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Bobolinks!

7/11/2020


Well, and other birds. Bobolink were my main target, though. I have very few pictures of Bobolink, and they are such a cool bird.


Bobolink are a long-distance migrant from north and central South America. They nest in colonies in the upper plains areas all the way up into Canada. As social nesters, they do not really establish territories. They win mates with aerial courtship displays. Unfortunately, the time to capture them in display flights has passed.


I pulled into Atterbury just at sunrise. I still had some time before the sun would clear the trees to the east of the field. Pants tucked in socks, shirt tucked in pants, smelling of bug repellent, I waded into the field; hoping this was enough to stave off chiggers. Grasshopper and Henslow's Sparrows were singing from various places around me. Barn and Tree Swallows were busily zig-zagging their way across the fields. Distantly, I could make out one black bird sitting on the top of some weeds. Pulling up my camera, I could see that it was a single male Bobolink. I waded towards the bird; wondering where the others were. He, for his part, flew towards me. I spent most of the next hour standing in the field with a single pair of Bobolinks flitting about. It was an odd game. The male Bobolink would fly towards me, and I would move to put him in better light or against a better background. He would fly off when I moved or after a couple of shots. If I waited long enough, he would then fly back to a favorite perch in that location and start singing his crazy song. I eventually worked out the logistics of the game enough that I could stand in one location, and (sometimes) he would perch in the top of a Common Milkweed plant. For the most part, the female stayed hidden or would fly off some distance; pulling the male with her before returning.


Before heading out, I wanted some sparrow shots, too. Getting sparrow shots in tall grass is not overly easy. The Grasshopper Sparrow were at least perched up. Most of the Henslow's were buried in the grass. I did find a couple perched up in the weeds, but they were fairly shy and did not allow close approach.


As I was heading out, I decided to check one last spot of the field. There is a small rise in the middle of the field. While I did walk to the top of it, it appears there is still a portion of the field that is out of sight. Pulling onto a small road that runs along the edge of the field, I arrived at a spot on the edge of the rise. Here, in this little pocket, I found the rest of the colony I expected when I got here. By this time, the sun was getting high and a bit hot. The bugs were pretty obnoxious, too. The gnats were oblivious to the repellent I had on. I waded out into the field for some shots; thinking I was going to have my pick of the flock. But these birds were not interested in being anywhere near me. As I approached, they kept moving further back into the field. I know how this game is played and did not want to participate. If I had followed them, they would have eventually flown back to their original spot and been on the wrong side of the light. I would have had to start all over again. I was not interested in that. I snapped the few shots that I could and called it a day.


Sunday has been a lazy day. The weather called for scattered thunderstorms. Not needing much of an excuse, I slept in and woke up to a beautiful morning. It does not pay to be lazy.


Thanks for reading,

Mike


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