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A dedicated robin finishing up her nest on the edge of Elmwood Park in northwest Sioux Falls.
A dedicated robin finishing up her nest on the edge of Elmwood Park in northwest Sioux Falls.
An orange crowned warbler deep in a flowering plum thicket.
An orange crowned warbler deep in a flowering plum thicket.
An evening view of Newton Hills State Park’s hillside woodscape.
An evening view of Newton Hills State Park’s hillside woodscape.
A curious northern cardinal in blooming plum brush at Elmwood Park in Sioux Falls.
A curious northern cardinal in blooming plum brush at Elmwood Park in Sioux Falls.
A bluejay with a bee it had just caught at Union Grove State Park.
A bluejay with a bee it had just caught at Union Grove State Park.
Lilac blossoms on the high hill of Union Grove State Park. The smell of lilac on a spring breeze is one of life’s small but truly wonderful pleasures.
Lilac blossoms on the high hill of Union Grove State Park. The smell of lilac on a spring breeze is one of life’s small but truly wonderful pleasures.
A painted admiral butterfly soaking up the spring sunshine at Union Grove State Park.
A painted admiral butterfly soaking up the spring sunshine at Union Grove State Park.
This clear winged hummingbird moth was enjoying the lilacs even more than me.
This clear winged hummingbird moth was enjoying the lilacs even more than me.
A blue-winged warbler along Sargeant Creek at Newton Hills State Park.
A blue-winged warbler along Sargeant Creek at Newton Hills State Park.
The color of new life at Newton Hills State Park.
The color of new life at Newton Hills State Park.
A black-throated green warbler at the Dells of the Big Sioux near Dell Rapids.
A black-throated green warbler at the Dells of the Big Sioux near Dell Rapids.
Early morning mist rising off the Big Sioux from one of the new observation decks at Good Earth State Park.
Early morning mist rising off the Big Sioux from one of the new observation decks at Good Earth State Park.
A mourning cloak butterfly backlit by the afternoon sun at Union Grove State Park.
A mourning cloak butterfly backlit by the afternoon sun at Union Grove State Park.
A yellow warbler checking out the photographer at Beaver Creek Nature Area near Brandon.
A yellow warbler checking out the photographer at Beaver Creek Nature Area near Brandon.
A Monarch butterfly refueling at Beaver Creek Nature Area. Its wings were battered and worn, which made me wonder if it came all the way up from overwintering in Mexico.
A Monarch butterfly refueling at Beaver Creek Nature Area. Its wings were battered and worn, which made me wonder if it came all the way up from overwintering in Mexico.
A Baltimore oriole picking food from the new buds at Beaver Creek Nature Area.
A Baltimore oriole picking food from the new buds at Beaver Creek Nature Area.
One of my favorite warblers, a magnolia warbler, in the shadows and sunlight of Palisades State Park near Garretson.
One of my favorite warblers, a magnolia warbler, in the shadows and sunlight of Palisades State Park near Garretson.
A blooming eastern columbine growing right up against the Sioux quartzite walls of Palisades State Park’s canyon.
A blooming eastern columbine growing right up against the Sioux quartzite walls of Palisades State Park’s canyon.
Eastern tiger swallow-tail wings resting on a new dandelion on the floor of Palisades State Park’s canyon.
Eastern tiger swallow-tail wings resting on a new dandelion on the floor of Palisades State Park’s canyon.
An unknown grass in bloom with a columbine’s color as a background at Palisades State Park.
An unknown grass in bloom with a columbine’s color as a background at Palisades State Park.
Evening light on a resting northern rough-winged swallow at Palisades State Park.
Evening light on a resting northern rough-winged swallow at Palisades State Park.
A new-to-me wildflower found amongst the stony soil of the Dells of the Big Sioux. It is Phemeranthus parviflorus (Small-flowered Fameflower or Sunbright or Prairie Fameflower).
A new-to-me wildflower found amongst the stony soil of the Dells of the Big Sioux. It is Phemeranthus parviflorus (Small-flowered Fameflower or Sunbright or Prairie Fameflower).
A ruby throated hummingbird at the Dells of the Big Sioux.
A ruby throated hummingbird at the Dells of the Big Sioux.
The stamen and petals of a prairie rose at the Dells of the Big Sioux.
The stamen and petals of a prairie rose at the Dells of the Big Sioux.

Farewell to Spring

Jun 28, 2017

Summer is upon us once again. It really wasn’t that long ago that I saw the last of the snow on the ground. May 3 to be exact. It was up in the ditch near West Nidaros Lutheran as a spring rainbow formed over the steeple after an early evening rainshower. Meteorologic summer spans June, July and August, but my calendar tells me the astronomical first day of summer was June 21. The difference is the former goes by temperature and the latter by the position of the earth in relation to the sun, but that’s all a little too technical for what I wanted to share this month. Let’s get back to photography.

Spring and autumn have always been my favorite seasons. Nothing against summer and winter (except for mosquitos and frostbite, I guess). This particular spring was special. I was able to spend more time than any previous year following the annual warbler migration in a handful of southeastern South Dakota parks. I saw three species I’d never seen before, as well as a couple of old favorites. It is no easy feat to capture a decent image of those little bundles of energy as they cruise the canopies looking for insects, so getting a good photo always feels like a big win.

While out and about in the woodlands, hilltops and creek bottoms, I was constantly surprised by wonders beyond the world of birding. The return of butterflies and spring blossoms are a great opportunity to break out the macro lens. Getting close to butterflies in the trees or blossoms in the breeze requires patience and a stick-to-it attitude — traits I don’t normally exhibit in the world outside of photography, unfortunately. Many times, I’d get lost in the moment only to realize I’d just spent a half hour waiting for a Monarch butterfly to land on just the right flower bud in just the right light. Even so, I’ve always felt that it was time well spent. Focusing on the beauty of nature has a way of melting away daily cares and concerns. I’m not the first to say this, nor will I be the last, but drinking in the wonders of nature is truly good medicine both for the mind and the soul … and the photographer.

This column is sort of a long look back at the spring of 2017 for me. Here are 24 images of my favorite moments and memories, from having a blue-winged warbler close enough (and long enough) for me to take his portrait at Newton Hills State Park to finding a new (to me) wildflower while hiking the Dells of the Big Sioux, the season. The season did not disappoint. So, farewell spring in South Dakota. I’m happy I was able spend such quality time with you this time. Can’t wait to see you again!

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

Comments

08:05 am - Wed, July 5 2017
Kathleen McMillan said:
Such wonderful photos! Thank you, Christian!
09:02 pm - Wed, July 5 2017
Jim Rygg said:
This is a great collection of photos. Thank you Mr. Begeman for sharing them with us. Keep up the good work, and keep it coming to SD Magazine.

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