09 August 2010


Tim and I took a break-neck speed trip to western South Dakota over the weekend for the ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH that has been in Spearfish Canyon since July 9.

Just like clockwork, the thrush started singing at 5:16 AM from across the road (the side with the house) and it was the ONLY bird singing for at least 15 minutes. Even though it was still too dark to see it, we could tell from the constant singing that it flew across the road and started moving up-stream. After about 1/2 hour of singing its full song, it began to sing less and less frequently. Over the next several hours, it would only sing small fragments of the full song from time to time.

Seeing the OBNT was another matter though. We all got quick glimpses here and there for a couple hours but it never cooperated for all of us. Finally after a couple hours of stalking, I was in the right place at the right time (9:24 am) for good looks and even an ID'able picture:

Spearfish Canyon was filled with a lot of other interesting things including Canyon Wrens, Violet-green Swallows, White-throated Swifts, Cordilleran Flycatchers, and this cooperative AMERICAN DIPPER:

Also, this RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER peeking from behind a tree was a new ABA photo bird for me:

We figured that since we drove 10+ hours just to get here, we'd be stupid not to bird a couple other canyons in the Black Hills. Some interesting things included LESSER GOLFINCH, GRAY JAYS, WESTERN TANAGER, etc. In one of these canyons, we had some RED CROSSBILLS fly in. We were both shocked at the size of the bill on this thing!
Another highlight was hearing a BAIRD'S SPARROW singing this late in the season southeast of Rapid City. Although we never got decent looks or pictures of the sparrow, I decided to model this COMMON NIGHTHAWK with the evening light instead:

I was happy to do some butterflying in a new location. A highlight for me was this WEIDEMEYER'S ADMIRAL in one of the canyons:

Also, this SMALL WOOD-NYMPH was another new butterfly for me. Unfortunately, it only landed once (and was quite a ways away when it did):

Definitely not shy was the swarm of COMMON CHECKERED-SKIPPERS along this roadside:

I'll admit, I haven't had time to try to ID this fritillary yet but I'll get to it eventually:

We didn't keep any form of a trip list but I figured I'd throw together what I remember for myself:

* = new ABA photo bird

Canada Goose
Teal species
Northern Pintail
Ruddy Duck
Wild Turkey
American White Pelican
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
American Coot
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Great Horned Owl
Common Nighthawk
White-throated Swift
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker (both groups)
Red-naped Sapsucker (*)
Western Wood-Pewee
Cordilleran Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Plumbeous Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
Gray Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Canyon Wren
American Dipper
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend's Solitaire
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush (*)
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
"Audubon's" Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
American Redstart
Western Tanager
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Baird's Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Song Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
"White-winged" Dark-eyed Junco
Black-headed Grosbeak
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Western Meadowlark
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total = 87 species (or so)