Wildlife Diversity Brings Photographer To Antelope Island Each Year

Jan 7, 2019, 5:52 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

SYRACUSE, Utah – Wildlife photographer Rob Daugherty has had whale encounters in California, run into bears in Montana, and photographed lions in Africa, but a few times a month he keeps coming back to a photo op right here in Utah: Antelope Island.

“No matter when you come there’s something going on,” Daugherty says.

On a recent morning tour around the state park, he located coyotes, an eagle, Great Horned Owls and, of course, bison.

He points out what look like a couple of bird nests in a grove of Russian olive trees. They are not nests. They are porcupines.

“You can go different places and get, like, specific things. But here you get such a variety,” he says.

“I’ll go up to the Cottonwood canyons and there’s plenty of moose. I love moose and stuff but I can come here and there’s just a variety of animals.”

Great horned owls on Antelope Island.

The park is popular with birders such as retired teachers Paul Lombardi and Dan Johnston, president of the Wasatch Audubon.

On a brief excursion, they sighted a Red-tailed Hawk, Green-winged Teal, Tundra Swans, Killdeer and a Kestrel.

“So that bird is interested in mice and very capable of visualizing a urine tracks,” Lombardi happily points out about the Kestrel perched atop a signpost.

“Mouse pee, yeah.”

“I get in my car and in 15, 20 minutes I’m on the causeway. That’s amazing. That’s why this is such a valuable spot for birders around,” Lombardi says.

“People from all over the United States, when we go traveling, they’ll say, well, where would I go birding to see some good variety of birds,” Johnston says. “The first place I always say is you want to go to Antelope Island. That’s the number one spot…We have birds out here that we don’t see anywhere else.”

Birders Paul Lombardi and Dan Johnston celebrate after finding a burrowing owl on Antelope Island.

“I do a lot of presentations…and I’ll always ask, you know, ‘how many of you have been to Antelope Island and usually it’s just ten percent of the people in the room have ever been out here,” Daugherty says. “And I mean, these are people that have lived here all their life.”

Near Ladyfinger point, Johnston and Lombardi look for an old friend – a Rock Wren.

“Psshhh, psshh, psshhh,” Lombardi calls to the bird. Lombardi is pishing, he explains. It’s a technique he learned from a famous bird watcher from New Jersey.

After several minutes of pishing, the Rock Wren does, indeed, appear, if only for a few seconds. Still the two are pleased.

“With the tail perked up high and him looking around, checking around, hopping around, that’s it. I mean that really makes for excitement and you say ‘yeah, it was worthwhile.’ Plus, oh, so beautiful,” Lombardi says.

Wildlife photographer Rob Daugherty on Antelope Island.

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Wildlife Diversity Brings Photographer To Antelope Island Each Year