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They Are A-Changin’

May 12, 2021

The transition from winter to spring this year has been interesting. There wasn’t much snow to melt, but that didn’t mean winter was ready to leave. Most of April was a tug-of-war between warm and cold with strong winds being the only common theme. Early April saw a day with temperatures reaching the 80s followed by a very active thunderstorm. In early May, mornings of frost and snow still lingered across large portions of the state. We Dakotans are used to such things. The good news is that spring eventually wins out. The subsequent return of life to our lands is always a joyous sight. For the last nine years, I have endeavored to journal the transition between seasons in this space. Looking back over the column’s imagery and dates, it is interesting to see how each year played out. This particular spring has been dry — far too dry for many of us. So here’s to a wet, late spring and a happy summer to come!


March 19

The evening before the first day of spring found me in rural Lincoln County looking due west down a ribbon of road with the sun setting almost perfectly above it.


March 22

Taking a chance, I traveled to my favorite pasqueflower patch in Hanson County to see if our state flower had appeared. A few had, including lovely bouquet just opening to greet the world. On the way home, a signature South Dakota sunset colored the sky in western Minnehaha County.


March 28

I took my macro lens to Newton Hills State Park in search of snow trillium in bloom. I found a few, including one that had retained frost melt at the base of the bloom. I also found an intriguing ground snail shell in the leaf litter.


April 4

An early Easter found me on the road in rural Hand County where sandhill cranes foraged in a corn field during a brief stop on their spring migration.


April 5

A loud and boisterous spring thunderstorm rolled through southeastern South Dakota complete with rainbows and sharp lightning.


April 11

I spotted and photographed more pasqueflower blooms while traveling the backroads of Deuel County.


April 17

I spent some time watching waterfowl and a pair of kingfishers along the east fork of the Vermillion River in Lake County when a bald eagle swooped in and caused the ducks to scramble.


April 18

I watched pollinators, including this mining bee, enjoy bloodroot wildflower blooms at Union Grove State Park and spotted my first butterfly of the spring. A mourning cloak soaked up the sun at Terrace Park in Sioux Falls.


April 21

Three tom turkeys were strutting their stuff just south of Garretson in the evening light.


April 27

I visited a friend’s place in rural Turner County where I was entertained by month-old lambs and days-old barn kittens.


April 28

A ruby-crowned kinglet allowed me to take his portrait in an ornamental tree just beginning to bloom at Terrace Park in Sioux Falls.


April 29

Tulips in bloom along a Sioux Falls boulevard are always a sure sign that spring is truly upon us.


May 1

I traveled to Hartford Beach State Park along Big Stone Lake in Roberts County to do some birding and hiking and found Canadian white violets just beginning to unfurl on the forest floor.


May 2

While walking the trails of the Sioux Falls Outdoor Campus, I spotted a snapping turtle in the shallows.


May 4

The lovely sight and sound of yellow warblers returning highlighted an evening hike at Newton Hills State Park.


May 8

Much-needed rain fell throughout the state, including these drops on blades of grass in my front lawn.


May 9

I spotted a lone prairie smoke wildflower just about ready to bloom at the Jacobson Fen Preserve in rural Deuel County.


May 10

I hiked Palisades State Park searching for migratory warblers and found one of my favorites, a Magnolia warbler, in a chokecherry thicket with blooms setting. The Magnolia warbler was the first one to really catch my attention many springs ago. Going “warbling” in May has become a favorite pastime.

Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midco he is often on the road photographing South Dakota’s prettiest spots. Follow Begeman on his blog.


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