Eastern Meadowlark > February 2011
Archive Index Michael W. Masters

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Before this trip I had never seen an eastern meadowlark -- other than in other peoples’ photos, which I envied greatly, because this species is absolutely beautiful and seems to always be singing!  Nor was I expecting to see them on this trip.  So it was with great surprise that I happened to glimpse a flash of yellow in the dry grass of a pasture as we were leaving one of the lake roads at dusk one afternoon.  It might have been Lake Cypress Road or Joe Overstreet, I really don’t remember.  But there it was, my first ever eastern meadowlark, alertly watching my every move from the grass.

I got out the big rig and set up in the roadside grass.  It was a tough situation.  Light was fading fast which meant slow shutter speeds, and the tripod was resting on a mat of thick grass which meant support wasn’t the steadiest.  Thank goodness for image stabilization!  The bird was a good distance away so filling the frame wasn’t possible.  And since the bird was in the grass isolation from the background wasn’t possible either.  But I was thrilled to finally capture a species that I had previously only seen in others’ photos.  More than that, where there was one there were bound to be more.  I couldn’t wait for the morrow.

Sure enough, the next day I happened on another meadowlark, but unfortunately this one was perched such that it was almost fully backlit, and a couple of small sticks intruded on the composition that just couldn’t be eliminated.  I went on to other things, hoping for a better opportunity.  I thought I had found it when I came across a sitting bird on a fence post in good light, but the bird eyed me suspiciously, gave a few trills and fled.

Then, it finally happened – I came across a large and well colored specimen perched on a fence post with open field beyond.  It was a beautiful bird in light that, while not perfect, was good enough -- slightly side lit, but if one waited for proper posture and head turn one would be rewarded with a good image.

I must have stayed with this individual for fifteen or twenty minutes, photographing from my car with a midrange telephoto.  It was aware of me but not particularly alarmed.  It stood up, it turned its head, it looked down at its feet, it did a wing stretch, it retracted its head toward its body, it scratched its neck on the fence post, it sang to me, and finally, when it was good and ready, it made its departure.

Patience at last had found its reward.


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