Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Black Hills
Instead of following the major highways, my GPS took me through several back roads through the Black Hills of South Dakota to my bird training. Along the way I passed forests, lakes, and Mt Rushmore. I had to stop to get a picture of four presidents carved into a mountain as cheesy as it is, but was disappointed when they wanted $10 to get in. I got a crappy shot from the side of the highway instead, then went through the tourist trap of Custer, SD. I recommend looking at the comparison of old photographs from an 1874 Custer expedition and the modern day photos of the same spots at the Forest Service (also very free!). My favorite was a picture of a wagon train through scarcely covered forest and the modern photo of a road in the same spot winding through thick fire suppressed forests. It was like seeing ghosts in the old pictures.
I've been at the Whitney Preserve south of Hot Springs, SD for the last few days without phone or internet or internet on my blackberry! The place is quit beautiful though with a backdrop of tall hills covered in ponderosa pine and juniper, and so many new birds to be discovered. Clay-colored sparrow is abundant, giving a constant insect like buzz coming from grass and bushes, and I saw my first Harris sparrow this morning with a bright white throat unlike any other sparrow I've seen before.
When I saw my bird transects for Wyoming, I was really disappointed though. My organization gave me all the northeast Wyoming points which include some pretty spots, but I was looking forward to exploring western Wyoming. I might still get to a few western spots to survey for birds, and I plan on spending my days off looking for a place out there to move to.
I'm surrounded by biologists this week and I should be comfortable and in my element, but I can't stop thinking there is something else out there for me than bird statistics. I've been thinking I should go back to school for photography and writing classes. This is the dream...to have forty acres and a cabin, while writing novels and taking photos and making a real living out of it.