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Memories of Antelope Island, Utah

Franklin's Gull - Larus pipixcanArguably, one of the best Birding Destinations I’ve ever visited is Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve paid visits on two expeditions, and each time I’ve spent multiple days enjoying the many opportunities for meeting nature at this wondrous, unique site.

My introduction to Antelope Island came in late spring of 2015. A mutual friend introduced me to photographer Ron Dudley, who lives in the area and is familiar with the local attractions. Ron and friend Mia McPherson met me on the island and described to me the layout, then left me on my own, which was perfect for my style of exploration.

Red-Necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatusAt 42 square miles, Antelope Island is large, with its own colorful history. Like a small mountain at the eastern edge of the Great Salt Lake, it is surrounded by the shallow super salty water of the lake. Between 1967 and 1969 a causeway between the island and the lake shore was constructed, providing an alternate to boating as the only access to the island. Even before reaching the island, it is apparent that bird meetings will be special. Along the causeway only the seriously tunnel-visioned can make it all the way to the island without stopping to take in the birds gathered at the water’s edges. This is especially true during migration. The island not only plays host to multiple bird species, but bison, pronghorn, deer and even Big-Horn Sheep call this place home.

In 2017 I drove north on an expedition to experience the solar eclipse on August 21. My good friend and fellow shutterbug Jerry Goffe spearheaded the expedition. The plan called a journey from our homes in Albuquerque and San Diego, with a rendezvous near Salt Lake at master nature photographer Joe Ford’s home in Layton. Jerry and I enjoyed Joe’s company and hospitality for several days and we had great fun swapping lies and spinning yarns while we chased images from the comfort of Joe’s vehicle. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this visit was witnessing over a million (my guess) Red-Necked Phalaropes along the causeway leading to the island. After our final day of the visit, Jerry and I drove north to Idaho to chase Moon Shadows.

Below are a few of my favorite images from the days I spent in the island.

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