Wednesday, April 9, 2008

after the storm

(click on pictures to enlarge them)
Since the sun had come out Monday morning, Joel & I decided to go to Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge even though it was still below freezing -- as you can see from this fluffed up House Sparrow outside my window.

When we arrived at the auto-tour road at Big Stone, we found the gate locked. As we turned around our car, a worker showed up and told us that they would open in a few days. That didn't do us much good since we had to leave the following morning.

As we drove around the refuge on various gravel & paved roads we spotted numerous ducks (too far to photograph), a Bald Eagle high in the air, and several hawks (again too far away). We did come upon these Ring-billed Gulls working a field.

I did not use a map to figure out where we were and before long we were back in Millbank. (I don't know how we did that since I didn't remember crossing the river.) The South Dakota gulls had found some water, even though it was surrounded by snow and ice.

In this field I spotted a Killdeer. Can you find it? Every time I took my eye away from the viewfinder it was quite an effort to locate it again.

Disappointed by the lack of photo opportunities, back at the Abbey I went for a walk around one of the ponds and was greeted by this bunny.

Most of the pond surface was covered by ice; by late afternoon, much of the snow had melted.

I'm not that good at identifying ducks; a female Lesser Scaup, maybe?

I know that generally we are not supposed to shoot into the sun, but I couldn't resist the sparkles in the water.

American Tree Sparrow

and a pair of Dark-eyed Juncos

I'm anxious to get back to Big Stone when there is more open water and, especially, more birds within the range of my lens. (These pictures were taken with Canon's f4 300mm & f5.6 400mm lenses. On some I added the 1.4x converter.)