Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where the Deer and the Antelope...

One of our road trips while we visited Utah was to Antelope Island. We wanted to see the Great Salt Lake, and guide books suggested that visiting Antelope Island was a good way to see the lake.

Antelope Island is a state park in Utah, established in 1981. For some time prior to becoming a state park, the island had been farmed. American bison were brought to the island in 1893, and a herd of 600 lives there today.

To get to the island, we traveled across the 7 mile causeway, the only access for vehicles. As we paid, and drove through the entrance gate, the park ranger warned us that the deer flies were "really biting" that day. Thus warned, we didn't linger outside. We drove around, spotting what wildlife we could see. While we saw only a few examples of wildlife, the island is the home to bison, antelope, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, porcupines, jackrabbits and rodents, along with many birds.

We did spot a pronghorn antelope, for which the island was named.

We hoped to see the bison, but had not spotted any. Along the road, when we reached a bit of elevation, we saw two dark spots off in the distance. We drove toward them, coming upon two bison lying down, switching tails--perhaps to brush away flies. They were totally oblivious to our presence, and stayed lying down.

As we began driving around the perimeter of the island, we suddenly encountered the HERD--what looked like the whole herd. Cows, bulls, and calves--all ambling along. The calves played at the edge of the water. Huh, who knew that bison go to the beach. As we slowly drove along, a bull sauntered slowly across the road. Taking his time. The final shot of him shows his "name"--# 6.

The bison herd is rounded up every year, in November. The round-up is something people come to witness. In addition to riders on horse-back rounding up the bison, the park service use helicopters.

The Great Salt Lake is very shallow, and given its high salinity, has little water life. Brine shrimp are what thrives there, which does attract many birds. The lake did not look inviting, and the day we were there, no one was swimming, sailing or boating. Although I found Antelope Island somewhat bleak and barren, there is a beauty to its starkness. Now, if they could do something about the deer flies. . .

One more post on Utah is in the works--thoughts on living in a theocracy.


Jayne said...

How neat to get to see all of them in the herd! They are massive animals, aren't they? :c)

Anvilcloud said...

That would be a great experience. Looking forward to the next post. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

Beautiful photographs. You were wise to stay in the car. Those deer flies are just horrible.

Can't wait for your post on living in a theocracy.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Right beside the road! It looks HUGE!

Deer flies. . . ugh! Poor animals!

Can't wait for tomorrow's.

PS. Have been knitting and watching some of the old NCIS shows. Every time I see Ziva, I wonder how your new girl is doing. Can you add a daily Ziva update somewhere? :)

Ruth said...

Deer flies are worse than mosquitoes in my estimation. I would like to visit this area though when it is cool enough to wear protective clothing.