found north of the north roundup viewing area. There were no you burros around but a number of the females looked pregnant.

We were lucky to see a number of Pronghorns but no young. A posting from the park indicated that folks started seeing the young a week after our visit.

We also saw a few deer in the park.

Prairie Dogs are common in the park.

We normally try to drive out past the park airport early in the morning. The light is good and the birds are out and about. This is a great place to see Mountain Bluebirds.

The Mountain Bluebirds have the same problem as the Eastern Bluebirds. Their house is just the right size for the Tree and Barn Swallows. It seemed there were fewer bluebirds this year because the swallows occupied most of the houses.

There were quite a few Meadowlarks around.

This was the first time we saw Upland Sandpipers in the park. We saw them on a couple of occasions. The one on the fence post was with the bluebirds.

 

Red-winged Blackbirds were around.

We stopped at the Blue Bell Lodge for a bite to eat and noticed five Turkey Vultures sitting in the trees around the lodge.