Postcard from The USA – Mount Rushmore — Have Bag, Will Travel

More and more we sensed that we were creating a truly great thing, and after a while all of us old hands became truly dedicated to it and determined to stick to it.

OTTO “RED” ANDERSON, DRILLER AND ASSISTANT CARVER

With nearly three million visitors from all over the world coming to Mount Rushmore each year, we knew we wanted to be there — standing in awe of the art and craftsmanship involved in creating one of the most visited sites in America.

From South Dakota Highway 244 leading to Mount Rushmore, we caught side glimpses of George Washington. Washington’s was the first figure started and the most prominent visage of the four presidents memorialized in an arrangement conceived by South Dakota historian Doane Robinson and executed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum

via Postcard from The USA – Mount Rushmore — Have Bag, Will Travel

 

 

National Parks Badges Puzzle 

 

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

Hike & Go Seek – Badlands

 

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South Dakota can generally be divided into three regions: eastern South Dakota, western South Dakota, and the Black Hills. The Missouri River serves as a boundary in terms of geographic, social, and political differences between eastern and western South Dakota. The geography of the Black Hills, long considered sacred by Native Americans, differs from its surroundings to such an extent it can be considered separate from the rest of western South Dakota. At times the Black Hills are combined with the rest of western South Dakota, and people often refer to the resulting two regions divided by the Missouri River as West River and East River.

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

 

Badlands National Park

 

Eastern South Dakota generally features higher precipitation and lower topography than the western part of the state. Smaller geographic regions of this area include the Coteau des Prairies, the Dissected Till Plains, and the James River Valley. The Coteau des Prairies is a plateau bordered on the east by the Minnesota River Valley and on the west by the James River Basin.  Further west, the James River Basin is mostly low, flat, highly eroded land, following the flow of the James River through South Dakota from north to south.The Dissected Till Plains, an area of rolling hills and fertile soil that covers much of Iowa and Nebraska, extends into the southeastern corner of South Dakota. Layers deposited during the Pleistocene epoch, starting around two million years ago, cover most of eastern South Dakota.  These are the youngest rock and sediment layers in the state, the product of several successive periods of glaciation which deposited a large amount of rocks and soil, known as till, over the area.

 

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National Parks 18″ x 24″ Collector’s Series Puzzle 

 

Due to a higher elevation and level of precipitation, the Black Hills ecology differs significantly from the plains.  The mountains are thickly blanketed by various types of pines, including ponderosa and lodgepole pines, as well as spruces. Black Hills mammals include deer, elk (wapiti), bighorn sheep, mountain goats, pine marten, and mountain lions, while the streams and lakes contain several species of trout.

 

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

 

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Columbia Waterproof Hiking Shoes

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Hike & Go Seek – South Dakota

 

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South Dakota can generally be divided into three regions: eastern South Dakota, western South Dakota, and the Black Hills. The Missouri River serves as a boundary in terms of geographic, social, and political differences between eastern and western South Dakota. The geography of the Black Hills, long considered sacred by Native Americans, differs from its surroundings to such an extent it can be considered separate from the rest of western South Dakota. At times the Black Hills are combined with the rest of western South Dakota, and people often refer to the resulting two regions divided by the Missouri River as West River and East River.

Trekking The National Parks: The Family Board Game (Second Edition)

Trekking the National Parks Family Board Game

 

Badlands National Park

 

Eastern South Dakota generally features higher precipitation and lower topography than the western part of the state. Smaller geographic regions of this area include the Coteau des Prairies, the Dissected Till Plains, and the James River Valley. The Coteau des Prairies is a plateau bordered on the east by the Minnesota River Valley and on the west by the James River Basin.  Further west, the James River Basin is mostly low, flat, highly eroded land, following the flow of the James River through South Dakota from north to south.The Dissected Till Plains, an area of rolling hills and fertile soil that covers much of Iowa and Nebraska, extends into the southeastern corner of South Dakota. Layers deposited during the Pleistocene epoch, starting around two million years ago, cover most of eastern South Dakota.  These are the youngest rock and sediment layers in the state, the product of several successive periods of glaciation which deposited a large amount of rocks and soil, known as till, over the area.

 

B07PC22WJ8

National Parks 18″ x 24″ Collector’s Series Puzzle 

 

Due to a higher elevation and level of precipitation, the Black Hills ecology differs significantly from the plains.  The mountains are thickly blanketed by various types of pines, including ponderosa and lodgepole pines, as well as spruces. Black Hills mammals include deer, elk (wapiti), bighorn sheep, mountain goats, pine marten, and mountain lions, while the streams and lakes contain several species of trout.

Prairie Dogs of South Dakota

Prairie dogs are herbivorous burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. The five species are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in North America. In Mexico, prairie dogs are found primarily in the northern states, which lie at the southern end of the Great Plains: northeastern Sonora, north and northeastern Chihuahua, northern Coahuila, northern Nuevo León, and northern Tamaulipas. In the United States, they range primarily to the west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales. They are also found in the Canadian Prairies. Despite the name, they are not actually canines.  These two that I took a picture of are from South Dakota.

Highly social, prairie dogs live in large colonies or “towns” and collections of prairie dog families that can span hundreds of acres. The prairie dog family groups are the most basic units of its society.  Members of a family group inhabit the same territory. Family groups of black-tailed and Mexican prairie dogs are called “coteries”, while “clans” are used to describe family groups of white-tailed, Gunnison’s, and Utah prairie dogs.  Although these two family groups are similar, coteries tend to be more closely knit than clans. Members of a family group interact through oral contact or “kissing” and grooming one another.  They do not perform these behaviors with prairie dogs from other family groups. (wiki/prairie_dog)

Beautiful Badlands of South Dakota

Here’s what 47 million years of deposition…tossed with a steady rate of erosion…looks like.

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. (https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm)

Fabulous Birds of South Dakota

“Birds are the most popular group in the animal kingdom. We feed them and tame them and think we know them. And yet they inhabit a world which is really rather mysterious.”  David Attenborough

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Let’s start with the state bird, the colorful Ring-Necked Pheasant which name is used for the species as a whole in North America and also the collective name for a number of subspecies and their intergrades that have white neck rings.

It is a well-know and of regional importance perhaps the most widespread and ancient one in the whole world. The common pheasant is one of the world’s most hunted birds; it has been introduced for that purpose to many regions, and is also common on game farms where it is commercially bred. Ring-necked pheasants in particular are commonly bred and were introduced to many parts of the world; the game farm stock, though no distinct breeds have been developed yet, can be considered semi-domesticated. It is one of only three U.S. state birds that is not a species native to the United States.

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The amazing American Avocet measures has a wingspan of 27 – 30 inches and weighs on average about 12 ounces.  The bill is black, pointed, and curved slightly upwards towards the tip. It is long, surpassing twice the length of the avocet’s small, rounded head. Like many waders, the avocet has long, slender legs and slightly webbed feet.  The legs are a pastel grey-blue, giving it its colloquial name, blue shanks. The plumage is black and white on the back, with white on the underbelly. During the breeding season, the plumage is brassy orange on the head and neck, continuing somewhat down to the breast. After the breeding season, these bright feathers are swapped out for white and grey ones. 

 

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The sandhill crane is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane  with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.

The sandhill crane was formerly placed in the genus Grus, but a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010 found that the genus, as then defined, was polyphyletic.  In the resulting rearrangement to create monophyletic genera, four species, including the sandhill crane, were placed in the resurrected genus Antigone that had originally been erected by the German naturalist Ldwig Reichenbach in 1853.  The specific epithet canadensis is the modern Latin word for “Canadian”.

 

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. Six species have been recorded in South Dakota.

The western grebe is the largest North American grebe.  It is black-and-white, with a long, slender, swan-like neck and red eyes. It is easily confused with Clark’s grebe, which shares similar features, body size, behavior and habitat, and hybrids are known. Western grebes nest in colonies on lakes that are mixed with marsh vegetation and open water. Western Grebe nests are made of plant debris and sodden materials, and the nest building begins roughly around late April through June. The construction is done by both sexes and is continued on throughout laying and incubation. This species of waterbirds is widespread in western North America, so there is no specific place of abundance. Its subspecies, Clark’s grebe generally populate more of the southern part of North America.  The western grebe has black around the eyes and a straight greenish-yellow bill whereas the Clark’s grebe has white around the eyes and an up-turned bright yellow bill. The downy young of Western are grey; Clark’s downy young are white.

 

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Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs, and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically colored to resemble bark or leaves. Four species have been recorded in South Dakota.

The common nighthawk is a medium-sized crepuscular or nocturnal bird of the Americas within the nightjar family, whose presence and identity are best revealed by its vocalization. Typically dark (grey, black and brown), displaying cryptic colouration and intricate patterns, this bird is difficult to spot with the naked eye during the day. Once aerial, with its buoyant but erratic flight, this bird is most conspicuous. The most remarkable feature of this aerial insectivore is its small beak that belies the massiveness of its mouth. Some claim appearance similarities to owls. With its horizontal stance and short legs, the common nighthawk does not travel frequently on the ground, instead preferring to perch horizontally, parallel to branches, on posts, on the ground or on a roof. The males of this species may roost together but the bird is primarily solitary. The common nighthawk shows variability in territory size.

This caprimulgid has a large, flattened head with large eyes; facially it lacks rictal bristles. The common nighthawk has long slender wings that at rest extend beyond a notched tail. There is noticeable barring on the sides and abdomen, also white wing-patches.

 

Here are some good resources if you like birding:

         1591934060

  National Geographic Birds               Birds of the Midwest

Beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota

South Dakota's Black Hills.The Black Hills, in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, consists of 1.2 million acres of forested hills and mountains, approximately 110 miles long and 70 miles wide, a hikers and naturalist paradise.

The Black Hills rise from the adjacent grasslands into a ponderosa pine forest. Described as an “Island in the Plains,” the Forest has diverse wildlife and plants reaching from the eastern forests to the western plains. The Forest is a multiple-use Forest with activities ranging from timber production, grazing, to hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mining, wildlife viewing and many others.

The four seasons offer amazing opportunities to view and enjoy nature on the Black Hills National Forest. In the springtime, flowers abound on the forest floor. Fall colors  brighten the hills and white winter snow illuminates the surroundings. Forest lakes glisten bright blue on summer days, and summer nights offer magnificent opportunities for star gazing.

Enjoy yourself while viewing the many rugged rock formations, canyons and gulches, open grassland parks, tumbling streams, and deep blue lakes.

 

Rock Climbing

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/blackhills

first birding expedition 2020 — The Write Side – South Dakota!

We began at 6:50 a.m. on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 from our home in Madison, (Lake County) South Dakota. The sunrise was at 7:11 a.m. and we were hoping to get some good pictures of the sunrise as we headed out of town. On the highway near our old farmhouse we first saw a Great […]

via first birding expedition 2020 — The Write Side