The light and clouds looked iffy this morning but Antelope Island didn’t disappoint when it came to bison and birds plus some dramatic light. After making the northern loop and seeing only a few birds that were close enough to photograph the southern end of the island started to call. I can’t recall how long it has been since I had been south of the Frary Peak Trail head but there was some light shining down there!
There were stormy skies to the north when the sun broke through and lit up a few bison on a hilltop with a huge flock a starlings flying around them.
I know a great many people don’t like starlings but the bison don’t mind them at all especially since the starlings will pick pests out of the thick coats of the bison. I have seen times when there have been around 25 – 30 of the starlings on the back of a single bison. It isn’t all the unusual to see flocks of starlings, cowbirds or blackbirds feeding on the ground either because the bison stir up insects. That doesn’t usually happen at this time of the year but it has been unusually warm here for “winter”.
I loved how dramatic the light was for the few minutes we photographed the bison & birds, it light up the hillside and the sky was moody looking above. The starlings didn’t stay put long before they would lift up, circle and come back around again.
At one point there was stream of the starlings flying in front of the bison at the top of the hill and I wish I had used just a touch more depth of field to get all of the birds, the bison and the grasses in sharp focus but I admit that I like the grasses being out of focus in this shot.
The murmuration of starlings near and above the bison was interesting to watch as they turned and the light flashed on their wings creating shapes in the sky. When I took this image the birds were almost in a ball shape. It wasn’t until I came home and looked at this frame on my monitor that I noticed that one of these birds is not like the others… not all of them are European Starlings.
Can you find the odd ball bird? I’ll post the location and ID below.
Life is good.
The ID is: Red-winged Blackbird and it is the bird that is closest to the left side of the frame. That lovely red epaulet gives it away!