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Category Archives: Wildlife Photography

The day following the Buffalo Roundup we planned on doing some hiking out of Badger Hole. There is a nice hike over the mountains to a horse camp that I made about fifteen years ago and we were going to try it. We had a couple of false starts before getting off on the wrong trail. We finally decided it was way too hot to hike. I thought I had lost one of my camera cases at the roundup the day before so we decided to drive the wildlife loop and stop at the parking lot to see if it fell out of the car. It was also a beautiful fall day so we thought we would get some nice fall photos.

More photos from Custer State Park can be found on my website.

When we reached the Buffalo pens there were quite a few folk taking photos of the Buffalo that had been rounded up the day before. The fall colors by the pens were near peak making for some great photos.

We didn’t see the Begging Burros at their normal place and were wondering where they were. A little while later we found them wandering down the road. It took us about a half an hour to get past them. For some reason they kept wanting to walk down the middle of the road.

Just past the burrows we noticed some outstanding fall color on the hills. I had to shoot fast because the burros were coming up the road and we didn’t want to get stuck behind them again.

A little while later my wife noticed this Coyote come out of the woods and walk through a Prairie Dog town. We quickly pull off the road and started taking photos. For some reason the last few times we have been in the Black Hills we have seen Coyotes. I’ve probably hike in the Black Hills fifteen times and had never seen a Coyote until recently. This one walked up to the road and stopped. It looked both ways then crossed the road. It seemed to have more sense that most people. It stopped on the other side of the road so we could get some more photos. Notice in the second photo there is a Prairie Dog at the very top of the photo watching the Coyote.

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After photographing early in the morning we headed back to Wall and had an early breakfast at Wall Drug. First place I’ve ever encountered that refused to make sunny side up eggs. While at breakfast we check the map and decided to drive back out to the park and drive the Sage Creek Rim Road. We have been driving through the badlands for years but have never driven the Sage Creek Rim Road  other that the first few hundred yards.  According to the map we would eventually end up in Hermosa which was our destination.

It was a beautiful early fall day and the color was nearing its peak.

We saw all kinds of wildlife on the drive. We hadn’t gone far before we encountered this Bighorn Sheep ram resting at the side of the road. He wasn’t about to move so we had to drive around him.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

As small herd of Pronghorn Antelope crossed the road in front of us.

Pronghorn Antelope

Of course there were the ever present Prairie Dogs. It seems like there are more and more of them.

Prairie Dogs

There are Buffalo in the park but they are rarely seen on the Badlands Loop Road. We see them fairly frequently on the Sage Creek Rim Road. At one point we found a large number of them in a pen. Apparently there had been a roundup but the bulls still seemed to be roaming the park.

Buffalo

We had gotten out of the car to take some landscape photos and noticed this Coyote walking along. I went back to get my long lens and, of course, he dissapeared. I went back and got my landscape lens and sure enough he reappeared in full view but he was too far away for a shot.

Coyote

While we were watching the Prairie Dogs we notice a large bird sitting out in the Prairie Dog town. It looked to be the size of an eagle but we knew it wasn’t an eagle. Later we found out it was a Ferruginous Hawk. Apparently Prairie Dogs are one of its favorite meals. They frequently sit by an active hole and wait for the Prairie Dog to emerge. We later encountered several of them flying.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

After exiting the Sage Creek Rim Road we ended up in Scenic, South Dakota.

We then drove through the Stronghold Unit of the Badlands. This place had been used as a bombing range. When we pulled over to take this photo I also took a photo of the warning sign.

We were hoping for a great sunrise but that didn’t happen. However the blue hour was spectacular.

We had some nice light for early morning photography.

Many of the same animals were around early in the morning.

Bighorn Sheep

Mule Deer

We drove out to the Badlands hoping for a beautiful sunset. That didn’t happen but there was still some nice evening light for photography.

There were plenty of wildlife to be seen as evening approached. We saw many Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer.

 

When I went out to pick tomatoes this summer I noticed that someone had been eating them. I couldn’t figure who like tomatoes but a couple of days later I spotted the culprits in the garden.

We had made two trips on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State park but still hadn’t seen many Buffalo. After a stop at Crazy Horse Monument we drove over to Silvan Lake in Custer State Park. It’s always nice at the lake.

We were thinking of driving to Custer for Dinner but then decided that since we were going to be driving out to the Wildlife Loop we should stop at the State Game Lodge for Dinner. It was a big hit. After Dinner we once again started searching for Buffalo.

We drove out on a dirt road and did find about 25 buffalo but they were too far away to photograph. We also found a lot of Prairie Dogs. There were a large group of them clustered around a single hole.

We drove back to the Wildlife Loop and hadn’t gone far when we encountered a family of Wild Turkeys. I think this is the first time I had seen Wild Turkeys in the park.

We also encountered the Begging Burrows.

As we drove around the park there were some ominous clouds in the sky. The weather was supposed to get nasty later in the evening.

Still no Buffalo but as we neared the end of the Wildlife Loop we hit the mother load. There were probably 400 Buffalo along the road and a long traffic Jam. It took us 45 minutes to get through the herd because the Buffalo were constantly wandering across the road. You don’t want to iterate them particularity during the fall rut. As some of them passed the car they gave us a dirty look.

Success at last. The next morning we drove out again and the large herd was still in the same area.

We recently made a quick trip to South Dakota stopping in Murdo on our first night. When we woke up in the morning there were some great clouds in the western sky as well as a rainbow.

We then drove over to the Badlands but the clouds were so low that we couldn’t see much. I didn’t bother to take any photos. Our next stop was Custer State Park where we were looking for Buffalo. It was rutting season so the cows, bulls and calf’s should have been together in a large herd. We took the wildlife drive and couldn’t find a single buffalo. The park interpreter said it was because of all the motorcycles in the park. the big Sturgis rally had just taken place. There were still motorcycles going through the park. We did managed to see some wildlife.

Pronghorn

Begging Burrows

Begging Burrows

Prairie Dogs

After leaving Red Canyon and Moccasin Mountain Tracksite we drove to Page, Arizona. The next morning we retraced our route back toward Knab, Utah. We were looking for a ranger station to get updated information. The first one we stopped at was closed but were able to find someone at the Paria Contact Station. She was a retired volunteer who spends her summers working in national parks and was very knowledgeable about the area and current conditions. We then headed for the Toadstools which were just down the road from the Contact Station. I had been there an number of years ago and thought it would be a nice short hike.

In addition to the Toadstools we found a few early spring flowers blooming.

There was also a little wildlife to be found.

 

Last week we made a visit to the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. Vince was a lumberman in the area and loved to make pancakes. His loggers loved them, unfortunately, so did the local black bears. The bears  kept breaking into his cabins looking for food. The first solution was to shoot them but he found he couldn’t shoot enough of them. He then tried feeding them. That seemed to work. They quit breaking into his cabins. However, what started out as a few bears turned into many bears. When Vince could no longer feed them The American Bear Association took over the project. The bears are wild but there is a small area where they feed the bears. This year we were a little early and there were only a couple dozen bears around. At the peak feeding time, mid August to the end of August, there can be up to fifty bears in the area. If you want to see bears this is the place to do it.

Generally we visit Perrot State Park in the Spring and in the fall but we had some time and the need to finish a book we were listening to on the car CD so we drove down to  Perrot State Park for a hike to the overlook of the Mississippi River.

 

 

 

 

There were a lot of dragonflies around. I had my macro lens on the camera so it was a challenge to get close enough to them to get a photograph.

Common Whitetail

Common Pondhawk

There were also some butterflies around but I didn’t have much luck photographing them.

Aphrodite Fritillary

There were also a variety of wildflowers blooming.

Goat’s Beard

Butterfly Weed