June 23 - Black Hills and Sage Brush
We met early with our guide for the day, Dwayne Weber, a biologist for the federal government at wind Cave which boarders the larger Custer State Park. We took breakfast and lunch with us to minimise the delays and as my good buddy Jay Hand and I say..."MTC"..."Maximise The Coverage."
We walked a trail through the Ponderosa Pine with White-winged Crossbill, Western Tanager, and a new bird for me, Pinyon Jay. The two jays were first heard calling from the ridge above, flew over our heads, and landed in the distant tree line. Not the best look but fun to hear them calling!
We stopped occasionally to look at the wildlife which included American Bison and many pronghorn at close range. We stopped at the corral used for the bison round-up in the fall to search for Say's Phoebe. Great looks at three phoebes fighting for territory.
We visited Wind Cave to witness the phenomenon of the barometric pressure difference that creates a wind as the cave "breaths." We headed west toward Wyoming and the sage lands in search of the Sage Thrasher and Brewer's Sparrow, the later of which preformed admirably.
Back into the hills, we passed by some great rock formations, delighted by "The Needle" and "Cathedral Rocks." Not to be missed!
Dwayne was a great guide and I am sure we all hope our paths will cross again. Our group had a nice dinner outside at the main lodge; great hotel, food, service, and setting under the stars!