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Keeping Track of Light and Life

May 11, 2022

This year’s spring journal marks a decade of keeping track of light and life returning to South Dakota as winter transitions out. Ironically, that first journal entry talked about one of the earliest spring arrivals I could remember at the time. This year, spring was delayed for as long as any I can remember. It wasn’t that we had a hard winter, but cool and downright cold temperatures coupled with the windiest April on record kept spring at bay in 2022. Even as I write this on the evening of May 10, most trees are just beginning to bud, plum brush is just starting to flower and there are no blooming lilacs yet. But those things will all come in time. They always do. I like to reflect on an apostle John quote in this season of light returning to our hemisphere: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Spring has arrived at last on the Northern Plains, and I couldn’t be happier!


 

April 2

The same evening I found the first pasqueflowers of the year in bloom (shown in last month’s column), I saw a migrating golden-crowned kinglet flitting through the underbrush near Lake Hanson just south of Alexandria.


 

April 9

I saw three Trumpeter swans west of Lake Hendricks in Brookings County as well as a few meadowlarks singing their hearts out.


 

April 15

The evening of Good Friday was clear and crisp, so I travelled to Highland Lutheran north of Garretson to line up the steeple with the setting sun.


 

April 17

On my return trip from visiting family for Easter, I took back roads through Hamlin and Clark counties and photographed a beautiful American Kestrel and what looked like an Ent waiving at me at sunset, but in reality was two cottonwoods close together, creating an interesting optical illusion.


 

April 23

Bloodroot wildflowers were just beginning to bloom at Union Grove State Park.


 

April 26

I drove to one of my latest “favorite locations” in eastern South Dakota, Jacobson Fen of rural Deuel County, and found pasqueflowers in bloom.


 

April 27

I stopped to see my niece Sadie’s favorite newborn, a week-old kitten.


 

April 30

After much-needed rain fell across the area, I found a newly emerged pasqueflower covered in raindrops in rural Brookings County.


 

May 2

The first cherry blossoms began to pop along the trail at Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon.


 

May 3

Dutchman’s breeches were blooming at Union Grove State Park.


 

May 5

On a cool, gray day, I looked for birds at Terrace Park in Sioux Falls. A female Northern cardinal posed on a magnolia tree just beginning to flower.


 

May 6

The first of the plum brush at Union Grove State Park was attracting pollinators like this Western honeybee. Also, the trout lily wildflower had just started opening along the hillside.


 

May 8

Carolina anemones were beginning to bloom along the Dells of the Big Sioux just outside Dell Rapids.


 

May 9

The warbler migration kicks in as an overnight storm caused what birders call “fallout,” which simply means the weather forced the migrators down to cover. Because of this I found my first ever Canada Warbler at Big Sioux Recreation Area. These birds winter in South America and breed in Canada. Quite the travelers!


 

May 10

I hiked Palisades State Park looking for migratory birds and was serenaded by this rose-breasted grosbeak. The waxing moon had risen and was directly behind the happy singer, so I readjusted the focus and captured that as well. Happy Spring to everyone!

 

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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