God I love the month of May. It’s the absolute perfect time of year in South Dakota, both in terms of weather, and especially in terms of birding! All the summer residents are arriving or have arrived, and we have SO many cool migrants moving through the state on their way north.
Today I got up before dawn and wanted to bird the morning hours. I arrived at Newton Hills State Park just before dawn, and right before I even pulled into the park, I saw a big shape in the trees on the side of the road. A Barred Owl! Only the 4th time I’ve seen them in the state, Barred Owls are few and far between in a state better known for its grasslands than forests. WONDERFUL way to start the day, particularly since it was such a photo-cooperative bird! The rest of the morning was spectacular as well…some photos from the day below.
Only the 4th time I’ve seen them in South Dakota, a gorgeous Barred Owl right before sunrise. He was in a forest clearing near the entrance to Newton Hills State Park in Lincoln County.
There’s a home on the edge of Hartford, South Dakota that has 3 Purple Martin houses. They seem to reliable hold Purple Martins every year, and this year was no exception. Beautiful birds, both in appearance and in song. It’s tough to get the good light on them though so you can see the purple! This is probably the best Purple Martin photo I’ve ever been able to get.
THIS is the sound of spring to me…a tiny Ovenbird, singing it’s heart out from the middle of the forest. There were many Ovenbirds singing at Newton Hills State Park this morning.
A Wilson’s Phalarope stretching its wings. Beautiful birds, particularly when you see them in large groups doing their “spinning” behavior at the top of the water as they feed.
A Virginia Rail, perhaps better named “Swamp Ghost”. I hear them all the time! Seeing them is another matter, but usually if you hang out in an area where they’re calling, you’ll eventually get a glimpse of one moving through the marsh.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler, by far the most common warbler we get moving through. This guy is a preview to the “big show”. Many Yellow-rumped Warblers are around right now, but not many other warbler species. That will change in the coming days…warbler migration in South Dakota can be spectacular!