Custer State Park

June 9-12, 2008

The last time I was in Custer State Park in February, everything was so brown that I included a disclaimer in my writeup that I had not sepia-toned the images. No such problem this time. Daily thunderstorms have turned the prairie green, and the park is no exception.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Follow the Yellow Brick Road

The other change from February is all the new babies that have been brought into the world. Bison, pronghorn and prairie dog young are now exploring the grassland. A power beyond us might want to tell them that South Dakota usually isn't this green.

In February, one of the goals was to see the bighorn sheep, and somehow I managed to find them. This time I set out to find elk, and I did. Unfortunately by the time I found them it was so dark that the only images I got were at 3200 ISO and were extremely noisy. But I can testify that there are elk in the park.

Bison grazing
Bison grazing

With the exception of the bighorns, I though February's images were somewhat repetitive of what I had gotten before. This time even though the primary subjects remain bison, pronghorn and prairie dogs, the green and the newborns provided new opportunities.

After Custer I drove up the west side of the Black Hills through Wyoming north to Devils Tower, which I probably haven't visited in 25 years. I declined to pay the $10 entrance fee, but got some snapshots from the road.

After an interesting but image-free drive through the Black Hills around Spearfish, all that remained on my drive back to Sioux Falls was a stop at a raptor nest just north of I-90 near the tiny town of Quinn. I spotted the nest last winter, and sure enough there is a young one in the nest this spring. I'm fairly sure it's a golden eagle. There were no adults in evidence. The bird wasn't very active, standing to stretch for just brief moments, but I've posted one image that isn't too awful. The image gallery also includes an Upland Sandpiper I spotted while taking a shortcut back to I-90.

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