Meadowlarks have been arriving in good numbers for several weeks now but they’re quite difficult to approach in early spring. Once breeding behaviors begin in earnest they seem to be a little less skittish.
1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, 500 f/4 II, 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
Each of these images was taken just over a week ago on Antelope Island. Here I like how the bird has deliberately (apparently) grasped a large number of rabbitbrush stems in order to support its weight. The background is the Great Salt Lake. These birds spend so much time with their long bills buried in dirt or mud as they forage that it’s fairly unusual for me to get a such a shiny, clean bill.
1/2000, f/8, ISO 500, Canon 7D, 500 f/4 II, 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
This messy beak is more typical of the species. In both of these images the perch is a little busy but I like the backgrounds and the contrasts in the two poses.
It won’t be long until the hills of Antelope Island will be literally ringing with the songs of the meadowlark. I sometimes pull off to the side of the road, turn the engine off and take a short walk just to enjoy the glorious sound of their calls over the stillness of the morning.
That’s an experience I could have later this morning if these blasted clouds would ever clear out!
There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to blurred wings in flight – not ever, they don’t bother me and it depends on the image. I fall in the latter camp. My gut instinct is to prefer the bird entirely sharp but there are exceptions and this image is one of them.
1/1000, f/9, ISO 500, 500 f/4, Canon 40D, 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in
On this day I had been photographing the occasional Northern Harrier as it passed in front of me, usually from left to right as it hunted along a road edge at Farmington Bay. I attempted to get as much depth of field as possible so I was shooting at f/9 but my old Canon 40D doesn’t handle noise particularly well so I didn’t dare go above ISO 500. With the bird at this angle and the camera at these settings the wings are soft, particularly the right one.
But the soft wings in this shot work just fine for me for two reasons: the motion blur provides a sense of movement that would not exist if the wings were sharp and to my eye their softness, in contrast to the sharp face and direct stare from the bird, helps to focus my attention on the amazingly bright and colorful eyes of the male harrier.
But it’s all a matter of taste. Some folks don’t like blurred wings, ever. Others often prefer them. I’ve actually deleted images similar to this one (but without the direct stare) because of motion blur that didn’t appeal to me.
To quote Sly and the Family Stone, ”Different strokes for different folks”. And yes, I am that old…