Bison Bulls Doing What Bison Do

One problem with photographing bison is that they don’t do anything interesting very often. These big bulls, photographed five days ago on Antelope Island, were a bit of an exception.

 

1/1250/ f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 400mm

I particularly like to photograph bison when they’re on the horizon with blue sky or dark storm clouds as a backdrop. This big guy didn’t do much but just stand there and look overpoweringly large and intimidating. I do wish he’d turned his head toward me a little and didn’t have grasses in front of his muzzle.

 

 

1/1000/ f/8, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 135mm

Soon several of the bulls walked down the hill and began to drink from ice-covered puddles from melted snow that were very close to me. The sounds of ice breaking from the weight of their hooves and muzzles were eerie. They drank so much water I kept expecting the surface of the ice to begin bending into a concave shape. Perhaps it did and I didn’t notice.

I can only imagine how cold their innards must have felt after drinking several gallons of icy-cold water.

 

 

1/2000/ f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 188mm

When they’d lift their heads slightly there’d be drool dribbling from their muzzles. Then they’d lower their heads again and go back for more.

 

 

1/1000/ f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 263mm

Several of the bulls in the group stayed on the hill and did a little jousting. I don’t believe the fight was too serious but with these guys you never know. I think the arc of starlings in flight is a nice touch and I was pleasantly surprised to get light in the eyes of both bulls.

I’m looking forward to bison calving season and watching the “reds” (a name for young calves because of their rusty-red color) frolicking on the prairie.

Actually I’m anticipating a lot of things that are spring related…

Ron

 

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Swainson’s Hawk With A Vole

I’m pretty sure this vole bit the hawk’s foot.

 

1/2000, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This adult intermediate morph Swainson’s Hawk (photographed last April in Box Elder County) had landed on this post with the vole and seemed to be relaxing for a moment before it began to leisurely enjoy its meal when the hawk suddenly flinched. In other images it actually jumped up off the post an inch or so and raised its left foot with the vole as if to closer inspect the source of the pain.

Immediately after that it administered the coup de grâce by biting the head and neck of the vole…

 

 

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 640, 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 then gobbled it down with gusto. Perhaps revenge contributed its enthusiasm for the meal. 🙂

When it was through eating the hawk stayed on the post so I removed my teleconverter in preparation for takeoff (so I’d be less likely to clip any body parts). But soon I spotted a big truck speeding toward us that would pass between me and the bird. I had only two chances for takeoff shots:

  • I might get a shot or two if the bird took off just before the truck passed between us
  • If the truck was between us when it took off I was screwed but it was traveling fast so it was also possible that it would have barely passed as the hawk took off and I might get a shot then

But the problem with that second scenario was that as the truck passed my focus points would lock onto the closer truck and I wouldn’t have time to lock back onto the bird if it was in the process of taking off (resulting in an out-of-focus hawk).

So at the last moment I changed my strategy. I locked focus on the bird just before the truck arrived and then took my finger off the focus button (I use back button autofocus) so my focus wouldn’t lock onto the truck. My plan was to fire off a few shots just as the truck got by me. Perhaps the hawk would already be gone but I might get lucky and catch it right at takeoff.

What actually happened was somewhere in-between.

 

 

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in

This is the first image after the noisy truck whizzed by to my left. It made the hawk flinch but it didn’t take off and what I didn’t plan for was the second truck coming fast right behind the first one. When that one passed I missed the takeoff.

The best laid plans of mice (or voles) and men…

Ron

PS – I’ve posted other images of this hawk in the past but these three are new to my blog.

 

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