This sandhill crane sighting was one of the highlights of a recent fun outing in Yellowstone National Park.
These graceful, long-legged cranes may stand over four feet in height, and can often be found sauntering through fields in search of food near shallow marshes. Coloration is technically pale gray, but they often have a rust color from preening themselves with muddy bills. A red head crest along with an unforgettable mating call makes them easily identifiable.
Homestead ruins near Moore, a berg nestled in the lonely grasslands north of the Snowy Mountains of central Montana.
White grain elevators contrast brightly against a dark sky
Burlington Northern taking on the storm
Spring cottonwood stand along Yellowstone River
Phone lines and gravel converge toward a dramatic sky
Fence post along Brohaugh Road
Sun rays and a clearing sky chase the storm away
Rainbow pano on Brohaugh Road
Is the pot of gold hidden behind a fence post?
Cropped color bands viewed from afar through a telephoto lens
The storm has passed, and all is peaceful and green once again
Last weekend brought the first severe thunderstorm of the season to the Billings area. Although no tornadoes were spotted, the rotating cell dropped 60-mph winds and golf ball hail that destroyed shingles, windows, and siding all over town. We were returning from a weekend trip in Wyoming and avoided damage to our car by taking an alternate route, pretending to be storm chasers along a country back road south of the town of Laurel. In the aftermath of the storm, we were treated to a remarkable double rainbow spanning the horizon.
Golden Pea, or possibly Prairie Golden Banner in late April at Weatherman Draw
Shooting Star in May atop the Billings Rimrocks
Larkspur in May near Billings
Alberta penstemon in May in the Pryor Mountains
Sand Lilly in early May on the Billings rimrocks
Shooting Star in May near Billings
Field Chickweed in early May on the Billings rimrocks
False Dandelion in early May atop the Billings Rimrocks
This selection comes from our weekend wanderings around the rimrock bluffs west of Billings, Montana. The prairie wildflowers are exploding into color right now with each day bringing more varieties. Caption ID’s were sourced from the excellent field guide, Wildflowers of Montana, by Donald Anthony Schiemann.
Indian Paintbrush in April at Weatherman Draw
Unidentified yellow flowers in early April at Weatherman Draw [Please help identify this flower by posting to comments]
Unidentified yellow flowers in late April at Weatherman Draw [Please help identify this flower by posting to comments]
Phlox in May in the Pryor Mountains
Further to Part One of this post, the prairie wildflowers are beginning to come into bloom. Most of the species featured here could be found sprouting within a few square feet of each other. After a challenging winter, it is always so inspiring to see these little signs of Spring and happier weather on the horizon.