Friday, August 7, 2009

The sweet little song of a Henslow's Sparrow can stop anyone in their tracks...

Crossing through the grass of the High Meadow, I was trying to follow the erratic path of a Monarch butterfly who apparently was on a mission that did not include stopping at photogenic flowers to sip nectar and be photographed, but instead required a hasty retreat over the closest hill. Feeling just the tiniest bit defeated, I marveled at how quickly he could get from here to there…and how “quickly” I couldn't, but in a flash, a very gentle “tsi-lick” froze me in my tracks and quickened my heart. The song I had heard off in the distance earlier was suddenly very near, and a small brown bird jumped up and dove for cover, skimming over grasses and landing no more than ten feet in front of me. I watched as he nervously twitched and dipped on a Bradford Pear sapling, surveying his territory, vigilant of predators. He almost seemed tame as I stood there, so I did nothing when I felt the first tings of water on my hands and arms. If a gentle rain shower was not going to bother him, it wasn't going to bother me either, and we both stayed put--me looking at him always; he looking at me occasionally. When the drops stopped, his song started back up even heartier than before.








The soft, little song of a Henslow's Sparrow slows you down. It is gentle and sweet…and relaxing. Standing in grass up to my waist as I studied his bill and lovely feather patterns, I could feel all the “bigger” stimuli in the field and in my mind dropping away. Suddenly I could see myriad tiny grasshoppers all around, hopping here and there between blades of grass, food for the Henslow's Sparrows no doubt, and invisible to us most of the time as our minds run at normal speeds.

36 comments:

Elaine said...

Kelly, these are gorgeous! Good thing that Monarch got away and you weren't concentrating on it so hard that you missed the Henslow's Sparrow song.

flyingstars said...

WoW...some beautifully captured shots!

Little Brown Job said...

Beautiful images Kelly!

Sue said...

Kelly, not only are your pictures wonderful, but your dialog puts me "right there" with you. We are all lucky to have you out there, capturing nature.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend,
Sue

Abraham Lincoln said...

These photos are tack sharp. I think they are the best I have ever seen of this bird and makes me wonder why somebody don't use photos like this. How many bird books do you have that have some terrible photography in them. I have at least 3 by Audubon. The Stokes books are much much better.

Anyway, it is so nice to see some birds other than sparrows. Although I do have two chickadees in my backyard now but where the others are is a mystery.

Midmarsh John said...

Cracking photos of the Henslow's Sparrow Kelly. Lovely word portrait of your activity. That really brought it to life.

Laure Ferlita said...

A word portrait - as John says! I've been struggling to come up with an appropriate description but I believe that is it. You're word portraits are every bit as beautiful as the creatures in your photos!

Your talents seem to have no limits - lucky for us that you are so willing to share!

Kerri said...

What a lovely bird! Your pics are amazing! I would love to know what camera/lenses you are using and if you are digiscoping.
And your writing is amazing!

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, absolutely terrific photos. So sharp and clearn and nice background. He's beautiful.

Nick S said...

Lovely Kelly. I have never seen nor heard one !

Gabrielle said...

Ahh, Zen and the Art of the Henslow Sparrow.

Once again, beautiful photos!

HBFG said...

What a nice post, yes we do "miss" a lot if we don't get the chance (or get reminded) to slow down a bit....

JKoenig said...

Beautiful pictures...beautiful bird!

Warren Baker said...

You've been busy this week Kelly. Took me ages to catch up!
Are the Autumn migrants passing back through your way yet?

Dave Lewis said...

I think these are the best photos I've ever seen of a Henslow's!

Jenny said...

I couldn't agree with Sue more! Wonderful crisp photos Kelly. When you know the songs, it opens up a whole new world. (-:

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Beautiful post, Kelly. I know exactly what you mean when you said all the other biggger stimuli fade away. I love that feeling! Your photography inspires me!

Andy Wilson said...

I certainly cannot add any more descriptors of such wonderful images. 5 stars!

Tim Rucci said...

Wow, Shelly! Outstanding photos! I love the colors and the crispness, as well as the clean background. What a beautiful bird. You really got close.

Ginnymo said...

What beautiful photos Kelly!!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kel, I have enjoyed catching up on your posts for the week. You saw so many gorgeous birds and other 'bugs'... I'd love to see and hear that Henslow's Sparrow.

We're home from a great vacation.. I'll post in the morning.
Hugs,
Betsy

Steve Willson said...

Really enjoyed your Henslow's Sparrow shots. I have these singing in my fields for several weeks each spring, but they never seem to stay and nest. When I hear them next spring, I'll think back to your images.

Kelly said...

Elaine...so true. I've never been so close to a Henslow's...ever!!

flyingstars...thank you!!

Paul....thank you!

Sue...you are too kind. I just write about what I see. I was sooooo lucky to get so close to this bird. He was gorgeous. I doubt I'll ever be that close again.

Abe...gosh!!! Thank you! Again...too kind. It's all because of proximity. I stood there for 45 minutes while he flew close and then far...and then close....it was a great experience.

John....thank you so much. Word portrait is so nice. I guess my memory is so terrible, I have to record it all as it happened so I'll be able to remember it 6 months from now!

Laure....you are too nice. I just love writing about birds. Thank goodness there are so many bird lovers out there!!! It's nice to know others love birds just as much as I do. (Talk about talent, your artwork blows me away!)

Kerri...I've got it posted in the sidebar (and I'll send an email). Thank you so much....way too kind. I wish all the birds would come so close!

Mona...thank you. So sweet. I doubt I'll ever be that close again. I totally fell in love with him.

Nick...come on down to VOA--plenty to go around! :-) Thank you. He's such a special bird.

Gabrielle...I like that. I thought I was just "using the Force," but Zen and the Art sounds better! Thank you...

Mischi...thank you. Slowing down is such a luxury, but it's also a necessity. I loved the experience.

Janice...thank you!!

Warren...Welcome back. The migrants are just starting to ramp up. I haven't seen any, although the Sedge Wren is kind of a migrant, possibly moving east for it's second brood. It will all start happening soon!

Dave...wow! thank you very much. So nice. Man....I'll never be able to do it again....just right light, background, proximity. They definitely beat my first captures of the Henslow's!!

Jenny...thank you. It sure does. I'm slowly adding more and more songs to my list. Today at Armleder I heard Indigo Buntings. I was so happy to recognize the call....

Adrienne....I love that feeling too.....the mind slows down and you feel peace. thank you....

Andy...yeah! That's the first time I ever received 5 stars! Thank you!

Tim...I was so close because I'm just using that 70-200mm lens (with the 2x tc). I was probably under 10 feet. It was so exciting!!

Ginny...thank you!!

Betsy....welcome home! Look forward to your vaca posts. Thank you!!

Steve...Thank you! I hope they keep coming back, but the habitat is starting to degrade....too many saplings, too much teasel, and not enough money to cut or burn the fields. Succession happens so quickly....

holdingmoments said...

What a beauty; and superb captures Kelly. I love his little yellow eyestripe.

ShySongbird said...

What beautiful photos of a really lovely little bird Kelly.

Jayne said...

I've never seen one Kelly, and you did a beautiful job capturing his essence. :c)

Chris Petrak said...

Terrific photos of Henslow's - right about the song - not much, but very clear and distinctive. The one I saw in Mass was so distant that w/o the song it would have simply been an LBJ - not even close to the clarity & detail you have. How fortunate!

Mary said...

You have a wonderful ability to find birds and get great photos of them! I would love to be creeping along with you and seeing all these wonderful birds....but seeing them in your blog is great, too :-)

Roy said...

Its also a lovely little bird Kelly.

♥ Kathy♥ said...

Oh what a beautiful little bird. Those pictures are perfect. Great post Kelly. =)

DEEPENDRA said...

What a lovely bird! n equally gorgeous images. simply loved it.

dAwN said...

Awesome post Kelly! Your photos of the Henslows are great!
Here I am catching up on your blog..have been a bit behind!
Thanks for stopping by mine!

Balue'z said...

such a besutiful pics........

Steve B said...

I don't know about the song, but these photos stopped me in my tracks!

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

You sure have a very good eye of photography. Lovely pictures!!

Slow and Beautiful — Snail

RuthieJ said...

OMG I just gasped when those pictures came up on my monitor! What a beautiful little sparrow! I wonder if I still have a chance to find one of these rare beauties in Minnesota this summer?