Monday, July 28, 2014

Montana to Iowa

While at Great Falls, Montana we spent several hours on a 9 miles auto tour at Benton National Wildlife Refuge.  These beautiful Am Avocets were adamant about protecting their growing fledglings.

The fields had many Upland Sandpipers curiously peeking their heads above the prairie grasses.

We followed the Lewis & Clark Trail and stayed at Battle Ridge campground.  We walked up King's Hill finding some interesting plants like this Pacific Coral Root and many butterflies on the plentiful flowers.
Field Crescent

This whole trip from Alaska, Canada and into the U.S.  has had an abundance of Black-billed Magpies.  We couldn't resist another photo opportunity!
Vicki, Nate,Becky Abi, Jim, Rachel, Ty & Ida

In our two day visit at Livingston, MT. we enjoyed visiting Ty's nephew Nate and family, plus our sister-in-law Vicki, visiting from Florida.

An early start into Yellowstone National Park, staying ahead of the crowds, we enjoyed the wildlife.  We saw thousands of Bison, herds of Pronghorns and Elk, and one Gray Wolf half-heartedly chasing a herd of Pronghorns.

We skipped the geysers and paint pots and headed to the alpine areas of Bear Tooth Pass.  Ty searched diligently for Rosy Finches only finding Am. Pipits, Horned Larks and White-crowned Sparrows.

Eastward to Devil's Tower National Monument in northeastern Wyoming.  We took a mile and a half walk around the base of this 876 foot monolith before the crowds arrived.

There is a huge Prairie Dog "Town" on the grounds - they are very used to getting their photo taken.

We settled into the Black Hills Custer- Crazy Horse campground on a hot afternoon.   By 7pm the sky was darkening and thunder was rolling.  Lightning was a continuous strobe followed by torrential downpour and 3/4 inch hail that proved to be deafening as it hit the roof of the RV.  Rivers of mud and water rolled down the hills of the campground.  There was a three hour calm and at 1am came round two and more hail, thankfully no damage to our vehicle although others weren't so fortunate.

The sun shone bright next morning as we traversed the curving roads of the Black Hills State Forest through beautiful pine forests and rock tunnels that we just barely made it through.
We took photos of Mt. Rushmore before it opened and decided to skip the crowds again.

This Mountain Bluebird emerging from his morning bath met us as we went through the 20 mile wildlife loop at Custer State Park.

We found wandering herds of bison, many White-tailed deer including these twins, and burros that are the descendants of pack animals brought to work the mines but are now free to roam.

We drove to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, recent showers brought out the vivid colors in this unique landscape as well as many tiny toads.

The temperatures kept rising and hit 104 degrees by afternoon.  Too hot to settle down so we kept driving across South Dakota.  We saw flocks of Lark Buntings  along the highway.


We stayed at Snake Creek State Park on the Missouri River.  The wind of 30-40 mph continued through the night.

Driving through the remainder of SD into Iowa, we found a Com. Nighthawk that was resting on this fence post and our first of many, many Dickcissels.

Looking forward to Wisconsin and adding all the eastern birds to our yearly list.  Also looking forward to meeting with family and friends.

See you soon,  Ty & Ida Baumann

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