My First of Year Swainson’s Hawk and April Snow on Antelope Island

/, Antelope Island State Park, Birds, Davis County, Swainson's Hawks, Utah, Wildlife/My First of Year Swainson’s Hawk and April Snow on Antelope Island

First of Year Swainson's Hawk with snowy mountains in the backgroundFirst of Year Swainson’s Hawk with snowy mountains in the background

There was snow on the valley floor yesterday morning and it was a chilly way to start an April day but late snows like this aren’t uncommon here in the Mountain West. There was a cold north wind blowing on Antelope Island and I remember feeling glad that I had remembered to tuck my gloves into my camera backpack just in case I needed them. Earlier this month I paid the price of numb fingers because I had forgotten them at home in a pocket of my winter jacket.

The sharp wind kept most of the birds down close to the ground and as clouds scuttled overhead there was sun and shadows on the birds I did find. I did see my first of the year Willets near the Great Salt Lake from the causeway on the way to the island and that had me exclaiming with delight.

My best find of the day was my first of the year Swainson’s Hawk about two thirds of the way down the island perched in some trees near a freshwater spring. I was so excited to see this hawk because I missed them so much over the winter.

The adult Swainson’s was hunkered down because of the wind and cold and it had the snowy mountains of Antelope Island in the background. This hawk just flew in from South America where I am certain it felt much warmer and more comfortable than it did yesterday. The poor Swainson’s looked pretty darn cold.

April snow on the mountains of Antelope IslandApril snow on the mountains of Antelope Island

The day before yesterday the mountains of Antelope Island were completely bare of snow but the storm that started Saturday night that went into early Sunday morning dumped enough snow to cover the mountains and even reach down to the lower elevations.

Antelope Island's mountains covered in snow in AprilAntelope Island’s mountains covered in snow in April

The late snow won’t last long on the island though because the day after tomorrow it will be in the 60’s then the forecast has the temps climbing back in the 70’s again. This image shows the snow on the mountains and fresh spring grasses close to where I took this photo from the road that goes to Garr Fielding Ranch.

Sun, shadows and snow on Antelope Island's mountainsSun, shadows and snow on Antelope Island’s mountains

I liked the play of sunlight and shadows on the mountains in this frame with the fluffy clouds overhead. Most of the time my subjects are close and don’t show the spectacular landscapes I get to see while out photographing birds and wildlife and I like to photograph these views because they are also part of the story of the journeys I take.

View of the Great Salt Lake with the Wasatch Mountains in the distanceView of the Great Salt Lake with the Wasatch Mountains in the distance

This is a view of the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains while coming down from the Frary Peak Trailhead. Soon the bison will bring their calves to this side of the island to graze on this same slope.

Spring snow on Antelope IslandSpring snow on Antelope Island

This view is looking up towards the trailhead with a sliver of the road to the trailhead visible in the frame. The clouds can mess with my bird photography and I do complain about them at times but they are so beautiful floating in the bright blue western sky.

Bison bull grazing on spring grassesBison bull grazing on spring grasses

I couldn’t resist sharing one image of an American Bison bull grazing on spring grasses at White Rock Bay near the Great Salt Lake with snowy mountains way off in the distance. The bison have already begun to shed their winter coats and very soon they will look a bit ratty for a while.

I wasn’t sure there would be any decent light on the island yesterday but I am glad there was and I am also delighted to have seen my first Swainson’s Hawk of the year.

Life is good and I am enjoying the journey.



  1. Elephants Child April 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    You do live in an incredibly beautiful area.
    Loved the landscape shots to give me some perspective. And the odd jealous thought.

  2. Utahbooklover April 10, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Wonderful images! Surprising amount of snow in our valleys but its all gone now and the flowers look OK. Did anyone see the interesting PBS documentary PLIGHT OF THE GRASSLAND BIRDS last night. About midway through it looks at the Bison. Very interesting. If this link doesn’t work for you the program can also be found on YouTube. Runs less than an hour:

  3. Gordon April 10, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Another one of your birds I haven’t seen, great. Love the snowy pics , but I’m glad its you that has the snow and not us.
    Take care Gordon.

  4. Patty Chadwick April 10, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Beautiful cloud and landscapes…love seeing them…that hawk looks totally miserable!!! Nice shot of bison. Nothing looks as ratty as a bison shedding its thick winter coat! I guess the birds like it , though, for luxury nesting material.

  5. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver April 10, 2017 at 7:21 am

    You live in gorgeous country! Thanks for sharing these birds and places.

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