When I was photographing for my book Spirit in the Grass, my biggest challenge was to capture book quality bird images.
The grasslands are vast. I remember hiking for miles and hardly being able to see a big horn sheep! They looked so small. Seeing and then getting close enough to photograph tiny birds was a hundred times more challenging!
One evening while driving home, I noticed a meadowlark in a small fir tree. I stopped a tried to make an image but was unsuccessful. On another occasion, at the same time of day, the same thing happened; a small meadowlark on the same tree. Once again I was unsuccessful in getting a quality image.
Then I wondered to myself, I wonder if that meadowlark went to that same tree every evening around that time of day. Knowing that these birds were used to seeing passing vehicles, I drove to the tree and parked as close to the tree as I possibly could. I then rolled down my window part way, set up a small bean-bag (pillow) over the glass as my tripod, aimed my 500mm lens toward the tree, and waited!
As luck would have it that evening, just 3-5 minutes before the sun set, a meadowlark landed on its favourite tree. Facing the last rays of light, it started its most beautiful call. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I made my images, With each click I thought it would fly away, but it remained, calling to its mate until the sun set.
I thanked it profusely, then drove to a neighbouring phone booth to call Rita. I was so excited, I had to tell someone the news.
A western meadowlark, a quintessential bird of the grasslands, had given me a memory I will never forget.