Tag Archive | Western Meadowlark

West 2016: Badlands NP Wildlife

Day 4: August 8, 2016

Do you have any idea how long I have been trying to get a decent photo of Bighorn Sheep?  I was thwarted in Colorado at Colorado National Monument, got the faintest glimpse of them at dusk on the drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park, got blurry pics of them at Pikes Peak, and then missed them again at Joshua Tree

But Badlands National Park did not disappoint!  We saw Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep for the first time that day at the Burns Basin Overlook.  There were three of them.  Two were resting on the rocks, and one was walking unhurriedly.  My mom didn’t get out of the car at first, so I had to go back and drag her out to make sure she got to see them too.  Of course, I did make sure to get some photos first.  I was so excited!

Bighorn Sheep at Burns Basin Overlook

I spotted some pretty little songbirds, but couldn’t really tell what kind they were because they were silhouetted against the blue sky.

They might be Mountain Bluebirds, but I couldn’t tell for sure…

We decided to drive down the Sage Creek Rim Road, a gravel road that is supposed to be where the bison and the bighorn sheep often hang out.  There is also a prairie dog town a few miles down the road.  We didn’t see any bison that day, but we were not disappointed because we had already done some fabulous spotting at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and Yellowstone National Park was still coming up later in the trip!  Soon we happened upon a huge herd of animals grazing in the field in the distance.  At first glance, we both thought they were deer, but after watching them for a few minutes, I figured out that they were bighorn sheep!  We took some photos and continued on, because they were pretty far away.

Soon we came upon a bunch of sheep hanging out right by the road, and often, in the road!  There were a lot of babies too!  I had so much fun just watching them and taking photos.  They were stunning and so close!  They weren’t bothered by us at all.

Baby Bighorn Sheep!

Not even this guy, who was too lazy to even stand up all the way to re-position himself for better grass!

This guy… I have no words…

It was tough to pull away from the bighorns, but we headed the rest of the way to the prairie dog town.  These prairie dogs didn’t want to pose as nicely for us though…  I did get a nice shot of a Western Meadowlark though!

Prairie Dog! He was on a mission…

 

Western Meadowlark at Badlands

We did so much wildlife spotting that it was starting to get late, and we wanted to grab some dinner.  We returned the way we came, stopping for some more photos of the bighorn sheep, before heading out of the park.  Just outside, we found a lone pronghorn posing beautifully, so I got some photos of him too!

 

Is this not the cutest trio of butts ever!

 

A stately Pronghorn, just outside of the park

It was a great day for wildlife!

 

Moab 2015: Antelope Island

We were about to have a wonderful wildlife viewing experience!  We had most of the day to spend at Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, and we were determined to make the most of our day.  We started at the Visitor’s Center (postcards!), which had a board showing where different animals were hanging out that day.  It also had a tank full of brine shrimp, so you could see how little they were.  A fully grown brine shrimp is 12 mm at the largest.

Entering Antelope Island State Park!

Entering Antelope Island State Park!

Then we drove over to check out the Fielding Garr Ranch.  On the way, we were treated to up-close views of several bison, who were lying down resting in the grass.  They were huge!  It was really neat to see them, and they were totally undisturbed as I snapped a million pictures from the car.

A  Bison relaxing at Antelope Island

A Bison relaxing at Antelope Island

The ranch has lots of outbuildings in addition to the main house, so there is lots to check out.  We wandered around looking at old tools, old tractors, old cars, and storage buildings.  The ranch has a couple of root cellars too.  The adobe main house was built in 1848.  It had plumbing and electricity added at some point, but it is still very rustic.  Not a luxury bathroom by any stretch of the imagination.

The Fielding Garr Adobe House - Built 1848- Adobe Architectural Style

The Fielding Garr Adobe House – Built 1848- Adobe Architectural Style

An antique Case Tractor

An antique Case Tractor

The ranch has a cook’s wagon onsite that was really interesting.  I have no idea when it was built, but it was definitely loaded!  It had a bed, and all sorts of cubbyholes for storing cooking supplies!  It was kind of fun to think about the cook with this wagon following the cowboys around and preparing their meals while they were out of the range.

The exterior of the Cook's Wagon

The exterior of the Cook’s Wagon

The interior of the Cook's Wagon

The interior of the Cook’s Wagon

After the ranch, we went and found the trail head for the Frary Peak hike.  Jon chose this hike after having driven by it on the way to the ranch, not knowing that it is the most strenuous hike on the island.  We ate our picnic lunch at the trail head before heading out on the hike.

The hike starts with a fairly steep route up the hillside, so I had to take lots of rest breaks.  It has fabulous views of the island, the Great Salt Lake, and the Wasatch mountains beyond.  The whole hike is 3.08 miles each way, with a chance to see Bighorn Sheep near the mountain peak.

We decided not to go all the way though, because Jon didn’t want to exert himself too much just a couple of days before his half marathon.  Which was fine with me, because it was a tough hike!  We ended up hiking about 1.3 miles each way.

The view on the Frary Peak Hike

The view on the Frary Peak Hike

On the way down, we came across a very vocal, cute striped bird.  Another hiker told me that it was a chukar.  Apparently chukars are not native to the United States; they are native to Europe and the Middle East and were introduced to the U.S. as a game bird.  You wouldn’t know it though, as this guy seemed well at home.

A Chukar!  A type of partridge.  I love those stripes!

A Chukar! A type of partridge. I love those stripes!

After the Frary Peak hike, we checked out the other side of the island.  There is a restaurant there, where you can dine on bison burgers.  It also has good access to the lake, so we walked down the metal gangway to see it close up.  It was much less impressive than I expected.  We did the obligatory pics with the lake and headed back to the car.

 

The Great Salt Lake - Meh...

The Great Salt Lake – Meh…

As we were driving away from the restaurant, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  I looked over and saw a Burrowing Owl!  He (or she) was hanging out by the burrow, calm as could be.  What a treat to see!  I took many photos of that beautiful, little owl.

A Burrowing Owl!  What an experience to see this guy (or gal)!

A Burrowing Owl! What an experience to see this guy (or gal)!

We wrapped up our day with a few more photos of bison, and of a beautiful Western Meadowlark, before we departed from Antelope Island.

A Bison grazing on Antelope Island

A Bison grazing on Antelope Island

A gorgeous Western Meadowlark

A gorgeous Western Meadowlark

We had a fantastic day; I would recommend it to anyone who wants a great nature experience.

Have you been to Antelope Island?  What was your favorite part of your visit?