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Not the Boids You’re Looking For

Yesterday morning, word came from a fellow birder that there were Bobolinks in the fields along the road to Cane Bluff Access on the Eleven Point River. It was dark and overcast, hardly ideal photography conditions and I almost stayed home. But I was bored out of my mind and decided to go anyway, bad light be damned.

Forty-five miles later, I found myself on Cane Bluff road. Only the first 1/2 mile or so is open fields; once the road turns towards the river, it’s shrouded with timber. I quickly found Dickcissels, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, Starlings and I think I heard a Grasshopper Sparrow, but I’m not sure. I did finally see two Bobolinks but they stopped on the barbed wire just long enough to tease. The little shits didn’t even give me a chance at a photo.

But this guy was very cooperative, somewhat atypical for Blue Grosbeaks in my experience.

I thought he was a wet, dirty bluebird when I first noticed him near the end of the last field, sitting on the lower strand of barbed wire. He was on the driver’s side of the truck, which would have made for an easy shot. But the mailman had come up behind me and I couldn’t really stop (that’s how slow I was driving—the mailman had caught up with me). I drove another 200 yards further down the road, turned a donut in the barnyard and headed back.

Surprisingly enough, the bird was still sitting precisely where I first saw him. He was thoughtful enough to allow me to shoot a string of forty shots before deciding he’d had enough.

Because of the poor lighting, I had to shoot at 1/500th of a second, handheld with a 600 mm lens. Twisted awkwardly to the right, I was shooting through the passenger window. And the truck was still running because I was afraid he would fly if I killed the engine.

With all that working against me, I think I did pretty damn well to get as good a shot as I did. But still no Bobolinks, so no, not the boids I was looking for. May the force be with you.

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