2015-05-10 Two Days At Antelope Island

Chukar - Alectoris chukarOne of the true high points of this trip was Antelope Island State Park, north of Salt Lake City in Utah. This is a very compelling place with LOTS to see. Repeat visits are highly recommended. The nearest town to the entrance to this place is Ogden Utah, where I chose to stay during my time here. The island is 28,800 acres with a greatest elevation of 6,596 feet (Frary Peak) which towers nearly 2400 feet above the Great Salt Lake. The island was so named in 1845 by John Fremont and Kit Carson when they visited the island and shot a Pronghorn Antelope. Out of gratitude for the food, the named the island in its honor. Pronghorn Antelope, along with Mule Deer are native to the island, but there is a large bison herd here that are doing well. Also introduced, but less successful are Bighorn Sheep and Elk.

Depending on the time of year, some of the birds found here are Ring-necked Pheasants, California Quail, Burrowing Owls, Chukar Partridges, Rock Pigeons, Mourning Doves, Horned Larks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Prairie Falcons, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, Great Horned Owls, Barn Owls, Ospreys and Red-tailed Hawks. During my visits here I was able to gather images of Brewer’s Blackbirds, Horned Lark, Lark Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Long-Billed Curlew, Red-Winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Black-Billed Magpie, California Gull, Chukar, Common Raven, Great Horned Owl and Yellow-Headed Blackbird.

I met with my new friend Ron Dudley and his partner Mia McPherson mid morning at the north side of the island, where we had a nice visit. Ron and Mia recommended several specific locations. Having been on the island gathering images since dawn, they were about done for the day. I, however, planned to stay for a while, in spite of the advancing day and the less-than-ideal lighting. The bison herds on the eastern side of the island on the way to Fielding Garr Ranch further to the south, were very entertaining. There were LOTS of newborn calves to arrest the traffic. There was an episode that was rather exciting when crossing the road at a rapid pace a mother bison led her calf past the stopped cars, but did not consider that there wasn’t room for her calf to clear the front of one of the stopped cars. The calf ran full tilt into the side of the car and left a nice dent in the rear door (much to the obvious displeasure of the occupant). After a moment to gather it’s wits, the calf bounded off to join it’s mom, seemingly none the worse for the wear.

After a very nice first day, I decided the island deserved another early morning visit. I was the first vehicle through the gate on this day and had the north end of the island to myself for much of the morning.

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