Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another quick trip to Antelope Island

I wanted another day to test out my new 500mm lens, so I headed off to Antelope Island. The forecast was for sunny skies and low winds, so I thought it would be nice to catch some of the migrating waterfowl at sunrise.

As you can tell from this picture, the sun is a good ways above the mountains, and yet it is cloudy and dark out.  Also, there is a good one foot chop on the Great Salt Lake.  Good call guys!  These are the same weathermen (and women) who screw up the snow forecasts all the time.
When my mom was here in early winter, we had to look long and hard to find this bird, a Chukar.  Now they are everywhere, sitting up on top of rocks so you can see them. He's actually a long ways off, but I sure do love having a nice super telephoto lens.
If you couldn't see them, they would start calling so that even a blind man could find them.
The bison were all over the island.  As usual, the males were off by themselves or in groups of two or three.  The ladies were in a pretty large herd.
I wonder if this is the same porcupine I saw in November.  He was in roughly the same spot. His fur and spikes seemed pretty and fluffy, but his scabby face is one only his mom could love.
He was gnawing the hell out of this tree.  His long, gnarly yellow teeth seemed tailor-made for the job.  I should have captured video of him moving around in the tree to find new branches. Given that this is how he lives, he really is a klutz.
I ended up seeing four coyotes.  They were in the same general area of the island, but they weren't traveling together.  Down by the water, they were hunting for birds or whatever dead thing washed in. Up in the grassland, they were hunting for mice, moles, or anything remotely similar.
I think this is a Golden Eagle.  I kept watching him, hoping he would dive on something, but he just floated around. 
My prize find for the day didn't result in a good picture, but it is my first photo of an owl.  He was tucked way back in the trees, and try as I might, there was no angle that got all the branches out of the way. To get this, I was sitting on a slope with my feet in the edge of a swamp.

It's a Great Horned Owl and if you haven't seen one, they are quite large, about two feet tall, with a 4 foot wingspan.
I'll head back later in the year to try and get him with his wife and hopefully, children. There are two other owl species living on the island, but I haven't found them yet.  During nesting season, they tend to hunker down and in the blustery winds everything was hiding.
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