There was a bit of light yesterday after a cloudy start to the morning and that meant a quick trip out to Antelope Island just to shake off the cabin fever. The light was a bit iffy at first and when I found and heard my first of the year Long-billed Curlew I didn’t get any great images of it because of the low light, but I was excited to welcome the curlews back. I have missed them.
The best bird photography opportunity of the day happened when I spotted a Burrowing Owl near its burrow and I took advantage of the nice light to take quite a few images of the owl framed by grasses and blooming Red-stem Filaree.
Even though we have some Burrowing Owls who overwinter here in northern Utah most of them are migratory and have begun to return to the island to pair up, mate and raise their young. At many of the burrows that I am aware of now I can usually see two owls near the entrance to the burrows. I did not see a mate for the owl I photographed though, it may not have found a mate yet or the mate may have been inside the burrow.
I like it when they turn their heads so far they can see over their backs. Imagine if we could do that.
This owl looked around often and seemed to be paying attention to something on the hillside beyond where I sat in a vehicle photographing it from the road. I couldn’t see what the owl was looking at because I had only had eyes for this owl.
When the owl stood straighter and taller I knew that it was on alert from something it could see that I couldn’t.
Not long after I took the photo above the Burrowing Owl took flight and landed in an area where it was difficult to get photos of because of tall grasses and dried mullein stalks that prevented me from having a clear view. I was thrilled to get decent images of this Burrowing Owl because the only other ones I have taken so far this year of these small desert owls have been when they were too far away to get high quality photos.
On the way home I was also excited to photograph this Common Raven from the causeway after it took flight and flew along the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. It felt like an extra bonus after photographing the Burrowing Owl.
Life is good.