Northern Pintail drake at Farmington BayNorthern Pintail drake at Farmington Bay – Nikon D810, f9, 1/500, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4 x TC, natural light

I spent the yesterday morning photographing with two great friends at Antelope Island State Park and Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and had a wonderful time.

At Farmington Bay I missed a few shots of Northern Harriers in flight because I didn’t get focused on them in time but I was delighted to find a drake Northern Pintail where I could take frame filling images of him in his breeding plumage.

Drake Northern PintailDrake Northern Pintail – Nikon D810, f9, 1/500, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4 x TC, natural light

I think of all the ducks in North American that Northern Pintails look the most; for lack of a better word, distinguished. They are elegant and beautifully marked. I took tons of images of this drake and will have to spend quite a bit of time sorting through them.

Male American Kestrel perched on an antennaeMale American Kestrel perched on an antennae – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4 x TC, natural light, not baited

This male American Kestrel was also at Farmington Bay perched on a pickup antennae which seems like an odd place for a kestrel to perch but the pickup was parked close to a field and literally gave this tiny falcon a “bird’s eye view”.  He was also a fairly sticky bird and all three of us were able to get images of him before he flew to another spot.

Grazing American Bison on a January dayGrazing American Bison on a January day – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1000, ISO 320, -1.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm, FX mode, natural light

And earlier on Antelope Island we found a couple of American Bison bulls pushing their noses into the snow to uncover the dried grasses beneath it. I just can’t get enough bison in the snow images.

Bison bull grazing through the snowBison bull grazing through the snow – Nikon D810, f13, 1/400, ISO 320, -1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm, FX mode, natural light

I love the thick, dark winter coat of the bison against the pure white snow and those huge faces with snow-covered muzzles.

It was a wonderful morning spent with friends, birds, great views and wildlife.

Life is good.



  1. Phil Hodgkins January 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Hi, Mia,

    You have definitely stepped up your game! The Northern Pintails are exquisite, but the American Kestral—best I have ever seen. Sweet!!

  2. Jane Chesebrough January 4, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I love the abstracted reflections and pin sharp details of the pintail duck and the portrait of the kestrel.. Enjoy watching the bison too. All the best in the new year…

  3. Utahbooklover January 4, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Beautiful birds and majestic Bison to brighten up these cold winter days. Thanks for keeping up the good work when I would rather be inside reading by the fireplace. Wishing all who appreciate nature a good new year.

  4. Elephant's Child January 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    The water in those first shots looks like the best silk. And perfectly fits the duck.
    Another stunning day. Thank you.

  5. Shane Hedberg January 3, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I agree with you about the pintails. They gather in the thousands at the wildlife refuges in California’s Central Valley during the winer, and they are easily my favorite ducks to photograph even though they are so common. We get a few stragglers out on the coast, too.

    Love the bison photos, too. I wish we had wild bison in our area. We have elk, they’re pretty cool, too. Great shots, Mia!

  6. Larry Jordan January 3, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Mia you are such an amazing wildlife photographer, I always love visiting your site. The Northern Pintail, I agree, is probably the most elegant of ducks, and I love your photographs of this drake. The Bison are simply amazing and I can’t wait until the time comes when I can see one of these American icons in person. I must however, comment on the incredibly gorgeous shot of the male American Kestrel. Your exquisite photo of this specimen is as close as most people will ever get to realize a perfect view of this bird.

    Have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year, full of magnificent wildlife opportunities!

  7. Glen Fox January 3, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Of all the prairie waterfowl, the Pintail is by far the most elegant in my opinion. They are elegant on the water and in the air. I love them.

    You clearly had a wonderful photographic morning. I do envy the variety of photographic opportunities you have close at hand at this time of the year. You clearly have a wonderful back yard and know it and its inhabitants very well.

    Happy New Year Mia! Glen

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