Resting Mule Deer buck – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/400, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in
We went north to Bear River National Wildlife Refuge this morning because Antelope Island State Park is closed on Thanksgiving and I was hopeful that we’d see some great birds there due to some recent reports from other people who have gone there this past week. Two Ross’s Geese had been seen and photographed there and I would have loved to have photographed them. I say loved because I could not find them. I did see an Adult Bald Eagle, several Northern Harriers, a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and a single Rough-legged Hawk but they were all too far away. I saw two Western Grebes, some Pied-billed and Eared Grebes that were also too far away. Way out on the water I could see flocks of Ruddy Ducks, Gadwalls and Northern Shovelers and even further away two Tundra Swans. Closer up were some Common Coots and Northern Pintail duck drakes but the Pintails were very nervous, I would be too because today is one of the biggest days for duck hunting in Utah.
The shorter version of the long paragraph above is “Bird photography sucked today”.
So, my best shots of the day were of this resting Mule Deer buck that I almost missed spotting because he blended in so well with the habitat. I wish his antlers stood out better from the dried Pigweed behind him but he is still a handsome buck.
More Mule Deer images
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
Mule Deer buck – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light
Two days ago while looking for birds to photograph on Antelope Island State Park this Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) came into view. Their velvet is gone from their antlers and rut will soon be in full swing. Last year every time I saw two bucks fighting they were too far away to get presentable images, maybe this year the action will happen a little closer.
Muley on a rocky hillside – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 200mm, natural light
There are many older bucks on the island with larger racks but I think this Muley is quite regal looking and this buck won’t stop here.
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