American Pipits And A Very Impressive Herd Of Mule Deer Bucks

Several of the bucks appeared to have trophy racks. But first the pipits.

Sorry, no image techs today. I simply ran out of time.

 

I only see American Pipits when they’re migrating and they’re so cryptic and inconspicuous in their typical habitat I’m lucky to see them at all. But when they’re not actually foraging for food on the ground they like to perch on rock piles and that’s where I found several of them yesterday morning. It was nice to get them with a clean background instead of the often cluttered and messy ground.

 

 

I really enjoy hearing their soothing soft calls.

 

 

For many folks pipits might be just another LBJ (little brown job) but I think they’re subtly handsome and I was happy to get a few of them in my viewfinder again.

 

But the most exciting find of the morning was a small herd of mule deer bucks with huge antlers on Antelope Island even though it was a highly frustrating experience for me. They were mostly sidelit and always buried within the vertical stalks of moth mullein so I never got any clear shots. And to make things infinitely worse within moments after I stopped for them my camera started acting up and intermittently wouldn’t autofocus. A few choice words (actually a lot of them) didn’t solve the problem so I missed some of the best opportunities in those rare instances when a huge buck would look my way in decent light.

But I did get some documentary shots that allow us to appreciate the size of those antlers.

 

 

Several of the bucks were impressive but this one got most of the attention of my lens because his antlers were massive and still bloody because he was in the process of losing his velvet which was hanging down in strands from his rack.

 

 

He was even impressive from behind.

 

 

Apparently they were staying in the mullein patches because they were often eating it. This time of year mullein typically has only a single yellow flower at the top of the stalk and they were particularly fond of picking off those terminal flowers but they’d also strip off the dried flowers lower on the stalk as this one is doing.

 

 

I was so damn frustrated and distracted by my camera malfunction that I never bothered to actually count the bucks but there were at least six of them, maybe more. Usually they were walking away from me so most of the time all I could see was antlers and assholes (sorry about that – must be my rural Montana upbringing again…).

Other than a very restricted trophy hunt the mule deer on Antelope Island are never hunted so some of the bucks develop spectacular racks of antlers in the fall. I don’t have high hopes for the largest of these bucks surviving the hunting season so I was happy to document them in their prime.

Last year the coveted deer hunting permit for Antelope Island auctioned off for $410,000, a world record for mule deer. Don’t even get me started about trophy hunting, especially in a state park!

Ron

PS – I strongly suspect that my camera problems were caused by dirty electrical contacts. Hopefully a good cleaning later today will resolve my focusing issues.

 

 

 

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Snowy Egret Descending Into Darkness

This is a six image series of a Snowy Egret in flight as it loses elevation in order to land. I’ve posted one of the photos previously.

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this bird earlier this month at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The egret was coming in for a landing near the shore and I was fortunate enough to lock on and keep it in focus for six shots without clipping any body parts. Typical of egrets in this situation it was largely a gliding approach so all the flight postures are somewhat similar but I do enjoy seeing the changes in the background as the bird descends.

 

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I don’t like this composition because the bird is too low in the frame. After I rotated the image to get the horizon level I didn’t have enough room at the bottom but I thought the image added important context to the series so I included it.

 

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

A bit about the background and why the bottom portion of the image is becoming so dark. There’s two layers of phragmites back there – the golden hues at top are dead phrags but just below them are dark green living ones. Those living phrags…

 

 

1/5000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

and now their reflection in the water of the pond produced the dark greens. This is the photo I posted previously.

 

 

1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

There’s significant contrast between bird and background in these last two shots so I was pleased to pretty much nail the exposure.

Apologies for the “pretty much” in the previous sentence – that may be an old Montana’ism left over from my years on the farm and I’ve never been able to shake it. It’s kind of like “pertineer” for pretty near and to be honest I really don’t try very hard to lose either one of them.

 

 

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The egret’s angle of attack in the air became steeper as it approached the chosen landing spot. This is the last sharp shot I was able to get without clipping anything.

I don’t get many photos of Snowy Egrets in flight that I like very much so I’ve probably overdone it here, especially since the flight postures are quite similar. Hopefully the interesting changes in background compensate a little for the “blizzard of snowies”.

Ron

 

 

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