Sunday, May 31, 2015

Eastern Meadowlark, calm before the storm

Finally home, after eleven days afield in northern Michigan. This was my sixth consecutive year of leading field forays in Presque Isle County, based out of the beautiful Nettie Bay Lodge, ably managed by Jackie and Mark Schuler. Our group was absolutely magnificent, and we hit it out of the park when it came to birds and other wildlife. I'll share more of those adventures later.

Prior to my group's arrival, I spent three days with Doug Tallamy and his friend John McIntyre (spelling? Sorry John, can't find your card). As an aside, read Doug's recent op-ed in the New York Times, RIGHT HERE. Both are avid lensmen, and sport big glass. We tromped around the north woods and found tons of interesting subjects. Between this photo foray and the shooting that I did after my group left, I popped off perhaps 5,000 images. Why so many, you may ask? Is he daft? Well, maybe, but my Canon 7D Mark II clicks off 10 shots a second in burst mode and that quickly adds up. Oftentimes, I'm shooting rapid fire when I think a bird is about to do something interesting, such as grab prey, take wing, preen, whatever. To get the killer shot sometimes - most times! - requires shooting lots of digital discards.

Anyway, today's return trip brought me within a stone's throw of one of my favorite places, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area. The light and sky was beautiful, and a few target subjects lurked within the wildlife area, so in I went for a brief hunt.

Plumped to rotund proportions, an Eastern Meadowlark belts out its clear, piercing whistled song. Were the animal a girl, I would declare that the fat lady has sung. This is one of my favorite birds - yes! a blackbird! - and I couldn't resist watching him for a while. His female, charmed by the melody no doubt, skulked in the grasses below.

So exuberant are springtime meadowlarks that even in flight the song comes out. He may not have been as carefree as looks might imply. The lark had the same view of the western sky that I did, and it was ominous.

The sky churns and boils; a prairie thunderstorm in the making. Moments after I took this shot, the skies let loose, throwing buckets of water earthward. I sat in the car and rode it out, grateful for the free carwash. The meadowlarks and other critters are not as fortunate, but they've ridden out such weather for eons. Storms such as this are but a minor inconvenience, and before its even a memory the meadowlark will be back to whistling.

1 comment:

Lisa Rainsong said...

What dramatic and beautiful photos!