Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another Life Bird

Jasper and I hadn't been back to Antelope Island in a while, so we packed up the camera and went for a morning visit.  I was really caught off guard by the early morning clouds and thunderstorms, which I don't think had been in the forecast.

I spent most of the morning on the causeway, shooting my bird of choice for the day, the American Avocet.  These birds are very interesting looking, especially in flight. It wasn't that much of a choice.  The only other birds were a few varieties of gulls.

I got lucky as the morning wore on.  The sun poked through the clouds for a bit and the improved light made for better views.
While a lot of the nesting birds hang out way off shore, the Avocets seem quite happy feeding right off the causeway.
There is an insect on the Great Salt Lake called the Brine Fly.  While they may make for good eating, too many is just too many.
I liked this one's look just as he was landing.  Once they got used to me being there, they came and went as they pleased.

I got lucky when this one flew past the small section of clear blue sky.
Tired of shooting one species of bird, I decided to do a quick drive around the north end of the island.  This is where you always see the bison and pronghorn, but I also tend to find coyote here.

Every trip for the past several years, I have looked for the Burrowing Owls.  I know they live on the island, but they can be tough to find. Sometimes they hang out in their burrows. Other times they sit on the ground where you have almost no chance of seeing them. Yesterday I got lucky and found three sitting in a tree.

Yes, I know there are only two in the photo, but one flew off before I could quietly, very quietly, get the car stopped in the right place, roll down the window, get that big lens out and start shooting.  While I was photographing these two, another two came out of the burrow and flew off.  This meant mom, dad, and three young ones.
Here's a closer view of an adult. I may just be paranoid, but I am pretty sure I was being watched.
I went looking to find where the others had flown off to.  I eventually found three of them, but only one would sit still long enough to have it's picture taken.
I drove off to give them some peace, but did a quick drive by on the way back off the island. One was back in the little tree and I couldn't help stopping for some more photos.  I got several with him staring right at me, but my favorite was when he watched a jet fly by.
While photographing the birds, I also stumbled on a few mammals.  I never could get close enough to the female Pronghorn with her two babies to get a good shot.  However, the bunnies were cooperating.  This one seemed a bit bashful.
I got so close to this one that my long lens wouldn't even focus.  This is an uncropped photo. Once I got home and looked at the picture, I felt sorry for this little guy.  He has one tick on his ear and two right above his eye.  That can't be fun.
My favorite mammal was this long-tailed weasel.  He was extremely fast, dodging from rock to bush to rock.  I gave up trying to find him and went back to photographing the birds.  I had my long lens on the tripod when I glanced down and saw him dash right over my feet.  I think he was toying with me. Perhaps it was a dare from another weasel.
By the time I could get my camera aimed the right direction and focused, he was gone.  Then he popped back up as though to say "Psych!"
More fun photography and my third life bird in two months, all of which were owls (Burrowing, Flammulated and Short Eared).




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