Tuesday, November 19, 2013

West Trip part 2

Where was I....

After my conference in Rapid City , SD, I again met up with the leader from the bird field trip and he graciously offered to chauffeur me around for another day of birding.  While in the field trip we were limited by the preset route; now we could go anywhere and had already done the Black Hills before.  So, this time we set out to do the lowlands with a quick stop at the base of some hills where Pinyon Jay had been seen before.  We lucked out for Pinyon Jay but did have a nice bit of activity.  Black-billed Magpie, House Finch, and Cedar Waxwings were all moving around the pines. 

My bird host Gene at our first stop

From there we headed out into the agricultural areas and to a seasonal pond.  We got lucky with water and birds. 

Seasonal pond- American Avocets and such..

The most important for me was Wilson's Phalarope (lifer)!  Not a great picture but it will work. 

Wilson's Phalarope

While staring at the pond there were a couple of Upland Sandpipers that let me know, they would rather I got back into the car and leave them ALONE!

Upland Sandpiper
While distracted by me the Uppies didn't pay attention to the real threats and one almost 'bought the farm' when this guy showed up....

Red-tailed Hawk
Fly away Upland Sandpiper!!!

Luckily, the Red-winged Blackbirds were there to help chase the Red-tailed Hawk away. 

Call me weird but I did get a couple of life birds on my trip that I didn't want.  (What????).  Not being a huge 'lister' I'm not compelled to see every bird possible at every spot.  And the truth is there are just some birds I want to see at home!  These are the few that aren't everywhere in CT but can be found on random occasions.  And they are birds that seem to be avoiding me.  One of these species flew across our path while heading through a little wooded area near a farm.  It was a Red-headed Woodpecker (lifer).  But since we saw another one too I guess I can't complain too much.  No picture because they really are bad.

We decided to head east a bit but on the way this eagle caught our eye.  We never got close enough for good looks or photos and this is about the best.  We called it a Bald Eagle but now I begin to wonder....  What do you think?

The eagle:  Bald?  Golden?
Once we made it out to the east of Rapid City, we poked along in some more fields and enjoyed quite a bit of nature, not all birdy either.

Thanks to the fences and fence posts, we did get some fantastic views of Horned Larks...

Horned Lark
Lark Buntings (lifer).....

Lark Bunting
and Grasshopper Sparrows!

Grasshopper Sparrow
Probably the cutest stop of the day was as we headed back into town, right after we almost made a Gray Partridge (lifer) road kill around a bend in the road; we found a nice colony of prairie dogs (awww)

Black-tailed prairie dog
Do you kow what will reuse prairie dog holes?  That's right Burrowing Owls. (awww how cute!)

Burrowing Owl

And what trip to South Dakota would be complete without a picture of pronghorn antelopes. (ps... they aren't really antelopes) 

The un-antelope antelope..  Antilocapra americana 

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