There always seems to be some sort of magic in nature just before the sun comes up. The magic can be incredibly grand and expected or a total surprise. But some of the best are the small things, the moments in nature that reaches out and touches your soul. That was our experience a week back in the Badlands of South Dakota.
We had seen the normal groups of Rocky Mtn Bighorn Sheep along the rim, not a surprise for the time of year. I had told my friends to look for lambs as they drop them at this time (drop as in give birth). We stopped a couple of times to watch the ewes but no lambs insight. The Badlands is a great place for the Sheep as they can in a flash escape into its many ledges, canyons, and crevices. We kept on wiggling down the road photographing the spectacular landscape and critters but no lambs. But it was still early.
We were rounding the bend near the south end of the road. It was a locale I had photographed sheep before so I took my eyes off the road and looked over my shoulder. There were two ewes lying on the ridge. Knowing a little about their biology, I pulled over on the other side of the road and slowly walked back to see what was up. That’s when the magic of morning kissed our day!
Lying tightly up against their moms and not visible from the road were two newborn lambs. One still had its umbilical cord attached (though dry) so it was just heartbeats away from first wandering this planet. Well, we slowly, quietly set up to watch life unfold. For the next hour, I watched in amazement through the D6 / 180-400VR the lambs start to explore their new world.
The “oldest” of the two was full of wonder and one of the first things to greet it this morning was a group of Grackles on the ridge. It was not sure about them at all! It kept looking back at the ewe as to get some sort of reassurance that it was OK. Every time the birds moved, the lamb stopped dead in its tracks until finally, they flew off and its attention went elsewhere. When we last saw the two lambs, they had just finished running back up the sheer slope they had just run down, disappearing with the ewes over the top. Not before jumping and playing on that sheer slope that appeared near vertical to us. But to them, just a big playground to express their new found energies and footing. I’m grateful the once again Mother Nature had magic this morning to share with us, newborn lambs just a few heartbeats later.