It has been a slow week bird-wise but never the less I’ve been out taking images of birds and mammals such as this grazing Bison bull near the Visitor Center on Antelope Island State Park with the Great Salt Lake and Promontory Point in the background.
Great Horned Owl
Then finding a Great Horned Owl in an unusual and unexpected location near a bridge on the cause way to Antelope Island State Park. There are some Rabbitbrush nearby, plenty of boulders and mud flats. I thought it was just a fluke and that the owl would quickly move on but I spotted the owl in that location again two days ago. This is a terrible image and I hope to get the owl in better light if it does stick around.
Coyote baring teeth
I think this Coyote was just urinating as it stopped in front of the pickup but I am not sure why it was baring its teeth in this frame at all.
The sweet calls of Horned Larks have been delighting me out on Antelope Island and in the west desert, this male was shaking its feathers after a very brief preening session.
Young Pronghorn Buck
This is a young Pronghorn buck that came so close to the pickup two days ago that I opted to just do portraits of him as he chewed on some vegetation.
Adult White-crowned Sparrow on a wild Rose
There are several wild Rose bushes along the gravel roads at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and at this time of the year I always hope to find sparrows perched on them because of the red rosehips, this image didn’t have the rose hips visible but I like the alert pose of the adult White-crowned Sparrow, the laciness of the leaves and the smooth background.
Just a few images from this past week.
Pronghorn buck in horn regrowth – Nikon D300, f10, 1/320, ISO 1000, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light
Yesterday some Pronghorns came so close to the vehicle that I had two choices; 1. grab the back up D200 with the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens attach and photograph the Pronghorn with it or, 2. Use the D300 with the 200-400mm VR + 1.4x TC attached and do close-ups. Since I have many fully body images I decided to do close-ups and I am glad that I did. The image above is 100% full frame and I was barely able to get the tips of the ears of the buck to fit.
Close up showing the horns of a male Pronghorn - Nikon D300, f10, 1/320, ISO 1000, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light
The Pronghorn rut season is over and the pronghorns are in the process of replacing the outer sheathing on their horns. The horns of Pronghorns are composed of a permanent slender, laterally flattened blade of bone which grows from the front of the skull that is covered by sheath of hairlike substance (keratin) that grows around the bony core that is shed and regrown annually.
In the image above the flattened blades of bone can be seen at the tips, notices how slender the horns are there. The hair-like keratin regrowth begins at the base of the horn and moves towards the tips. I find it fascinating that in this frame the hair-like keratin is plainly visible where the horns are regrowing and that it also shows the regrowth process is not yet complete.
Keratin is the substance that human hair and fingernails are composed of.
Adult Pronghorn Buck – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 800, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
This image shows a buck before the outer sheath has been shed, notice that his horns are relatively smooth, slightly shiny at the tips and show no signs of being “hairy”.
Pronghorns are the only North American mammal that retain their horns yet shed and replace the outer sheath annually.
More Pronghorn images
Early last week I thought that the Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) bucks on Antelope Island State Park might be in rut, later in the week a buck’s behavior confirmed that they are. For the next few weeks it ought to be more fun than usual photographing them.
Pronghorn does – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, natural light
There were several does in the harem…
Pronghorn yearling nibbling on Mullein- Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
Plus a few young Pronghorn that were born earlier this spring…
Keeping an eye on his harem – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
And this buck who kept a close eye on his harem.
Pronghorn yearling – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light
The fawns born this spring have sure grown a lot yet they are still pretty darn cute.
Alert Pronghorn buck – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light
Pronghorn bucks expend a lot of energy during the rut keeping the does in his harem close to him and by fending off the other males.
Pronghorn buck chasing his does – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light
When one of the does or fawns breaks loose from the harem the buck will chase after them to get them back into the herd.
Pronghorn buck passing by – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light
I think it is awesome to watch the powerful muscles of Pronghorn as they run, they are the fastest land mammal in North America.
Buck running after his harem – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light
When this buck’s harem ran across the road he followed them close on their heels.
My mother’s visit went great, she saw many lifer birds and wild animals, she loved seeing Utah and spending time with me. I hated to see her leave.
I’ll be slowly catching up on viewing your blogs and images and replying to the wonderful comments you have left here while I was enjoying her company.
More Pronghorn images
I haven’t posted a Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) for a while and thought I would share this one taken earlier this week on Antelope Island State Park in northern Utah today.
Pronghorn doe in a field of Moth Mullein – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light
Last year at this time the island seemed to be covered with wild Sunflowers, this year it seems that the Moth Mulleins are the biggest bloomers for this time of the year. I thought this doe looked beautiful in a field of small yellow flowers.
More Pronghorn images
Outside my window the winds are howling this morning and there is a thick layer of gray clouds hanging low in the sky. It isn’t a good day to be out in the field so I have been going through my image archives and pulled out two images of a Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) doe from last spring to post. The green grasses and yellow blossomed Gray’s Biscuitroot (Lomatium grayi) remind me that this weather will soon be gone and spring growth will appear.
Pronghorn doe in Spring – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 400, +1.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 330mm, natural light
This Pronghorn doe was one of several does feeding on a slope that had new grass poking out of the ground and dotted with Gray’s Bicuitroot in bloom on Antelope Island State Park. Gray’s Biscuitroot are among some of the earliest blooming plants on the island and the Pronghorns seem partial to it. I guess after a winter of foraging on dried vegetation the fresh leaves must taste good. Sort of like me and the difference between store-bought tomatoes in winter and the garden grown, sun-ripened ones that I enjoy so much in the summer.
Pronghorn doe nibbling on Gray’s Biscuitroot – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light
As I recall the day I photographed this doe there were clouds overhead which is why I used some positive exposure compensation, had it been sunny I would not have needed that at all.
I enjoy looking through my archives on days like today, they bring back so many great memories of time spent in the field with the birds and animals, camping trips out in the wilderness and watching the sunrise with a steaming mug of coffee in my hands. Windswept grassy plains, marshy valleys, streams lined with willows, sandy deserts, red rock walls in the canyons, Pinyon Pines in the high country and huge open skies. The smell of bacon cooking in the crisp air. The sounds of the night. Sitting on a sun warmed rock and contemplating the glorious wonders of the natural world. Sunlight dancing on a crystal clear mountain lake or the musical sound of water bubbling over rocks in a stream bed.
Soon. Very soon.
More Pronghorn images