A Spring Morning In The West Desert

We had a wonderful time out on the west desert again this morning.  The light was great, the birds were singing and everything was clear, crisp and clean.  This post is meant to give you a feel for what it was like.  I didn’t get any stunning photos so don’t expect any here but I think you might enjoy the variety of what we experienced.


horned lark 1851 ron dudley

 1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light (these settings were a mistake for the situation)

The Horned Larks like to perch on rocks this time of year.  This is the male.



horned lark 1698 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 640, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light

And this is the female, singing.  Their soft, subtle call is music to my ears but you have to be quite close to appreciate it.



western meadowlark 1740 ron dudley

 1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 640, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light

I was just the right distance from this singing Western Meadowlark for a take-off shot but when it launched it did so in the wrong direction (behind it) so I didn’t get that shot.  I wish I’d been closer for this static image but still liked it.  For you photogs, my settings were meant for the take-off.



mule deer 4160 ron dudley

 1/640, f/8, ISO 500, 100-400 @ 130mm, natural light

This is what it’s like when 12 huge ears are pointed directly at you.  These Mule Deer were interested in us for a few moments but fairly quickly they became unconcerned…



mule deer 4173 ron dudley

  1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 640, 100-400 @ 300mm, natural light

and jumped a fence to leisurely cross the dirt road right in front of us.  Not a great shot, but interesting nonetheless, I thought.



moon over mountains 1776 ron dudley

   1/800, f/16, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc

This photo was taken in full daylight at 8:07 AM, just as the moon began to drop behind the mountains to the west.  It’s amazing just how fast the moon seems to move when it’s so close to whatever forms the horizon.  I decided to post a large version of this image for the moon detail.  Please forgive the obnoxiously placed copyright logo.

I love Utah’s west desert.  I remember when I was a relatively young squirt, soon after moving here from NW Montana 45 years ago, thinking that Utah was largely a wasteland compared to the alpine splendors I’d left up north.  Boy, was I ever wrong!  We have our own extensive mountain splendors but in addition we have the Colorado Plateau with its spectacular red rock country, the Great Basin with all that includes, huge wild areas like the San Rafael Swell and the Book Cliffs and the list goes on.  About the only thing we don’t have is a true ocean.  But instead we have the unique Great Salt Lake and all of its wetlands.  I’m convinced that no other state has the variety of physiography that we do.

Yes, we do have some social and political quirks (in my opinion) that can occasionally try one’s patience but I don’t think Utah can be beat when it comes to the variety of what we have to offer in our landscapes, flora and fauna.

That said, I still love Montana and I go “home” several times every year but it’s just too damned cold up there for me in the winter…


22 comments to A Spring Morning In The West Desert

  • What a lovely Day! I find it amazing how much the light has changed. Love the variety of shots, both zoomed in and wide angle.happy Easter and Happy spring!

  • Ingrid

    Dear Ron, WOW WEE!!!! (as my 1 year old granddaughter would say!). All stunning photos as usual, but the one of the moon ……… I reckon that would just NEEDS your copyright logo all over it!
    Hope you are having a good Easter weekend – it is still freezing here on the South coast of the UK: bizarre!
    Kind regards, Ingrid

  • Hi there Ron:

    I’m just spending some time browsing the web tonight and bouncing from page to page. Nothing special really. just a random search for photography.

    Anyway, like others seem to be saying that shot of the Moon is simply off the chart! I feel is if I should have great words of wonder and wisdom but the simple fact is I’m not one of those guys that can express himself that way. Even so it’s a beautiful shot!

    Thank you for sharing,


  • Gorgeous photos, wonderful to see such a love of birds.

  • Happy Easter! Great picture of the Western Meadowlark!

  • What an entrancing series. And yes, I can quite see why Utah has won your heart and claimed a bit of you. However, the photos of Montana you show from your trips home are also spectacular. I would be torn.
    After being away for a number of years I am back in the city in which I grew up – and a lot of it I still find amazing. And the familiarity is also comforting. I think the only answer is to enjoy (revel in if possible) the place you are in. Or that someone else like you brings to show you. Thank you.

  • Debbie Trainer

    Thank you again for the beautiful shots. I can almost hear the birds singing. Happy Easter to you and I hope you have a beautiful day!

  • The desert is an amazing place, if you keep your eyes open. Here in El Paso we don’t necessarily have all of the wildlife variety you have in Utah, but we have quite a bit. Being on a flyway helps. But there are also lizards, butterflies, javelinas, etc. I have always liked the desert, but have fallen in love with it all over again since I moved here just over 4 years ago. There is always something happening.

  • The call of the Meadowlark is a hopeful sign . Thank you Ron . May you and yours have a Happy Easter and a Happy Spring!

  • Sue

    Your photos are just stunning. I am a new fan of your blog! The moon shot is terrific.

  • Sharon Constant

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful and inspiring morning with us. I woke up tired this morning and these images have lifted my spirits and soothed my soul.
    Thank you, again.

  • Charlotte Norton

    What a wonderful series! I loved the moon which was a total departure but a lovely one! Thanks so much for sharing them! Happy Easter!

  • “I didn’t get any stunning photos …”? I beg to differ. These were all great. Because I spent last week repairing past hurricane-induced damage to the barbed wire fence around our place, the beautiful shots of the Mule Deer struck a chord.

    • Glad you enjoyed those deer images, Dwynn. I’m surprised by how “tame” they were – I guess hunting season is a distant memory for them now…

  • Thank you, Dick. Yes, we do become attached to our own neck of the woods, don’t we? Happy Easter to you too.

  • Dick Harlow

    WOW!! Beautiful shots Ron.
    Images don’t have to be up close and personal to always be great shots. I love em when they are that way, but I also love the ones that show the environment.
    If I was a young guy and not attached to New England as I am, your images could draw me to Utah and the west. But, I also know why Montana is called Big Sky country. One has to drive through Montana to see how close you are to the huge blue sky of Montana.
    Have a happy Easter and thanks for sharing your passion and art!