See also the bighorn sheep, elk, and wild horses images from a few days ago.
Pronghorn Antelope are usually very skittish and difficult to approach—another lucky roadside find. Below, images taken as a small herd of pronghorn antelope were grazing roadside. I like taking different poses, as they show behavior and details like coloring and antlers and so on.
The about $2998 Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 on the about $1999 Olympus E-M1 Mark II worked great and is so tack sharp that color aliasing in the hair/fur becomes an issue.
I’ll be publishing these images and many more at full resolution as I get back to it.
Below, this doe looks pregnant as did others, a near certainty since I saw no fawns among the herd. I’d expect within two weeks she will bear her young.
Below, this buck first scratched up the soil like a cat might do prior to urinating and defecating. Good boy.
The buck seemed particularly fond of the fresh greens right near pavement’s edge, staying well away from the does. Perhaps the roadside forage contains more salts, which are needed to grow horns (I assume they are horns, not antlers, since they are not shed annually by the look of it).
Marc C writes:
They are indeed horns, and what you see is not bony material (as in a deer antler) but a sheath covering the living bone core of the horn (just like cow horns or those of bighorn sheep). The sheath is largely keratin (same protein in your hair and fingernails). The sheath is shed annually, like antlers. Wikipedia has an informative entry on this.
In terms of road salt, they might well be interested in it since sodium is often scarce in a herbivore’s diet, but it won’t be very useful in growing bone (or horns). Road salt is sodium chloride, and the main minerals in bone are calcium and phosphorus.
Pronghorns are reportedly the second-fastest runners (after cheetahs) but it’s pretty hard to accurately measure this sort of thing. Mammalogists theorize that they needed that speed because until pretty recently (Pleistocene) there was an American ‘cheetah' that presumably preyed on pronghorn (whether or not the American and Afro-Asiatic cheetahs were closely related is unclear).
DIGLLOYD: roadside salt: it might or might not be all sodium; there is a lot of potash in places (e.g., Moab). I suspect it is some mixture taken from some native deposit in Utah or Arizona. Mark C indicates that “potash doesn’t have much calcium or phosphorus (not sure about local alternatives, but I’m pretty sure most road salt is sodium chloride)”. Well, this buck liked this stuff for something in it, and none of the dozen or so does paid any attention to roadside greens.
Below, Cedar Breaks National Park overlook.