Birds, A Bison And A Bit Of An Illusion

A bison, many birds, a stormy sky in the background and even an element of novelty – all are reasons this image appeals to me.


bison 3525 ron dudley

1/1250, f/7.1 ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

Against my better judgment and usual practice of avoiding Antelope Island on Saturdays, this morning I decided to break a personal tradition and visit the island despite the weekend crowds.  The light looked promising at first but most of the morning was socked in with clouds.  And then everything came together for just a few minutes.

Light peeked out from behind the clouds and spotlighted a group of bison on a hill with dark, threatening clouds in the background (the sky was darker than it appears here).  Flocks of European Starlings were buzzing around the bison, alternately landing on them and on the ground all around.  I presume the starlings were feeding on insects that infest the bison and on seeds on the ground.  The starling flocks were in several amorphous murmurations that flowed through the air from one bison group to another.  It was fascinating to watch, especially in that lighting and with that dark background.

I have many photos similar to this one but I chose to post this image largely for the novelty provided by the bird flying in front and just above the bison’s eye.  At first glance it looks like that bird is banking vertically with its right wing down and its left wing up but closer inspection reveals that the left “wing” is really the bison’s horn.  The illusion is likely a little bit of weirdness that appeals to me more than it does to others.

But that’s par for the course…

(And yes, I’m also a fan of Bev Doolittle and have one of her prints hanging in a bathroom).


Addendum:  I’m posting this heavily cropped version of the same image in response to Patty Chadwick’s question, below.

bison 3525b ron dudley

Patty, I think you can see here that the left wing is in a horizontal position that makes it difficult to see in the larger version of the image.

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