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Purple Martin Photos

Photography by Terry Sohl

My Favorite: A lesson in humility...that's how you can best describe trying to take photos of swallows in flight. When it works though the rewards can be high! The morning of May 10th, 2020 was unseasonably cold, with temperatures hovering right at the freezing point. Needless to say insects aren't fond of that, so that kind of weather is hard on insect-eating birds like swallows. At Lake Lakota in Newton Hills State Park (South Dakota), there were all 5 species of swallow in South Dakota, huddling together on the rails of the fishing dock. About an hour after sunrise they finally started to move, with behavior I've seen at other times when the weather is that cold. They'll fly extremely low over the surface of the water, looking for flying insects. There must be some hardy buggies that hatch, even when temps struggle to reach 40.  Getting the photo? It was basically taking about 500 shots and picking out the only one with any redeeming qualities.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 4 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1

June 2nd, 2005

Perry Nature Area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2

June 2nd, 2005

Perry Nature Area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3

May 10th, 2009

Big Sioux Recreation Area, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 4

July 5th, 2012

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 6 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 7 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 8 - Stelgidopteryx serripennis 

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5

May 22nd, 2010

Blue Mound State Park, Minnesota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 6

May 10th, 2020

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 7

May 10th, 2020

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 8

May 10th, 2020

Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota

Click here for the species description page for the Northern Rough-winged Swallow


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