Perseverance in Bird Photography

This year, my shot list for which bird species I was most eager to capture was kept very short in order to be realistically achievable. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, from that list I had already missed the migratory opportunities for two of them. I wasn’t about to let my final target bird slip away as well.

Enter June 2020: the month of the bobolink. After catching only one glimpse of them last year here in west central Wisconsin, the bobolink was the first bird that I jotted down to this year’s shot list. From their quirky song that sounds like a highly-caffeinated red-winged blackbird, to their wonderfully white topside with black underparts called reverse countershading, to their creamy yellow nape, and finally their unique pointy, asymmetrical tail feathers, there’s so much I love about these birds.

Within the first couple days of June, I had spotted a male in the same place I caught a glimpse last year. Off to a great start, or so I thought. Over the next few days, however, I never saw them again. Feeling dejected, I went down the road a ways more and stopped by a different grass field where I’ve never really spent much time. Within a couple minutes of sitting in my car looking around through my binoculars, a bobolink came and landed on a chest-high sign post about 10 feet from my car. I’d never been so close to one, and seeing that refueled my drive to put in whatever time would be necessary to get the shots I wanted.

As it would turn out, time was surely necessary. Over the next couple weeks I would park my car in that new field and before getting out that same bobolink come and land next to me on the sign post for a minute before taking off back into the field, usually never to be seen again that day. By the third week of June I started having luck getting them within photographic range in their natural grassland habitat. My perseverance was finally being rewarded and I had the biggest grin shooting some of these photos.

In the above video I present my experience shooting in the same exact field over the course of a month and the variety of birds that were encountered there, including my beloved bobolinks.

Log in or register to post comments


Deniz O's picture

Some good advice. Just having fun being outside and close to the animals is sometimes just as important. The more you are outside and try, the more chances you will have.
Nice Video and some good shots!

Troy Straub's picture

Great work and great article! I don't shoot a lot of birds mostly because I don't have long or fast enough glass, but I like to give it a go with what I have from time to time. I do shoot a lot of macro/closeup of bugs in the wild and most of what you said applies there too. I saw my first hummingbird moth a couple days ago and it was a clear wing too! Only got off three shots and I've seen sharper pics of Bigfoot than what I got. But I got enough to know what I saw and it makes me want to go back out next chance I get and see if I can spot another.

Tom Reichner's picture

I absolutely LOVE that Barn Swallow image at 1:07 into the video!

Micha elsimo's picture

pretty picture! In nature, light creates color. In the picture, color creates light.

Very interesting details you have remarked, appreciate it for posting.

J. A. Mikulich's picture

Thank you for this video.
Your location resembles the grasslands in northern Michigan I went to almost daily this past spring.
In March, I went there at dusk several times to try and capture Short-eared Owls hunting. Most of the time they were too far away for a decent photo ...but one day I got lucky when an individual flew in front of me (photo attached).
I did return again in June and with the help of a fellow photographer, got an image of an adult Bobolink too (other photo).
Yes, perseverance is the key!