My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

  • Daisy
  • Yellow
  • Mourning dove
  • Black-bellied plover, winter plumage
  • Herring gull
  • Common Tern, Sterna hirundo
  • Unidentified spider
  • Dawn on the ducks
  • Monday's sunrise 2
  • Mandarin duck from Asia

Latest

Little did I know

Little did I know that when I made the change from film photography to digital photography that I’d have to expand my knowledge of computers, and make considerable purchases of computing accessories. I have my 27 inch iMac back! I was getting lost for the first few minutes of using it again, the screen is huge compared to the Macbook pro I’ve been using the past week.

The technician thinks that a bad memory module corrupted the operating system. All that they had to do was to re-install the operating system. Then, restore everything using the latest back-up to my computer that Time Machine had made. It was after that they discovered that one of the memory modules that I had installed some time ago had a number of bad blocks in it.

Thanks to my zealous program of backing everything up, and Apple’s Time Machine, it’s truly as if nothing had happened. Everything is exactly as I had it set-up before, and best of all, I have my full Lightroom catalog intact! Whew, what a relief!

In a worst case scenario, I could have plugged the external drive where I store my photos into the Macbook pro to access the original RAW captures with no editing or keywords to help me find the photos that I was looking for. What also would have been gone are the collections that I made to sort my best photos of certain subjects from all of the not so good photos of the same subjects. It would have been worse than starting over from scratch, something that I wasn’t looking forward to if it came down to that.

Besides my Lightroom catalog, I would have lost some of the other files on my computer, including the spreadsheet that I use as my list of species for the My Photo Life List project, as well as the progress that I’ve made so far.

So, during the time when I didn’t have access to the iMac, I’ve been think about different ways to do even a better job of backing everything that I absolutely need backed up and ready to go if the need ever arrises again.

I still haven’t been able to get Lightroom to make a back-up copy of my catalog to either of the external hard drives that I use for storing my photos. However, I have been able to back the catalog up to a thumb drive that I have, and even better, to my iCloud account. The iCloud account is 5 Gb of online space that Apple allows purchasers of their products to use. So, that takes care of that problem for now. As long as I can access the Internet, I’ll always have a back-up copy of my Lightroom catalog, and the other important files that I have on my computer.

Before I forget, they charged me $75 to check everything out, re-install the operating system, and do the restore. In some ways that seems rather expensive for what they did, but on the other hand, having the entire system checked out on the proper test equipment as well as cleaned makes it worth it to me.

Another bonus is that I learned a great deal more about both of my computers, and I grew quite fond of the Macbook pro after using it for a week. In addition, I learned some new to me features in Lightroom that I’ll be trying out soon.

I suppose that I should get around to the photos for this post, and I’ll start with one from last summer.

Daisy

Daisy

That’s because the weather here continues to be quite dreary whenever I have the time to make it outside with my camera. I’ll go back in time for this one as well.

Damselfly

Damselfly

Now then, back to reality.

Snowy sunrise

Snowy sunrise

The weather forecast for that day was for the holes in the clouds to open up, but instead, they closed, making the rest of the day as dreary as it could be. I did shoot a deer on the run though.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

And, I found a pair of eagles arguing over who was going to lay claim on the landfill for the day.

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

It was hard to keep the auto-focus system locked on the eagles with so many gulls all around the eagles.

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

I did the best that I could though.

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

 

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

 

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

Bald eagles fighting for territory as gulls look on

It’s a lot easier to get a single eagle in flight.

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

Despite the lack of light, I got the best images of a rough-legged hawk in flight that I’ve ever gotten

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

I didn’t have to crop these very much at all.

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

If only there had been a little more light.

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Or blue skies instead of the grey clouds.

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

So, let’s see what else I have saved from just before my computer crashed.

Glowing leaf

Glowing leaf

That’s right, I did catch a few rays of sunshine around home after work one day.

Rose leaves in the sun

Rose leaves in the sun

This is far from my best photo of a fox squirrel, but I haven’t posted one lately, so here goes.

Fox squirrel with lunch

Fox squirrel with lunch

Here’s a bird that I don’t post enough photos of…

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

…because it’s hard to catch one in the open and in a good position for a photo. This one doesn’t really qualify as a good photo, but it will have to do for now.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Now that I have my home computer back up and running, I’ll get back to posting to the My Photo Life List project soon, but in the meantime, let’s go back to Halloween, when I shot these. Some will appear familiar because they’re similar to photos I posted earlier, but they’re not duplicates.

Halloween sunrise

Halloween sunrise

These are the second best versions of photos that I posted earlier.

Halloween sunrise 2

Halloween sunrise 2

Or, things that didn’t make the cut when I did my earlier posts.

Whitetail deer on the run

Whitetail deer on the run

 

Whitetail deer on the run

Whitetail deer on the run

 

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

 

Green-winged teal

Green-winged teal

 

Bald eagle

Bald eagle

These were shot at the time when I was working out the final settings that I use now for birds in flight.

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

You can see that these aren’t quite as sharp as some of my photos since then.

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

 

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

I don’t know why it is, but it’s very hard for me to get a sharp photo of a snow bunting.

Snow bunting

Snow bunting

Maybe it’s their color, or maybe it’s because it’s rare for them to ever stop moving. Mallards are much easier to get a sharp photo of, even when they’re moving.

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

But, you can see that the exposure settings that I used then resulted in the highlights under their wings to be blown out in some images.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

I had the same problem with gulls.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

The highlights in the gull’s “armpit” were blown out. I have the opposite problem with dark birds in flight.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Which is why I’ve come up with several sets of bird in flight settings that I have now stored in the custom settings of the 7D.

While not birds in flight, I have a few more older photos to use up in this post.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

It’s nice when a bird poses so well for me.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

 

Male common yellowthroat

Male common yellowthroat

It’s now Saturday afternoon, and I did make it out for a walk after work. None of the few photos that I shot were very good, it was another dark, dreary day, with a few snow pellets falling from time to time. However, I mentioned earlier that I had found some features in Lightroom that I had looked for in the past but not found until I was using my Macbook computer. One of those is the ability to stitch photos together to make a panorama, and here’s my first attempt at it.

Panorama test

Panorama test

Lightroom did all the hard work of aligning the two images up, and it was quite easy to do. I hope to shoot a few other photos this weekend to try it out more, but that may not happen. The forecast for tomorrow is for our first snow storm of the season, even though it won’t be much of a storm, just a few inches of snow. Next weekend is when the real cold and snow is forecast to hit here in Michigan.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

I’m beginning this post on Thanksgiving Day, using my little Macbook pro for now. The weather today is about the same as it has been all week, grey, cold, gloomy, with light fog and drizzle. Hardly a good day for photography, unless I was shooting landscapes, which seems a little pointless right now.

Maybe it was the rapid change in the weather, but I’m feeling a little under it today, and I didn’t want to carry very much with me while I went for a walk around home. I shot 4 photos total, 2 versions each of these two images.

Yellow

Yellow

 

Red

Red

I suppose that I could have driven around somewhere to find a few landscapes worth shooting, but this little Macbook leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to editing photos in Lightroom, plus, I don’t have Photomatix installed on it to make truly good landscape photos.

I didn’t really feel like driving anyway, I did have the day off from work, for what it’s worth. I slept in an hour or two longer than usual, and after drinking some coffee, catching up on things on the Internet, and cleaning my apartment, I went back to bed and slept a couple of hours more until it got light outside. Then I went for the walk, which even though I didn’t see many things to photograph, was a very pleasant one despite the gloomy weather.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not, I needed a day to relax and not do very much when I’m usually so pressed for time. It’s been so long since I had a lazy day, that I’ve forgotten how to have one.ūüėČ

I did miss the large screen of the 27 inch iMac when I did what little editing to the photos from today that I posted so far, but I’m looking at this situation as a blessing in disguise. The way things are going, I’ll be able to get this Macbook pro and the version of Lightroom that I have installed on it set-up the way that I want. That way, when I do go on trips, I won’t be fooling around with those details at that time. I may not be able to do any major editing, but I can sort through the photos and delete the poor ones, and flag the best of the rest of the photos for further editing on the iMac when I’m back home. I had forgotten how much I had customized Lightroom with presets. Not only that, I’ve forgotten how to make the presets that I’ve been using on the iMac.

As bad as things are with my large iMac down, things could have been much worse. At least I have all of my photos saved, on not one but two external drives, and I did have Apple’s Time Machine set-up to back up the computer full-time. Hopefully, when I do get the iMac back, it will be as if nothing had happened.

Anyway, I did a short day at work on Saturday, and despite the clouds and occasional drizzle, I went for a walk. I didn’t shoot many photos, due to the weather, and I’m not sure how good these that I did save really are.

Goldenrod gall

Goldenrod gall

I was playing, learning just how much depth of field that I have with the new 100-400 mm lens for that photo.

For this one, I was going to try to catch the blue jay in flight, but it went the wrong way when it did take off.

Blue jay on sumac

Blue jay on sumac

I’m still working on my very low-light settings also.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

With millions of leaves on the ground, why this one caught my eye, I don’t know, but it did.

Sycamore leaf

Sycamore leaf

Another close-up of a goldenrod gall as another test.

Goldenrod gall

Goldenrod gall

I actually had fair light for this next one, but in the wrong direction. As soon as I moved to get a better view of the squirrel, it took off.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

My only other bird photos were of a flock of goldfinches feeding on teasel seeds, but too far away for a good photo of any of them.

American goldfinch eating teasel seeds

American goldfinch eating teasel seeds

The weatherman says that we may see some sun on Sunday for the first time in a week, I sure hope so.

The weatherman was wrong for the most part. There were a few holes in the clouds as I arrived at the wastewater facility just before dawn, but they soon closed up for most of the day. There were a few more holes in the clouds around 2 PM, and I did see a few patches of blue sky, but most of the day was just as dreary as the past week has been.

So, between my having to edit these on my little Macbook, and the lack of light, I’m not sure how good the photos that I shot are. I know that this one is horrible, but it’s of a Cooper’s hawk pretending to be the peregrine falcon that been hanging around the wastewater facility the past few weeks.

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

I thought that it was the falcon until I got home and edited that image. That’s when I saw the banded tail and knew it was a Cooper’s hawk.

Later, I tracked down the peregrine falcon, it was perched on the exhaust of the grain drying equipment, probably to stay warm on a chilly day.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Despite the low-light, I shot a photo of both an eared grebe…

Eared grebe

Eared grebe

…and a horned grebe…

Horned grebe

Horned grebe

…just because I hadn’t photographed either species recently. Too bad both of them are in their winter plumage, they’re very striking birds in the spring.

I didn’t see any swans on this day, but I did see the same 4 snow geese that hide out in the middle of thousands of Canada geese. First, early in the morning while they were still in the lagoon…

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

…that’s the wide version not cropped, here the snow geese are in a cropped photo.

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

Later, after the geese had left the lagoon to feed in one of the farm fields, I saw the snow geese with the Canada geese again.

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

That’s just a small portion of the huge flock of Canada geese, and there were more arriving all the time.

More geese arriving to add to the flock

More geese arriving to add to the flock

I didn’t attempt to count the geese, but my guess would be somewhere around 5,000 of them, I’ve never seen a flock as large as that one before, not even at the wastewater facility.

It’s 4 AM on Monday morning as I’m typing this section of the post, it’s 38 degrees (3 C) outside, with a line of heavy rain just arriving into the area. You’ll have to forgive me, but it looks as though I’ll be staying indoors today. I wouldn’t mind a light rain or drizzle, but I see no reason to go out and get soaked to the bone on a day like today. That means more bad photos from yesterday though, as they’re all that I have available to me until I get my iMac back.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

I also saw one of the adult bald eagles…

Bald eagle

Bald eagle

…but it refused to pose for me, so that was the best that I could do.

I worked on my settings for birds in flight in low-light…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

 

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

…not too bad, but I think that I can still do a little better.

I finally gave up at the wastewater facility, and drove over to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, hoping to find a few small birds that I could get close to. I had limited success at that, I think that Brian’s bird banding this fall has made the birds more wary of humans than normal. The poor light didn’t help either, these are the best I could do, no matter how hard I tried.

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

Female house finch

Female house finch

 

Female house finch

Female house finch

Usually, when birds are actively feeding, I can eventually get a good photo of them, but it was tough going on this day. I added the 1.4 X tele-converter behind the 100-400 mm lens for this next batch, I’m undecided if that was a mistake or not.

Female house finch

Female house finch

 

Male house finch

Male house finch

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Male house finch

Male house finch

The tele-converter meant that I had to crop these images less, but I was having trouble getting sharp photos while using it. It could have been because of the light, those were shot during the time I mentioned earlier, when a few holes opened up in the clouds. Rather than making things easier, it became more difficult, as what little sunshine that there was only brightened the clouds behind the birds more than the birds themselves. The overpowering light coming off from the bright clouds made it extremely difficult to get the exposure correct.

Anyway, rather than harp on the poor light any longer, here’s two photos from the MLNP that aren’t of birds.

Buttonbush seeds

Buttonbush seeds

 

Oriental bittersweet berries?

Oriental bittersweet berries?

My next stop was the Muskegon Lake channel to Lake Michigan, I hoped to find a few diving ducks there. Instead, all I found was a lone male mallard.

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

I used the 1.4 X extender for those also, just to get better at using it behind the 100-400 mm lens. As with everything, there’s a learning curve that comes with it, and I haven’t used that combination very much so far. I also shot this with it.

Yellow in a sea of brown

Yellow in a sea of brown

It was a boring day as far as photography, other than having to work extra hard to get bad photos, and most of you know what I do on boring days, shoot gulls.

Herring gull taking flight

Ring-billed gull taking flight

One day, all the practice photos that I shoot of gulls will pay-off.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

I love the fact that now I can get the eye of a flying bird as sharp as the eyes of perched birds in my photos were just a year or two ago. And, when a bird is perched and conditions are right…

Herring gull

Herring gull

…I can get images like that last one. Maybe I should give up on everything else and shoot photos of nothing but mallards and gulls.ūüėČ Of course I’m just kidding, but by the time that winter sets in for real, that may be about all that I find to photograph for a while.

That’s why I started posting to the My Photo Life List project again, but until I get my iMac back, I can’t do any of those posts. All the images that I have sorted by species left to post are stored on that computer. I suppose that I could plug the external drive that my photos are stored on into my Macbook, but then, I’d have to sort through thousands of photos to find the images that I need for those posts.

If I needed any more bad news, the weather forecast for the next week is just as bad as it has been lately, cloudy with rain everyday for the foreseeable future.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Winter arrives here in West Michigan

It will be difficult to top the photos from my last post, at least for a while. The long-range winter forecasts are not looking good for my efforts to get even better photos than I have been getting. The warm summer, and very mild fall have left the water temperatures of the Great Lakes well above average, which means that as the colder air from Canada makes its way across the lakes, we’ll be left with near constant lake effect clouds and snow until the lakes cool off.

On Friday, we tied our record high temperature record of 70F (21 C) with bright sunny skies. On Saturday, the temperature hovered near freezing with snow and rain being driven by winds over 30 MPH (48 KPH). I did drive over to the Lake Michigan shore on Saturday after work, hoping to get some good photos of the waves crashing over various things there, but it was snowing so heavily that photos were next to impossible.

I did get the furniture from the spare bedroom in my apartment back in place since they finally got around to almost finishing everything required after the water leak in the spare bedroom. I haven’t moved my computer back into the spare bedroom yet, I may wait until next Saturday to do that.

Since I won’t be shooting as many photos over the winter months, I have begun posting to the My Photo Life List series once again, as many of you may have noticed. I have photos of 30 species of birds to put into those posts that I’ve shot over the last two years. All of the species have appeared here in my blog when I first found them, but I haven’t gotten around to doing a dedicated post on those species yet. I’m very close to being 2/3 of the way through the list that I’m working from, maybe I’ll pick up enough of our winter resident only species to get me to the 2/3 mark this winter.

In theory, I should be able to get to the 300 species mark here in West Michigan, but that would be if I managed to find and photograph every species that has ever been reported here, and that isn’t likely to happen. My odds will be much better if I spend more time in the parts of Michigan where most of the remaining species that I need to complete the list are found in greater numbers, and for longer periods of time than they are found here, as many were just passing through this area when they were reported before.

That brings me to another point, I don’t want to spend the years that I have left to work before I retire buying more camera gear. I’d like to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors much sooner than when I retire, rather than working as much as I can to pay for more camera gear. So, I have made major revisions to the wish list that I have, and my plans for when I purchase what remains on that list. This revision was prompted in part by what I have learned the past few weeks, and because I was trying to decide what to buy for myself as a Christmas present.

I was going to start by upgrading my wide-angle lenses, however, I have decided that it wasn’t the wisest thing to do. Both of the wide-angle lenses on my wish list are brand new offerings by Canon and Sigma, meaning that I would be paying full price for them. By this time next year, I’ll bet that I can find both of those lenses on sale and save a few hundred dollars if I wait. Besides, why upgrade lenses for landscapes at a time when I’m not shooting many landscape photos?

Then, I thought that I should purchase the gimbal head for my tripod. As I was photographing the kingfisher from my last post, I tried holding the camera up until the kingfisher took flight to photograph it taking off, but I couldn’t hold the camera up that long. So, I reasoned that now would be a good time to purchase the gimbal head, so that I could keep the camera on the bird for as long as it sat in one place, and get photos of it taking off too. But, winter is setting in, and I know that I’m not going to stand around freezing to get an image that I could just as easily get during the warmer months and remain comfortable while I do.

So, going down my wish list, I took a good, long, hard look at what I had put on it, and what I really need versus what I’d like to have, all in the context of my recent photos, and comparing them to others that I have seen by other photographers. I also took into account my own abilities as well.

From using the 100-400 mm lens with the 2 X tele-converter, I know that 800 mm of focal length is about all that I can manage while holding the lens in my hands. Yes, I could go longer if I used my tripod, but that isn’t always possible for me the way that I go about getting the photos that I do. Also, it’s much better to get closer and use a shorter length lens than it is to stay back and use a longer lens. If I can get good head and shoulder photos of birds with the camera gear that I have now…

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

…then, there’s really no reason for me to spend the rest of my life working to pay for an even longer lens. I shot that photo a few weeks ago, not long after I had begun using the 100-400 mm lens, my images have improved since then.

I almost hate going back through the photos that I have saved from over the summer and posting them now, but with the weather as bad as it’s been so far this weekend, I have little choice.

Damselfly

Damselfly

Besides, I’m already missing seeing these things…

Orange hawkweed?

Orange hawkweed?

…and I won’t see them again until next spring.

I did go to the Muskegon County wastewater facility yesterday to look for birds in the snow.

Drastic weather change

Drastic weather change

The biggest surprise was hundreds of swans! These are part of a larger flock in the west lagoon…

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans

…these are a small flock from the east lagoon…

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans

…I was hoping to make a positive ID with a close-up…

Tundra or trumpeter swan

Tundra or trumpeter swan

…but I still can’t say for sure which species they were, there could have been both species, as this is part of a larger flock also in the east lagoon.

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans with a few geese and other waterfowl

The swans were probably forced to land due to the storm that blew through here on Saturday, I’ve never seen so many of them in one place before, no matter which species they were.

Since the light was horrible all day, I spent some time working on my low-light bird in flight settings.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

Gulls almost always are obliging subjects to practice on.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

But, I wish that the light had been better for this one.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

Great timing on my part, but the lack of light meant that it was all for nothing.

Suppose that the same thing applies to this next series as well. I spotted a young bald eagle hunting.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

It was using the wind to provide lift as it looked for possible prey below it.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

I’ve seen crows mob hawks, and there’s nothing that they go after as hard as an owl, but I seldom see them bother eagles.

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

Of course on a day when there was poor light…

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

…I see the crows doing just that, mobbing an eagle, even catching a ride on the eagle’s back now and then.

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

There were times when I thought that the crows were teasing the eagle.

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

I kept the eagle in the viewfinder, and the auto-focus tracking it, and whenever I saw a crow enter the frame, I’d fire off a short burst.

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

If only it had been a sunny day!

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

I know, too many photos of the eagle and crows, but it isn’t often that I’m close enough to such action to get even the poor photos that I did.

News flash!

My 27 inch iMac will no longer boot up. That means that for the time being, I have no access to my photos, which is no big deal, since I didn’t shoot a single good photo this entire weekend. All of the actual photos are stored on one external drive, and backed up on another external drive, so they are safe. I’ve also been using Apple’s Time Machine to back up the iMac to one of the external drives as well.

I’ve spoken to some one at a computer repair establishment, and they believe that once they have fixed the reason that the computer won’t boot up, that they’ll be able to restore everything from the Time Machine back-ups, including my Lightroom catalog, so that it will be as if the crash never happened, even if it is the computer’s hard drive that failed. I sure hope so. Otherwise, I’d have the RAW images, but none of the editing that I’ve done to them.

At this point, I’m sure glad that I went a little overboard in not only backing up in the first place, but in having a redundant back-up as well. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to lose all my photos. I could plug the external drives into the Macbook pro and work in Lightroom on it, but with this small screen, it just wouldn’t be the same.

For the time being, I’m using my little Macbook pro, and I haven’t used it very much up to this point. You could say that I’m getting a crash course in using it, as well as getting it set-up the way that I want. It’s also taking me some time to recover all of my Internet links, passwords, and those sorts of things, so I’m very busy. I haven’t had a lot of spare time to read or comment on other people’s blog the way that I should, but please, bear with me as I work things out on my end.

I am thinking that when this is all over, and my iMac is up and running again, that I should look into one of the cloud based back-ups available. Not for all of my photos, but for my Lightroom catalog and the other important files and settings of my computer. It would take too long and be too expensive to back-up my photos to the cloud, two hard drives work well enough for that.

I hope that my iMac is back up and running sometime next week, with Thanksgiving occurring this week, the computer repair place will be closed both Thursday and Friday.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

The grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola), known as the black-bellied plover in North America, is a medium-sized plover breeding in Arctic regions. It is a long-distance migrant, with a nearly worldwide coastal distribution when not breeding.

They are 27‚Äď30 cm (11‚Äď12 in) long with a wingspan of 71‚Äď83 cm (28‚Äď33 in) and a weight of 190‚Äď280 g (6.7‚Äď9.9 oz) (up to 345 g (12.2 oz) in preparation for migration). In spring and summer (late April or May to August), the adults are spotted black and white on the back and wings. The face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and belly and a white rump. The tail is white with black barring. The bill and legs are black. They moult to winter plumage in mid August to early September and retain this until April; this being a fairly plain grey above, with a grey-speckled breast and white belly. The juvenile and first-winter plumages, held by young birds from fledging until about one year old, are similar to the adult winter plumage but with the back feathers blacker with creamy white edging. In all plumages, the inner flanks and axillary feathers at the base of the underwing are black, a feature which readily distinguishes it from the other three Pluvialis species in flight. On the ground, it can also be told from the other Pluvialis species by its larger (24‚Äď34 mm (0.94‚Äď1.34 in)), heavier bill.

Their breeding habitat is Arctic islands and coastal areas across the northern coasts of Alaska, Canada, and Russia. They nest on the ground in a dry open tundra with good visibility; the nest is a shallow gravel scrape. Four eggs (sometimes only three) are laid in early June, with an incubation period of 26‚Äď27 days; the chicks fledge when 35‚Äď45 days old.

They migrate to winter in coastal areas throughout the world. In the New World they winter from southwest British Columbia and Massachusetts south to Argentina and Chile, in the western Old World from Britain and southwestern Norway south throughout coastal Africa to South Africa, and in the eastern Old World, from southern Japan south throughout coastal southern Asia and Australia, with a few reaching New Zealand. Most of the migrants to Australia are female. It makes regular non-stop transcontinental flights over Asia, Europe, and North America, but is mostly a rare vagrant on the ground in the interior of continents, only landing occasionally if forced down by severe weather, or to feed on the coast-like shores of very large lakes such as the Great Lakes, where it is a common passage migrant.

Young birds do not breed until two years old; they typically remain on the wintering grounds until their second summer.

They forage for food on beaches and tidal flats, usually by sight. The food consists of small molluscs, polychaete worms, crustaceans, and insects. It is less gregarious than the other Pluvialis species, not forming dense feeding flocks, instead feeding widely dispersed over beaches, with birds well spaced apart. They will however form dense flocks on high tide roosts.

 

On to my photos:

These photos were shot on a number of my visits to the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility over the past few years.

Black-bellied plover, winter plumage

Black-bellied plover, winter plumage

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

Black-bellied Plover, Pluvialis squatarola

 

This is number 198 in my photo life list, only 152 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

wordpress_logo_post_whenever2

For my next trick

It’s been a slow weekend so far, so I spent some time on Sunday, testing various lens/tele-converter combinations out to see which one would produce the best portraits…

Herring gull

Herring gull

…and which would do the best on birds in flight.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

Without boring every one with the details and the many photos that I shot, the way that it worked out is that the 100-400 mm lens and the 70-200 mm lens are about equal for bird portraits with or without a tele-converter behind it. The herring gull portrait was shot with the 100-400 mm lens and 2 X tele-converter and manually focused. The flying herring gull was shot with the 70-200 mm lens and no extender.

I found that the 100-400 mm lens will match the sharpness of the 70-200 mm lens for birds in flight, as long as I turn the Image Stabilization of the lens off completely.

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

That confirms what I had been thinking for a while now, even the best Image Stabilization still interferes with getting super sharp images of subjects in motion, at least for me. The 100-400 mm lens is one of Canon’s newest, with what’s supposed to be their best IS ever. The 70-200 mm lens that I have is one of Canon’s oldest lenses still on the market, and it has no IS at all. As long as I keep the shutter speed fast enough, turning the IS off on the 100-400 mm lens produces the sharpest images. That is, if I have the time to turn the IS off, which is time that I don’t always have.

The 70-200 mm lens doesn’t have IS, so I don’t have to think about turning it off. On the other hand, even with the 1.4 X tele-converter, it’s unusual for me to get close enough to a subject for that lens to be a viable option. I didn’t think to try it with the 2 X extender, as that limits the number of focus points that I can use, and also disables some of the other features of the auto-focus system of the camera that I’ve come to rely on. However, I should at least give that combination a try, if for nothing more than a reference point or a lighter way of getting to 400 mm if I’m doing a very long hike.

During the last few trips that I’ve made to Muskegon lately, twice I have seen northern harriers and crows interacting. I haven’t figured out just exactly what is going on, if the harriers are trying to make a meal of a crow, or if they are only trying to drive the crows away. Or, it could be that the crows are mobbing a predator, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as I’ve watched the action. Unfortunately, both times that I’ve witnessed these two species interacting, it has been too far away for me to get good photos of what I saw.

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

 

Northern harrier and American crow

Northern harrier and American crow

 

Northern harrier and American crow

Northern harrier and American crow

 

Northern harrier and American crow

Northern harrier and American crow

 

Northern harrier and American crow

Northern harrier and American crow

 

Northern harrier and American crow

Northern harrier and American crow

Both times that I’ve seen these two species going at it, the harriers looked to be the one that started the fracas, but the crows quickly turned the tables on the harrier, ganging up on it and driving it away.

This week, I spotted the crows first, they were feeding peacefully in one of the recently harvested farm fields. The harrier came along and appeared to try to take one of the crows, which seems strange since the crows are almost as large as the harrier is. The crows turned on the harrier, and drove it from the field, then went back to eating. A few minutes later,¬†the harrier returned again. This was repeated several times. If the harrier was looking for a meal, then it seemed a huge waste of energy to take on another bird that’s almost as large as it is, and is an extremely skilled flier. In fact, this week I didn’t shoot many photos, as I just sat in awe watching the birds in flight. Both the harriers and the crows are good-sized birds, it’s amazing to watch how agile both species are in the air.

That plays into a quote that I recently read.

‚ÄúWhen I started my adventure in photography, I was suddenly introduced to the world around me. I can‚Äôt believe I have been so blind for too many years.” ~ Laura Tate Sutton

It’s also the reason that I’m putting so much effort into getting better images, to share the world that I see through the camera with the rest of the world.

Most people are familiar with crows, they look like large, lumbering birds in flight as they fly from one place to another. However, when they are mobbing a predator, their skill as a bird in flight is revealed. The same can be said of the predator that they are mobbing. Someday I hope to be close enough to the birds to truly capture just how agile they are in flight.

That quote also goes along with this image that I shot Sunday.

Herring gull yawning

Herring gull yawning

First, I was surprised by how far they can open their mouth, then, I began to see the details of their anatomy inside of their mouth and throat. I’ve never seen the details of the inside of a gull’s mouth before, it isn’t like ours, that’s for sure. I have no idea what the structures are at the base of the gull’s tongue are or what they are for, but I may find out someday, and I’ll know what they look like if I read an article about them.

I had been thinking that it was a slow weekend, I walked around home on both Friday and Saturday, and these photos show how spoiled I’ve become.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

 

Juvenile red-tailed hawk taking flight

Juvenile red-tailed hawk taking flight

 

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

 

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

 

American kestrel number 1

American kestrel number 1

 

American kestrel number 2

American kestrel number 2

I saw two species of hawks and two kestrels in one day around home, and I think that it’s a slow day. The tricks a person’s mind can play are amazing sometimes. That goes for memories as well. I thought that the maples here were very late in beginning to turn color this year, but this photo from Saturday…

Maple tree glowing in the sun

Maple tree glowing in the sun

…is almost exactly like one that I shot just one week earlier last year. So, the maples aren’t really any later in turning color than other years, it must be because the weather has been so nice here this year that my mind is playing tricks on me.

Here’s a few of the other photos from Saturday.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

 

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

 

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

 

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

So, not a bad day after all.

Monday, I went to Duck Lake to shoot the Super Moon as it set, but clouds ruined that idea.

The Super Moon setting over Lake Michigan

The Super Moon setting over Lake Michigan

But, the good news was that the clouds made for a great sunrise. These next three were shot with the 60D and EF S 15-85 mm lens, and are HDR images.

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 1

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 1

 

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 2

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 2

 

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 3

Sunrise over Duck Lake State Park 3

I also shot a few hand-held with the 7D and 100-400 mm lens.

Flaming sky

Flaming sky

 

Gull flying into the flame

Gull flying away from the flame

I then set-up to shoot the last vestiges of the sunrise over Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan as the sun rose

Lake Michigan as the sun rose

I thought about walking the trails at Duck Lake State Park, but that park is open to hunting, so I decided that Muskegon State Park would be a better option, hoping that I’d find something to photograph on the Lost Lake trail. I did.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

The only thing remarkable about these is that I shot them at ISO 12800, and they are sharp, with most of the detail intact within the images, despite the amount of noise reduction required.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

While these would have been better with more light, I can’t really complain about these, my low-light images continue to improve.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

One thing that I still don’t understand is why it is impossible at times to get a sharp image, even when everything seems to be good. I thought that I had great light when I shot this photo of a rough legged hawk.

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

I was using the 100-400 mm lens and 2 X tele-converter, which means that I was focusing manually. I tried many times to get the focus just right…

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

…and these are good, but even as I was looking through the viewfinder and focusing, I could never get the image that I saw as sharp as what it should have been. When you look at the first photo in this post, the herring gull, you can see what the lens/extender combination is capable of. The same applies to this image as well.

Male belted kingfisher

Male belted kingfisher

Of course I was closer to the gull, and that image was shot the previous day. But, I was closer to the hawk than the kingfisher, and those images were shot within an hour of one another. Every photo of the hawk is a tad bit soft, and I shot quite a few, and most of the images of the kingfisher…

Male belted kingfisher

Male belted kingfisher

…are quite sharp, despite how much that I cropped them. Same day, slightly different locations, but somewhat different results. As I watched the hawk through the viewfinder, I was rocking the focusing ring back and forth, trying to get the focus just right, but never did. For the kingfisher, it popped into focus, and I could sit and wait until it struck a good pose, then fire away.

Another thing that I’ll never understand is why two species of birds that are usually very wary both allowed me to get quite close, and shoot my best images ever of both species on the same day.

There was a kingfisher at Lost Lake that morning, and I tried stalking it, using a sand dune for cover as I approached where it was perched, but it was gone when I got to where I would have been able to see it if it had stayed where it had been. Knowing that they use the same perches over and over, I sat down behind some brush to wait for the kingfisher to return, it never did. It went around the lake several times, stopping at various places along the way, but it never returned to where I could have gotten a good photo of it, it must have known where I was hiding.

The same day, but at the wastewater facility, I find a kingfisher that allowed me to get very close to it several times, as you can see by the fact that it’s perched on different things in the two photos of it. In fact, I couldn’t believe my luck, and I returned later to see if it was as amicable as it had been earlier, and it was. It would sit until it saw a fish, dive to make the catch, then move on to different place to perch. I followed along, shooting more photos at each location.

Changing the subject, some of the male northern shovelers are getting close to having their full breeding plumage, so I thought that I’d try to get a good photo of one of them in flight.

Male northern shoveler being photo-bombed by mallards

Male northern shoveler being photo-bombed by mallards

But, a pair of mallards flying into the frame distracted me, so the shoveler was some distance away when I finally got this photo.

Male northern shoveler in flight

Male northern shoveler in flight

I have filled each of the three available custom control modes of my 7D Mk II with bird in flight set-ups. The first set-up that I saved works okay if the birds are the only thing in the frame other than the sky, as when I’m shooting up to get the bird, but those settings don’t work as well when I shoot at a low angle, like in the photos above. So, the other two customizable settings that I saved are close to being the same, but one is for good light, and the other for poor light. They work very well most of the time, especially for mostly dark birds like eagles and hawks, not so well for birds that are white, like gulls, or have a lot of white on them, like the ducks. So, I’m going to have to reprogram that first set-up with different exposure setting for when I’m shooting lighter birds, otherwise, I’m blowing out the highlights too often. Okay, that’s done, it was easy enough now that I’m used to doing it.

It will be interesting to see how those new settings work out, as I based them on the manual mode rather than shutter priority as I did for the other two set-ups. If this works as well as I hope it will, I’ll reprogram the other two customizable modes also. I was hoping that the register recall function that I can assign to several different buttons on the camera would do the same thing, only faster, but it won’t switch the camera mode. That does give me an idea though, as it pertains to getting better portrait shots. There, that’s taken care of.

If there were one feature that I would add to the 7D Mk II if I could, it would be the ability to store lens settings in the customizable modes. I’d love to be able to limit the focusing range and to turn the IS off with the turn of a dial or press of a button, rather than to have to set both the camera and the lens to the best settings for the photo that I’m going to shoot. Maybe some day Canon will make that possible.

Anyway, here’s a few of the other photos that I shot while walking the Lost Lake trail on Monday.

Beech leaves

Beech leaves and hemlocks

 

Oak leaves abstract

Oak leaves abstract

 

More beech leaves

More beech leaves

Well, that’s about it. I think that my next trick will be getting photos as good as these once more typical weather moves in. It’s been a glorious fall so far, with warm temperatures and lots of sun. That’s all forecast to end this weekend, darn. Rain, snow, and wind are supposed to hit the area on Saturday. I may have to spend one day moving all my stuff back into the room that had the water leak in it. They finally got around to finishing that job.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

The common tern (Sterna hirundo) is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar distribution, its four subspecies breeding in temperate and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. It is strongly migratory, wintering in coastal tropical and subtropical regions. Breeding adults have light grey upperparts, white to very light grey underparts, a black cap, orange-red legs, and a narrow pointed bill. Depending on the subspecies, the bill may be mostly red with a black tip or all black. There are a number of similar species, including the partly sympatric Arctic tern, which can be separated on plumage details, leg and bill colour, or vocalisations.

Breeding in a wider range of habitats than any of its relatives, the common tern nests on any flat, poorly vegetated surface close to water, including beaches and islands, and it readily adapts to artificial substrates such as floating rafts. The nest may be a bare¬†scrape¬†in sand or gravel, but it is often lined or edged with whatever debris is available. Up to three eggs may be laid, their dull colours and blotchy patterns providing¬†camouflage¬†on the open beach.¬†Incubation¬†is by both sexes, and the eggs hatch in around 21‚Äď22 days, longer if the colony is disturbed by predators. The downy chicks¬†fledge¬†in 22‚Äď28¬†days. Like most terns, this species feeds by plunge-diving for fish, either in the sea or in freshwater, but¬†molluscs,¬†crustaceans¬†and other¬†invertebrate¬†prey may form a significant part of the diet in some areas.

Eggs and young are vulnerable to predation by mammals such as rats and American mink, and large birds including gulls, owls and herons. Common terns may be infected by lice, parasitic worms, and mites, although blood parasites appear to be rare. Its large population and huge breeding range mean that this species is classed as being of least concern, although numbers in North America have declined sharply in recent decades. Despite international legislation protecting the common tern, in some areas populations are threatened by habitat loss, pollution or the disturbance of breeding colonies.

The ¬†common tern is 31‚Äď35¬†cm (12‚Äď14¬†in) long, including a 6‚Äď9¬†cm (2.4‚Äď3.5¬†in) fork in the tail, with a 77‚Äď98¬†cm (30‚Äď39¬†in) wingspan. It weighs 110‚Äď141¬†g (3.9‚Äď5.0¬†oz). Breeding adults have pale grey upperparts, very pale grey underparts, a black cap, orange-red legs, and a narrow pointed bill that can be mostly red with a black tip, or all black, depending on the subspecies. The common tern’s upperwings are pale grey, but as the summer wears on, the dark feather shafts of the outer¬†flight feathers¬†become exposed, and a grey wedge appears on the wings. The rump and tail are white, and on a standing bird the long tail extends no further than the folded wingtips, unlike the Arctic and roseate terns in which the tail protrudes beyond the wings. There are no significant differences between the sexes. In non-breeding adults the forehead and underparts become white, the bill is all black or black with a red base, and the legs are dark red or black. The upperwings have an obvious dark area at the front edge of the wing, the carpal bar. Terns that have not bred successfully may start¬†moulting¬†into non-breeding adult plumage from June, but late July is more typical, with the moult suspended during migration. There is also some geographical variation,¬†Californian¬†birds often being in non-breeding plumage during migration.

Juvenile common terns have pale grey upperwings with a dark carpal bar. The crown and¬†nape¬†are brown, and the forehead is ginger, wearing to white by autumn. The upperparts are ginger with brown and white scaling, and the tail lacks the adult’s long outer feathers. Birds in their first post-juvenile plumage, which normally remain in their wintering areas, resemble the non-breeding adult, but have a duskier crown, dark carpal bar, and often very worn plumage. By their second year, most young terns are either indistinguishable from adults, or show only minor differences such as a darker bill or white forehead.

The common tern is an agile flyer, capable of rapid turns and swoops, hovering, and vertical take-off. When commuting with fish, it flies close to the surface in a strong head wind, but 10‚Äď30¬†m (33‚Äď98¬†ft) above the water in a following wind. Unless migrating, normally it stays below 100¬†m (330¬†ft), and averages 30¬†km/h (19¬†mph) in the absence of a tail wind. Its average flight speed during the¬†nocturnal¬†migration flight is 43‚Äď54¬†km/h (27‚Äď34¬†mph) at a height of 1,000‚Äď3,000¬†m (3,300‚Äď9,800¬†ft).

The common tern breeds in colonies which do not normally exceed 2,000¬†pairs, but may occasionally number more than 20,000 pairs. Colonies inland tend to be smaller than on the coast. Common terns often nest alongside other coastal species, such as Arctic, roseate and¬†Sandwich terns,¬†black-headed gulls, and¬†black skimmers. Especially in the early part of the breeding season, for no known reason, most or all of the terns will fly in silence low and fast out to sea. This phenomenon is called a “dread”.
On their return to the breeding sites, the terns may loiter for a few days before settling into a territory, and the actual start of nesting may be linked to a high availability of fish. Terns defend only a small area, with distances between nests sometimes being as little as 50¬†cm (20¬†in), although 150‚Äď350¬†cm (59‚Äď138¬†in) is more typical. As with many birds, the same site is re-used year after year, with a record of one pair returning for 17 successive breeding seasons. Around 90% of experienced birds reuse their former territory, so young birds must nest on the periphery, find a bereaved mate, or move to another colony. A male selects a nesting territory a few days after his arrival in the spring, and is joined by his previous partner unless she is more than five days late, in which case the pair may separate.

The defence of the territory is mainly by the male, who repels intruders of either sex. He gives an alarm call, opens his wings, raises his tail and bows his head to show the black cap. If the intruder persists, the male stops calling and fights by bill grappling until the intruder submits by raising its head to expose the throat. Aerial trespassers are simply attacked, sometimes following a joint upward spiralling flight. Despite the aggression shown to adults, wandering chicks are usually tolerated, whereas in a gull colony they would be attacked and killed. The nest is defended until the chicks have fledged, and all the adults in the colony will collectively repel potential predators.

Pairs are established or confirmed through aerial courtship displays in which a male and a female fly in wide circles up to 200 m (660 ft) or more, calling all the while, before the two birds descend together in zigzag glides. If the male is carrying a fish, he may attract the attention of other males too. On the ground, the male courts the female by circling her with his tail and neck raised, head pointing down, and wings partially open. If she responds, they may both adopt a posture with the head pointed skywards. The male may tease a female with the fish, not parting with his offering until she has displayed to him sufficiently. Once courtship is complete, the male makes a shallow depression in the sand, and the female scratches in the same place. Several trials may take place until the pair settle on a site for the actual nest. The eggs may be laid on bare sand, gravel or soil, but a lining of debris or vegetation is often added if available,[44] or the nest may be rimmed with seaweed, stones or shells. The saucer-shaped scrape is typically 4 cm (1.6 in) deep and 10 cm (3.9 in) across, but may extend to as much as 24 cm (9.4 in) wide including the surrounding decorative material. Breeding success in areas prone to flooding has been enhanced by the provision of artificial mats made from eelgrass, which encourage the terns to nest in higher, less vulnerable areas, since many prefer the mats to bare sand. The common tern tends to use more nest material than roseate or Arctic terns, although roseate often nests in areas with more growing vegetation.

Terns are expert at locating their nests in a large colony. Studies show that terns can find and excavate their eggs when they are buried, even if the nest material is removed and the sand smoothed over. They will find a nest placed 5 m (16 ft) from its original site, or even further if it is moved in several stages.

The peak time for egg production is early May, with some birds, particularly first-time breeders, laying later in the month or in June. The¬†clutch¬†size is normally three eggs; larger clutches probably result from two females laying in the same nest. Egg size averages 41¬†mm √ó¬†31¬†mm (1.6¬†in √ó¬†1.2¬†in), although each successive egg in a clutch is slightly smaller than the first laid. The average egg weight is 20.2¬†g (0.71¬†oz), of which 5% is shell. The egg weight depends on how well-fed the female is, as well as on its position in the clutch. The eggs are cream,¬†buff, or pale brown, marked with streaks, spots or blotches of black, brown or grey which help to camouflage them. Incubation is by both sexes, although more often by the female, and lasts 21‚Äď22¬†days, extending to 25¬†days if there are frequent disturbances at the colony which cause the adults to leave the eggs unattended, nocturnal predation may lead to incubation taking up to 34¬†days. On hot days the incubating parent may fly to water to wet its belly feathers before returning to the eggs, thus affording the eggs some cooling. Except when the colony suffers disaster, 90% of the eggs hatch. The¬†precocial¬†downy¬†chick is yellowish with black or brown markings, and like the eggs, is similar to the equivalent stage of the Arctic tern. The chicks¬†fledge¬†in 22‚Äď28¬†days, usually 25‚Äď26. Fledged juveniles are fed at the nest for about five days, and then accompany the adults on fishing expeditions. The young birds may receive supplementary feeds from the parents until the end of the breeding season, and beyond. Common terns have been recorded feeding their offspring on migration and in the wintering grounds, at least until the adults move further south in about December.

Like many terns, this species is very defensive of its nest and young, and will harass humans, dogs, muskrats and most diurnal birds, but unlike the more aggressive Arctic tern, it rarely hits the intruder, usually swerving off at the last moment. Adults can discriminate between individual humans, attacking familiar people more intensely than strangers. Nocturnal predators do not elicit similar attacks, colonies can be wiped out by rats, and adults desert the colony for up to eight hours when great horned owls are present.

Like all¬†Sterna¬†terns, the common tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, from a height of 1‚Äď6¬†m (3.3‚Äď19.7¬†ft), either in the sea or in freshwater lakes and large rivers. The bird may submerge for a second or so, but to no more than 50¬†cm (20¬†in) below the surface. When seeking fish, this tern flies head-down and with its bill held vertically. It may circle or hover before diving, and then plunges directly into the water, whereas the Arctic tern favours a “stepped-hover” technique,[86]¬†and the roseate tern dives at speed from a greater height, and submerges for longer. The common tern typically forages up to 5‚Äď10¬†km (3.1‚Äď6.2¬†mi) away from the breeding colony, sometimes as far as 15¬†km (9.3¬†mi). It will follow schools of fish, and its west African migration route is affected by the location of huge shoals of¬†sardines off the coast of Ghana, it will also track groups of¬†predatory fish¬†or¬†dolphins, waiting for their prey to be driven to the sea’s surface. Terns often feed in flocks, especially if food is plentiful, and the fishing success rate in a flock is typically about one-third higher than for individuals.

Terns have red oil droplets in the¬†cone cells¬†of the¬†retinas¬†of their eyes. This improves contrast and sharpens distance¬†vision, especially in hazy conditions. Birds that have to see through an air/water interface, such as terns and gulls, have more strongly coloured¬†carotenoid¬†pigments¬†in the cone oil drops than other avian species. The improved eyesight helps terns to locate shoals of fish, although it is uncertain whether they are sighting the¬†phytoplankton¬†on which the fish feed, or observing other terns diving for food. Tern’s eyes are not particularly¬†ultraviolet¬†sensitive, an adaptation more suited to terrestrial feeders like the gulls.

On to my photos:

These photos were shot in May of 2015 at the channel at Grand Haven, Michigan.

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo

 

 

This is number 197 in my photo life list, only 153 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

wordpress_logo_post_whenever2

When I do retire

My plan is to have purchased all the photo gear that I’d like before I retire, then be able to spend as much time as possible outdoors, shooting photos. That sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot more to it than that. For one thing, there’s the weather to contend with, and how I deal with it. One of the things that I look forward to be able to do is to plan where I go and what I photograph around the weather that day.

Yesterday, which was Sunday, there was dense fog that lingered well past noon, making the day almost a complete bust for me. The sun had finally come out and burned off the last remnants of the fog at about the same time as I had to leave the Muskegon area and return home. I’m sure that I missed a great sunset from what I saw through the window here at home as I was going to bed.

Fog can be good for some landscape photography, but not fog as thick as it was yesterday. The visibility was close to zero in places, and I had a hard time negotiating my way around roads that are very familiar to me. If I hadn’t known exactly where I was going, I probably would have gotten lost. As it was, it seemed silly to be creeping along at less than 5 MPH looking for the correct place to turn. It was such a bust as far as photography that I gave up for a while and took a nap while parked as I waited for the fog to lift at least a little. But before I get hung up on yesterday, back to my plans for the future.

I’d like to travel, to see the places that I’ve already been in the past, such as Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies, along with the places that I haven’t been, like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Death Valley. While the wide-angle lenses that I have are fine for Michigan, I could use better ones for the spectacular scenery that I’ll find in those places. Also, I’d like to reduce the weight of my backpack that I carry my camera gear around in.

I thought that weight wouldn’t matter, and it I were still young and spry, it wouldn’t, but I have to face it, I’m old and grey now, and carrying all the gear that I have now wears me out. To the point where as I’m returning to my vehicle, I’m too tired to bother getting the correct lens out of the backpack, and I shoot what ever I see with the long lens set-up that I use for birding, or skip the shot completely unless it is a really chance for a really great photo.

As it is, I carry too much stuff with me that I seldom use on most days, but since I have limited time to be out shooting photos, I feel that I have to be ready for anything. But as I say, it wears me out to the point where it doesn’t matter if I am ready for anything, if I’m too tired to bother digging what I need out of the backpack.

That’s where having more time will be a good thing. I’ll be able to make trips to shoot specific types of images, say landscapes one day, macro photos on another day, and of course, days when I shoot mainly wildlife. That will be especially true when I’m traveling, then, I’ll be shooting mainly landscapes and wildlife. That means getting my gear better organized so that I only bring what I’ll really need on any particular day.

I plan to have a backpack set-up just for excursions when I plan on shooting mostly landscapes, and it will have the second camera body, a Canon 24-105 mm lens and a Sigma 12-24 mm lens in it. Along with the new 100-400 mm lens that I’ll have on my 7D, I’ll be able to shoot everything that I see, other than true macro photos. I’ll probably add the set of extension tubes and my tele-converters to that backpack, and it will still weigh less than half of what it does now. That will cover everything from 20 mm to 800 mm, and I’ll be able to take my good tripod, rather than the lightweight one that I carry now.

Since good macro photos are much easier on days when there’s little of no wind, when I have more time, I’ll be able to carry everything that I need for those images on days best suited for that type of photography, leaving the landscape gear in my vehicle or at home while I shoot the macro photos. I think that you get the idea.

Anyway, speaking of macro photography, I’m going to start the photos in this post with just such a photo, although it may not appeal to everyone.

Unidentified spider

Unidentified spider

The reason that I’m starting with that image is because it represents something else that I’m planning on for the future, getting better with the gear that I already have. That was shot with the 100 mm macro lens on the 7D, one of the few times that I’ve used that lens on that body. I typically use the 60D for macros, and it works well enough, or so I thought. What I’m impressed with in that image is that I shot it at ISO 12800, and the sharpness, detail, and clarity are much better than I had expected when I shot it.

Until a few weeks ago, I limited the 7D to ISO 6400 because I couldn’t get photos as good as the spider is at the higher ISO settings due to the noise that I’d get at those ISO settings. By learning a few more little tricks to help reduce the noise, better camera settings and learning to use Lightroom’s noise reduction better, I hate to say this, but I amazed myself with that image.

I also wonder how much of a role that the lens played in making that image as good as it was? I’ve never read or heard anything about the quality of a lens contributing to noise, but I’ve seen it in the lenses that I own. The better the lens, the less noise in an image produced by that lens at the same ISO setting as the other lens I’m comparing it to. The 100 mm macro lens is the best lens that I own, followed closely by the 70-200 mm and 100-400 mm lenses.

That plays into learning to get the best out of the 7D Mk II, rather than to purchase a much more expensive Canon 5DS R body to get better detail and resolution in my images. Here’s another example, also shot with the 100 mm macro lens on the 7D.

Spotted knapweed

Spotted knapweed

And, here’s the other end of the spectrum, a herring gull portrait, shot with the 100-400 mm lens.

Juvenile herring gull

Juvenile herring gull

It always helps to have a willing model that’s willing to pose, as was the hawk…

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

…from my last post. When you can see the texture of a bird’s feathers, then it doesn’t get much better than that.

Okay, so I’ve laid out some of my plans, one other thing that I’d like to have is a second excellent long lens for birding. I know that it sounds silly after the photos that I’ve just posted, but getting images like those often requires that I add or swap tele-converters to the 100-400 mm lens, just as I used to do with the 300 mm lens.

Once I’m retired, I’d like to spend some days in blinds or hides, which ever you prefer, and shoot both portraits like those above, along with action photos like these.

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

 

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

I have some ideas as to what I may purchase as a second long lens, but I’ve also got to do some more testing of what I already have, and learn just what it’s capable of before I make a decision on another long lens, or if I need one at all.

I was hoping to do some of that testing yesterday, which was Sunday, but those plans went out the window because of how long the thick fog lingered.

Monday dawned bright and clear…

Monday's sunrise

Monday’s sunrise

…although a little bit of fog tried to form just as the sun was rising…

Just the right amount of fog

Just the right amount of fog

…and there was some wonderful light as the sun began to climb above the horizon.

Canada geese at dawn

Canada geese at dawn

 

Mourning dove at dawn

Mourning dove at dawn

It’s too bad that I couldn’t catch this buck in that light…

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

…and since it is hunting season here, the buck was in no mood to pose for me.

8 point whitetail buck

8 point whitetail buck

With good light, I thought that it would be a good day to test out some of the things that I wanted to, so I put the 2 X tele-converter on the 300 mm lens and used that for longer shots all day, reserving the 100-400 mm lens for action photos. As it turned out, there were few chances for action photos, here’s the best of the lot.

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

Just as I was afraid of, the 2 X tele-converter on the 300 mm lens just doesn’t cut it as far as image quality now that I’ve seen what I can get from the 100-400 mm lens.

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

 

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

But, I kept trying to do better with the 300 mm lens all day.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

I tried a variety of camera and lens settings, but even my best attempts were not quite up to what I’ve been getting from the 100-400 mm lens.

Juvenile ruddy duck

Juvenile ruddy duck

However, I should have known that, it’s been the same story with that lens since I bought it, unless I’m close to a subject…

American pipit

American pipit

…the sharpness just isn’t there compared to the new lens.

I don’t have many regrets about “wasting” a day shooting with that set-up though, I learned what I needed to learn. The only time that I wished that I had done things differently was when I saw this eagle.

Bald eagle

Bald eagle

It hung around for a minute or two, giving me the look…

Bald eagle

Bald eagle

…then it was off to chase the gulls and ducks for a while.

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

That’s the only regret from the day, that photo would have been so much better if I had used the new lens with its better auto-focusing than the 300 mm lens and extender, which focus so slowly that the photo above is the sharpest of the series that I shot as the eagle flew away.

If I were to go through and list all the photo gear that I have, the only piece of it that I would say was a mistake was the 300 mm lens. I say that even though up to the point when I purchased the 100-400 mm lens, the 300 mm lens was the one that I used most of the time. On a sunny day like Monday, I probably would have been better off using the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) than the 300 mm lens.

The 300 mm lens does focus closer, and it’s much better in low light, but it is a soft lens at any distance over about twenty feet. It’s only because of its superior low light performance over the Beast that it was my go to lens for birding most of the time. Even then, when I had a trying day when using the 300 mm lens, I’d switch back to the Beast to use its superior auto-focusing to get images of small, fast birds that stay deep in the brush most of the time. Without a doubt, the 100-400 mm combines the best features of¬†both the Beast and the 300 mm lens, with none of the drawbacks of either of those two lenses.

Mallard pair

Mallard pair

I’ve written about the fog on Sunday, how foggy was it?

The cliched lone tree in the fog

The clichéd lone tree in the fog

When I got to the clay pits, I decided to shoot a less clichéd shot, but in the same vein.

Lone island in the fog

Lone island in the fog

On the other hand, you couldn’t have asked for clearer skies on Monday.

Making the yellow pop

Making the yellow pop

Yes, I used a polarizing filter for these, and I considered de-saturating the colors a bit because I was worried some one would think that the color came from software tricks.

More of the bright yellow color

More of the bright yellow color

Now then, for some fun photos. I’ll never figure great blue herons out, they choose some strange places to take a break sometimes. This one was perched on the railing around the top of one of the chemical storage tanks at the wastewater facility.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I did play some software tricks to these photos, I was shooting almost directly into the sun, and the sky came out with a weird greenish cast because of that. I used Lightroom to shift the color of ¬†the sky back towards blue where it belongs. Anyway, I zoomed out for that photo, to show what the heron was perched on. As I zoomed in, the heron began to walk the “tightrope”.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

The heron had to use its wings for balance, and it still nearly slipped off from the railing.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

Then, I got the look, as if to ask, “You didn’t film that did you?”

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I’m not sure if an eagle would try for a great blue heron, but if I were a heron, I wouldn’t want to learn the hard way that an eagle would, so I’d be a little more choosy about where to perch. On the other hand, if I were an eagle, I’d be looking at that long, skinny neck and thinking that heron may be on the menu today. Then again, on the other hand, (yes, I have three) maybe the heron thinks that having a clear field of view in all directions means that it could spot an eagle long before it came close.

Anyway, something else that I have to do is to find a number of places where I can go, set-up hides to watch and photograph wildlife from, and not have signs of man-made structures in the background of my photos.

Northern shovelers in flight

Northern shovelers in flight

It’s really cool to see several hundred of the same species of duck take flight at once, but I would rather it be in a more natural looking area than the storage lagoon at the wastewater facility. I know that I’ll never find another place as close to home with the same numbers of any one species, or the range of species that I see there though. That means locating a number of places where I can spend a day concentrating on better images of fewer subjects. I should say, spend part of a day, for I’d only want to sit around in a hide when the light is good.

Let’s say that I’m going to shoot wading birds, ducks, or shorebirds, the place that I find will have to be on the southern side of whatever body of water that attracts the birds so that I have the best light. To get even more specific, I want to be looking towards the west or northwest in the morning, and towards the northeast or east in the evening to take advantage of the best light during the time that I’m in the hide. I’ve been checking out places online, and finding great spots isn’t going to be that easy. For some reason, most of the places that I’ve heard of end up being on the north side of bodies of water, so I’d end up shooting into the sun, which isn’t good. I can cross those places off from my list when I check them out on a map without wasting time traveling there in person.

In the meantime, here’s a few more photos from this weekend.

Unidentified fungi

Unidentified fungi

 

Savannah Sparrow in the fog

Savannah Sparrow in the fog

 

Horned lark

Horned lark

Even though I was shooting in high-speed for these next two…

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

…I missed the exact moment when the gull made the snatch of a tidbit of food.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

The American tree sparrows have returned from their summer home range to spend the winter here.

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

Starling

Starling

I wish that these two eagles would choose better places to perch than this.

Bald eagles

Bald eagles

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

My plan is to begin exploring places this winter, as long as there isn’t too much snow to get around in. Winter may not be the best time of the year for exploring, but there are still a few species of birds migrating through the area that I need photos of to add to my list of birds that I’ve seen. Recently, short-eared owls have been seen in the Muskegon area, along with a female harlequin duck. I need to get photos of both species, although I would prefer a male harlequin duck in breeding plumage. But, as has happened so many times in the past, once I get photos of a female or juvenile of a species, it isn’t long before I catch a male of the same species.

Well, it’s about time for me to go to work, so I’m going to end this post here, check to see who our next president may be, then put in another long boring night driving back and forth across the state.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

Neither enough time or money

I have a wish list of camera gear that I’d like to have someday, I doubt if I’ll ever be able to afford it all though.

I also dream of the time when I’m free to go where I want when I want, and not be tied to a work schedule that interferes with my chances to get outside and shoot photographs of the things that I see. Of course if I had more time to devote to photography, I wouldn’t necessarily need all the things that I have on my wish list.

I’m also pondering the question of just how good is good enough for me as far as the quality of the images that I get.

As it is, I have neither the time or the money to get the photos that I would love to shoot.

I have four years to go before I can retire, and I’m so looking forward to that day when the only schedule that I’ll have to conform to is the one that I set for myself. Or, I should say, the schedule that nature sets for me.

That means that you’ll probably be seeing more photos like these when I retire.ūüėČ

Dawn on the ducks

Dawn on the ducks

I said in my last post that my goal is to get at least one memorable image every time that I’m out, I think that I met that quota on Monday.

WOW!

WOW!

If you can believe it, a guy that I see regularly at the wastewater facility stopped to chat while I was shooting the sunrise, and asked me what birds I had seen so far. ¬†My reply was that I hadn’t even looked for birds, I was too busy shooting the sunrise, and the only birds that I had seen were the ruddy ducks that were helping me create a foreground for my landscape photos. He drove off to look for birds, paying slight attention to the gorgeous view to his right, which I found hard to believe. By the way, that’s the same guy that I’ve seen shooting the eagle in the eagle tree for an hour or more at a time. I guess he loves birds more than one of the most awesome displays of color that I have ever seen.

In this instance, the magic light lasted long enough for me to shoot a series of images with both the 60D on the tripod with the 15-85 mm lens on it, and another series with the 7D, using both the 70-200 mm and 100-400 mm lenses on it.

Last week, I had only a few seconds of magic light in which to come up with this image.

Fall coming to an end

Fall coming to an end

I did have enough time to remember to add the polarizing filter to the 15-85 mm lens before I shot that one. I shot three different compositions of that scene before the hole in the clouds that created the spotlight effect on the trees closed for good. I’m not sure where the lens flare came from, I was shooting at 90 degrees from the sun as you can tell by the shadows.

So, with these images in this post so far, the images of the Mandarin duck from my previous posts, and seeing the images that other members of the North American Nature Photographers Association, I have to say with all modesty possible, I’m turning into a good photographer, not great, but good. I’m beginning to understand light.

Diffuse light is usually good light for photography, but not always, sometimes it’s just dead and lifeless.

The clay pit 1

The clay pit 1

Morning light is almost always good, even in full sun, the warmth of the light adds a little more punch to the colors.

The clay pit 2

The clay pit 2

It’s the same scene, shot a few days apart, in different lighting conditions.

I’m having a hard time prioritizing what I want to upgrade next. I’d like the high-resolution Canon 5DS R both for image quality, and because it will auto-focus to f/8. I’d use the 60D body for bird portraits, but that camera won’t auto-focus with a long lens and tele-converter on it. So I’m stuck using the 7D and swapping out tele-converters all the time, and missing some shots because of that. If I went the other way, using the 7D for portraits, then I’d miss action shots if I used the 60D for those, because it doesn’t auto-focus as fast or as accurately as the 7D does.

I’d like to upgrade my wide-angle lenses, after I’ve seen how well the Canon L series lenses do on the 7D, the mid-priced lens that I have are okay, but I can also image how much better my images would be if I shot them with better glass. The wide-angle lenses I have are over achievers, that is, they produce better images than their reasonable price would suggest, but they are not the same as the better lenses on the market.

Recently, I saw a photo of the aspens in full color out west, I won’t say where I saw it to prevent embarrassing the photographer. It would have been a great photo, but there was so much barrel distortion in it that even some one who had no idea what barrel distortion is would have been prompted to ask why the trees on both sides of the image look so weird.

Barrel distortion is called what it is based on the shape of wooden barrels, which are wider in the middle than they are on the ends. You could also say that barrel distortion looks like both parenthesis signs together with what’s in the center of the frame being straight, sort of like this (|). ¬†In the photo that I saw, the trunks of the trees in the middle of the frame were straight, but the trunks of the trees on the left edge of the frame were curved like this ( and the trees on the right side of the frame were curved like this ). I didn’t know that any manufacturer still made a lens with that much distortion in it. I should say that some people like distortion in their wide-angle photos, not me, at least not so much as to make trees look like they’re about to fall over.

I went through that explanation because distortion in extremely wide-angle lenses is one reason that I didn’t want to stick with a crop sensor camera body for landscapes. You may remember that a while back I said that my choices for a second camera body were either the reasonably priced 7D Mk II and a very expensive lens, or the very expensive 5DS R and a reasonably priced lens, and that the total cost worked out to be about the same. That may not be true any longer. Sigma has come out with their third version of a 12-24 mm lens which they claim has no distortion, and is reasonably priced, as in half the cost of the comparable Canon lens.

Sigma may be stretching the truth when they say no distortion, but I’ve seen photos shot with that lens, and there’s very little distortion in them, at least very little that I can see. Those images are about the same as those taken with a slightly longer lens on a full frame camera body, which I could easily live with.

The new Sigma lens has just been released, it will be interesting to see more photos taken with that lens, and to read more reviews of it. The reviews so far have been very good.

The reason that it’s important to me is because I may not need the 5DS R body after all, a second 7D Mk II may be more than enough for me.

The 5DS R is the only camera that Canon currently produces that has higher resolution than the 7D which I have, and that’s only because the low-pass filter is turned off to create sharper images. Since Canon has just finished upgrading their entire line of high-end cameras, it’s doubtful that they’ll introduce something that I’d be interested in purchasing for the next four to five years.When they do begin the upgrade cycle again, the 7D will likely be the first one upgraded, as it was during this last cycle. So, as far as a second body, I may be better to hold off at this time, and wait to see what the future holds in store.

As it is, I think that the new Sigma 12-24 mm lens should be on my wish list as my extreme wide-angle lens of the future.

Also on my wish list is a gimbal head for my tripod.

The three-way head that I have on my tripod is almost perfect for landscapes and the occasional macro photos, but it doesn’t work for action photos or videos when I have to move the camera.

Okay, I made a decision about the second camera body. If the 7D Mk II can shoot photos like this…

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

…and it obviously can, then there’s no reason to plunk down an extra $2,000 for a 5DS R body for a slight increase in resolution. That $2,000 will cover almost all the cost of upgrading my wide-angle lenses.

That photo was shot with the new 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter and cropped slightly. I shot it during a walk around home, after working this morning. Here’s a couple that I shot at 400 mm and didn’t crop.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

 

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

I knew it was going to be a good day when this was one of the first photos that I shot today.

Blue jay in flight

Blue jay in flight

This one isn’t quite as sharp, but the blue jay was scolding me as it flew.

Blue jay in flight

Blue jay in flight

I’ve only had the 100-400 mm lens for just over a month, and the 7D for a year and a half. If I continue to improve the quality of my images ¬†as I have been, it won’t be long and I’ll be very close to what the 5DS R and produce anyway, so there’s no point in spending the money on one.

But, I’ve been babbling long enough, here are the rest of the photos from today.

Fall colors

Fall colors

 

More fall colors

More fall colors

 

A vividly red maple

A vividly red maple

 

Same tree shot from the opposite side

Same tree shot from the opposite side

 

Even more fall color

Even more fall color

 

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

 

Chained

Chained

Last weekend around home, I didn’t have as good of light as today, but I saw a lot more birds.

Blue jay

Blue jay

 

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

 

Male Hairy woodpecker

Male Hairy woodpecker

 

Male Hairy woodpecker

Male Hairy woodpecker

 

Brown creeper

Brown creeper

 

American robin

American robin

 

American robin Stretching

American robin stretching

 

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

 

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

Black-capped chickadee eating a snack

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Blue-headed vireo

Blue-headed vireo

I also spotted a couple of red-squirrels taking it easy.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

 

Red squirrel chilling

Red squirrel chilling

I’ve got room for two more, so one will be this praying mantis that would not pose for me.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

And, the other will be this flower. I’m terrible at identifying flowers, I don’t know if this is an aster, or a daisy that decided to bloom again since the weather has been so warm this fall.

Daisy or aster?

Daisy or aster?

To me, while I would like to be able to ID flowers, seeing them, especially this time of the year as winter approaches, is absolutely delightful!

While it has been warm enough for so plants to form buds, about the time that the buds are about to open we get a frost that kills the flowers, or results in stunted, partially open flowers. But, I’m not complaining, we haven’t seen any snow here yet, and it’s getting close to the middle of November. This weekend is forecast to be bright and sunny, with temperatures much closer to what I’d expect in the middle of October, so I’m hoping to spend as much time outside as I can, enjoying it while it lasts!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

I ‘ve got it out of my system now

My final thoughts about the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary as I left were “Okay, I’ve been there, I shot some exotic birds, I’ve gotten my close-ups, I’ll probably never return. Cheating was fun for a day, but now it’s back to shooting wild birds again.”.

However, after giving it a little more thought since then, I may return once a year or so, just so that I can continue to track the improvement to my photos. It was good for a change not to have to attempt to eek out every bit of low-light performance of my camera gear, or to try to stretch the focal length of my lenses in order to get closer to the subjects of my photos. It was also nice that I could pick and choose which flying birds to try to photograph, and not have to try to keep up with two extremely fast flying birds like the falcon being chased by the gull.ūüėČ

The happy truth is that I can go to any number of places in southwest Michigan and see everything that I saw at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, other than the Mandarin duck…

Mandarin duck from Asia

Mandarin duck from Asia

…and the black swan…

Black swan from Australia

Black swan from Australia

…which aren’t natives here. I’ve gotten good photos of the trumpeter swans before…

Trumpeter swans

Trumpeter swans

…maybe not quite this close though.

Trumpeter swan portrait 1

Trumpeter swan portrait 1

 

Trumpeter swan portrait 2

Trumpeter swan portrait 2

And, the reason that I was able to get so many good shots of the mallards in flight…

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

…along with the fact that I ended up having great light the day that I visited…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

…is because there weren’t any other subjects around at the time to distract me from the mallards. I was just standing there watching mallards, geese, and the swans. I didn’t have to worry about peregrine falcons…

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

…bald eagles harassing gulls…

Bald eagle harassing a flock of gulls

Bald eagle harassing a flock of gulls

..or looking for a duck that wasn’t paying attention to the eagle’s presence.

Juvenile bald eagle duck hunting

Juvenile bald eagle duck hunting

As it was, the ducks were well aware of the eagle, and every time the eagle started into a dive, all the ducks near it would all dive out of sight. However, I was not able to track the eagle when it made a dive towards the ducks, the auto-focus would focus on the water, rather than the eagle when it got lower. So, I had to settle for that photo.

Before I forget, one sharp-eyed reader asked what the swans with the yellow on their bill were.

Whooper X Trumpeter swan hybrid

Whooper X Trumpeter swan hybrid

They are the result of cross breeding Whooper swans (pronounced “Hooper”) from Eurasia with the native trumpeter swans from North America. No one at the sanctuary could explain why they brought in a non-native species to breed with some of the few remaining native swans, but they did, and there’s still a few of the offspring from those breeding attempts left there at the sanctuary.

Whooper X Trumpeter swan hybrid

Whooper X Trumpeter swan hybrid

As you can see, I was shooting at a slight angle downward when I shot those, that was one of the disappointing things about the sanctuary. Because they have built a seawall topped with a chain link fence, as this photo from my last post shows…

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

…I could get to within a few feet¬†of my intended subjects, but then I’d be shooting almost straight down at them. That isn’t the best angle for really good photos. It makes for much better images if you can get down to the same level as your subject. Of course, I had the opposite problem with the peregrine falcon earlier in this post, it was perched on top of a utility pole, too high to get a great image, even though I didn’t have to crop the one in this post at all.

Also, just like any place else that I go, I couldn’t make the birds pose where I had great light on the water to make a good image…

American black duck in harsh sunlight

American black duck in harsh sunlight

…but, once in a while, I would get good light for a shot.

Female greater scaup

Female greater scaup

 

Male mallard

Male mallard

So, getting close doesn’t always lead to the best images, it’s a combination of things. These two images of a male scaup would have been much better if it had posed a few feet farther to the left where I wouldn’t have gotten the harsh reflections off from the water.

Male greater scaup preening

Male greater scaup preening

 

Male greater scaup drying its wings

Male greater scaup drying its wings

There was one other thing that interfered with my attempts to get better images as well. Whenever visitors came along and threw corn to the waterfowl, the swans and geese jostling for position…

Trumpeter swans warning off a Canada goose

Trumpeter swans warning off a Canada goose

…with those big feet of theirs…

The foot of a Canada goose

The foot of a Canada goose

…would get the water roiled up and muddy, so it wasn’t as appealing as a background as what I had hoped it would be.

American black duck

American black duck

It’s also hard to shoot portrait shots when all the waterfowl were chasing the kernels of corn being thrown in their direction.

So, I really see no reason to return to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, it was fun for the day, but I can do just as well in many of the other places that I go. I’d be much better off focusing my attention on improving all my skills, including those needed for shooting video. I shot a video of the peregrine falcon eating last week, but it’s quite shaky since I shot it at 800 mm.

This week, I shot a video to show the number of Canada geese in just one of the grassy cells, it’s not too bad, but I should have done better.¬†By the way, see if you can spot the four snow geese in this video. For a hint, I’ll tell you that there are two white morphs…

Snow geese, white morph

Snow geese, white morph

…and two of the snow goose blue goose morphs in this video.

Snow geese, blue morph

Snow geese, blue morph

This video is a perfect example of what I have to deal with when I’m looking for some of the less common species of waterfowl, they hide out among the much more common species. Now then, on to the video.

I shot the video at 100 mm, I had added the 2 X tele-converter behind the lens when zoomed to 400 mm to get to 800 mm for the photos of the snow geese somewhat isolated from the flock of Canada geese. I’ll get back to boring talk of photo gear in a minute, but first, a few observations about what photography is teaching me about bird behavior.

One of those things is how some species of waterfowl hide out among the larger species, and no species does that more often than the mallards. I’m almost certain that the mallards do that to stay safer from predators, as very few predators will take on a full-grown Canada goose unless the predator is extremely hungry. The mallards will put up with the belligerent geese occasionally chasing them around while other small duck species tend to shy away from being in with the geese, they prefer to keep a little distance between themselves and the geese. I’m not sure if that’s a conscious decision by the mallards, or just something that they do because it works well for them.

Another thing that I’m learning while I’m observing birds through my camera lens is the way that individuals in a flock interact with others of the same species within the flock. With most species of birds, when there’s food available, the entire flock will go after the food all at once, with individuals within the flock fighting over the food. Not with crows.

American crows finding a bonanza

American crows finding a bonanza

They’ve been harvesting the corn crop grown in the farm fields around the wastewater facility, and as you may be able to see, some of the harvested corn spilled out onto the road as it was being transported. The crows found this, and there were hundreds of crows in the trees nearby. However, the entire flock didn’t go after the corn all at once, smaller groups would land…

American crows finding a bonanza

American crows finding a bonanza

…eat their fill, then leave. Then, another small group would land to take the departing group’s place. There was very little fighting between the individuals on the ground eating the corn, they seemed to know that there was enough to go around, and that cooperation was the best way for each of them to get their share. You can see plenty of corn spilled out on the road, yet the flock feeding on the corn stayed about the same size, with the rest of the crows patiently waiting their turn to get the corn. Is that another sign of the intelligence of crows?

That’s another time when I should have shot a video, but I was so busy observing the behavior of the crows that I forgot that I could have shot a video of them. I kept the camera pointed at the flock on the ground because I expected to see a feeding frenzy of the type that I’ve seen other species of birds engage in, with a lot of bickering as the birds fought over the food. Quite frankly, I was amazed that the entire flock of crows didn’t fall on the corn and dispose of it as quickly as they could have if all of them present had decided to go after the corn all at once. Instead, it was a very orderly succession as the crows went after the corn.

Another thing that I may never understand about bird behavior is why one day, a specific individual will allow me to approach it quite close, and then the next day, fly off as soon as I start shooting photos.

Bald eagle taking flight

Bald eagle taking flight

I’m sure that this is one of the same individuals that I’ve shot hundreds of photos of in the past, perched in its favorite look-out tree near one of the lagoons at the wastewater facility.

Bald eagle taking flight

Bald eagle taking flight

I know that I’ve sat there the same distance from it for over a half an hour at a time in the past, and I’ve seen another photographer sit there even longer shooting photos of that eagle. But yesterday for some reason, as soon as I stopped, it was off.

Bald eagle taking flight

Bald eagle taking flight

I wasn’t expecting the eagle to take flight so quickly, so I had the camera set to shoot portraits of it first, and the eagle didn’t give me the time to switch the camera settings to those better suited to catch it in flight, darn.

That was the story of the day yesterday, I couldn’t get close to any of the raptors other than this male kestrel…

Male American kestrel

Male American kestrel

…and these were shot at 800 mm with me focusing manually because that’s all the closer that I could get to the kestrel.

Male American kestrel

Male American kestrel

My new buddy, one of the juvenile great blue herons, also let me get close to it, this was shot at 400 mm and not cropped at all.

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

I added the 2 X extender for this shot.

Juvenile great blue heron, 800 mm and not cropped

Juvenile great blue heron, 800 mm and not cropped

I guess that I can get head shots of wild birds.

Juvenile great blue heron, 800 mm and cropped slightly

Juvenile great blue heron, 800 mm and cropped slightly

That is, as long as they hold still long enough for me to fool around adding an extender to the 100-400 mm lens. That, and for me to focus manually because not even the 7D Mk II will auto-focus with the 100-400 mm lens and 2 X extender due to the loss of light because of the extender.

I was hoping that I’d be able to use the 300 mm lens with the 2 X extender for portrait photos of birds, then switch to the 100-400 mm lens for action shots. However, the new 100-400 mm lens is so much better than what the 300 mm lens is that I end up swapping tele-converters on the zoom lens all the time. As a result, I find myself missing shots that I may¬†have otherwise gotten.

I’m glad that I didn’t miss these!

Monday's sunrise 1

Monday’s sunrise 1

 

Monday's sunrise 2

Monday’s sunrise 2

Those were shot with the 60D and 15-85 mm lens mounted on my tripod of course. I also dug out the 70-200 mm lens and with it on the 7D, I shot these handheld.

Ducks at dawn 1

Ducks at dawn 1

 

Ducks at dawn 2

Ducks at dawn 2

Seeing the ripples in the water when the ducks would dive, I shot this sequence.

Ruddy duck at dawn

Ruddy duck at dawn

 

Ripples of color 1

Ripples of color 1

 

Ripples of color 2

Ripples of color 2

 

Ripples of color 3

Ripples of color 3

 

Ripples of color 4

Ripples of color 4

One of the goals that I have set for myself is to return from every outing with at least one memorable image from the day, no matter what the weather is, or where I go. I think that I succeed most of the time, I certainly have the past few outings.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

I cheated, and it was fun for a day

The bird sanctuary that I wrote about in my last post is the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, located near Augusta, Michigan, about an hour southeast from where I live. W. K. Kellogg founded the sanctuary when he heard of the drastic decline of Canada geese that was occurring because of the loss of habitat and over hunting. Later, it became the home of a breeding program for trumpeter swans, also due to the drastic declines in the number of birds of that species also. Here’s the short version of the history of the sanctuary from their website.

In June 1927, cereal maker W. K. Kellogg purchased the land surrounding Wintergreen Lake, fencing off 180 acres to create the W. K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The goal was to teach an appreciation of the natural beauty of native wildlife, while providing a place to breed game birds.

In 1928, Kellogg deeded this land over to the Michigan State College of Agriculture (now Michigan State University) to ensure that the Sanctuary would serve as a practical training school for animal care and land management. This move opened the doors to further field research work for college students, which enhanced the programs that were put on for the general public.

The W. K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary was created with waterfowl as a high priority. Breeding of waterfowl was crucial to re-establishing populations of game birds. In particular, the Sanctuary was instrumental with assisting in the repopulation of Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans, though other waterfowl played, and still play, an important role in the ecosystem.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I take a great deal of pride in the fact that all of the birds and wildlife that you’ve seen photos of here are totally wild critters. Some of the places where I’ve photographed them aren’t wild, the wastewater facility near Muskegon for example, but all of the critters are wild, and I haven’t used bait to get them to come close to me.

Now then, with that said, I had some misgivings about going to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, because from the website, parts of it sounded like it was a zoo of sorts. On the other hand, parts of the website was about all the wild waterfowl that spend time there during migration. Which part is true? They both are, but I had to see for myself.

And, while I think that I’m doing very well with the wild birds that I find in Michigan, once, just once, I’d like to shoot a few images of some of the more exotic birds that are colorful enough to make the average person say “Wow!” and that I see in so many of other people’s photos. So, I gave in to temptation, and gave it a shot or two.

Black swan from Australia

Black swan from Australia

 

Mandarin duck from Asia

Mandarin duck from Asia

 

Mandarin duck from Asia

Mandarin duck from Asia

Our native wood ducks may be just as colorful…

Wood ducks

Wood ducks

…but they don’t have¬†the fancy feathers of the Mandarin duck. By the way, those are wild ducks, as you can tell by the fact that they are moving away from me and about to disappear from my sight behind the lily pad leaves.

The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary also has a raptor rehabilitation operation, and once, just once, I wanted to get close-ups of the raptors that they have there, but the strange thing is that other than this great horned owl…

Great horned owl

Great horned owl

…and this sleeping eastern screech-owl…

Eastern screech owl

Eastern screech-owl

…I couldn’t make myself shoot photos of the birds in the rehab center. They were the most despondent and dejected looking birds that I have ever seen in my life. They looked absolutely miserable, not able to fly, not able to really live, just existing and waiting for their next feeding. I know that none of these birds would be able to survive in the wild due to their injuries, yet seeing them made me very sad, and not because they had been injured, but because of the way that they had to live in small cages with nothing to do but be there for the people walking past their cages¬†to look at.¬†It was worse than any zoo that I’ve ever seen.

I suppose that it doesn’t bother most people who have never seen these birds in the wild, but it put a damper on my entire day there at the sanctuary.

Let me go back to the beginning of the day. I was the first visitor there, arriving just after they had opened the gates at 9 AM. I stopped at the visitor center to pay the entrance fee, and I also chatted with the woman who explained a bit about the sanctuary, and where the best places to take photos may be. I walked down by the lake, and there were trumpeter swans, mallards, and Canada geese all around me. Pretty cool I thought. But then, I heard a strange sound, and I saw that it was one of the trumpeter swans playing with a five gallon bucket that is used as a feeding station for the swans.

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

 

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

Trumpeter swan waiting for breakfast

It wasn’t long before a worker came along and filled all the feeding bins that have been placed all around the one end of the lake, which made all the swans very happy.

Most of the swans are wild, but they hang around there at the sanctuary because of the easy access to food which is provided for them.

By the way, I wouldn’t be posting these photos if I hadn’t already gotten photos of truly wild trumpeter swans in the past. I’ve seen them many times in the Pigeon River Country, around the Muskegon area, and even in a few un-named wetlands during my travels around Michigan. They are huge birds, but I never realized how big they were until I saw one standing next to me, and it was almost as tall as I am.

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan

Seeing a bird that stands nearly 6 feet tall is an imposing sight! Their wingspan is pretty impressive also.

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan

I honestly didn’t know how tame the swans had become, or that they were fed regularly by the staff at the sanctuary. I did know that they allowed the public to feed corn purchased there to the waterfowl though, so I should have guessed that the swans geese, and mallards had become very tame. Every time a visitor came along with a bucket of corn, there was a feeding frenzy.

Waterfowl feeding frenzy

Waterfowl feeding frenzy

So, why did I go if I suspected that there would be exotic birds along with native birds that were very tame? I want to be able to judge just how good my images are compared to those shot by other people, and it helps to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.

I can go to the places that I normally do, and get what I think are some very good images…

Lesser yellowlegs flight ballet

Lesser yellowlegs flight ballet

…but those can’t compete with a mandarin duck…

Mandarin duck

Mandarin duck

…an un-cropped head shot of a trumpeter swan without resorting to using tele-converters to get closer to them…

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter swan

…or even a close-up of a greater scaup.

Male greater scaup

Male greater scaup

On a somewhat humorous side note, the male scaup, there were two pair there, were extremely nervous about being so close to humans, and I think, being so close to the huge swans. However, the females…

Female greater scaup

Female greater scaup

…were all for easy food in the form of the corn that people threw to them to eat, so the males hung around their mates, even though they would have preferred to have been elsewhere from the way that they acted. Also, the four scaup were the only wild birds that would come close for the easy food, all the other wild birds stayed out in the middle of the lake, well away from people, who had to use spotting scopes to identify the ducks that were there, just like at the other places that I go.

Wait, I almost forgot, during times when there were no people there other than me, blue jays would come out of the woods to look for any kernels of corn that the ducks had missed, and there weren’t many kernels of corn missed by the ducks.

Blue jay

Blue jay

And, I shot one other wild bird that day, an osprey on the far side of the lake when I took the trail that runs around the lake.

Osprey

Osprey

But, back to why I was willing to sacrifice my principles for one day, to compare my photos to those shot by other people who may not have the same principles that I do. I hate to brag, but my images are getting very close to matching the best that I’ve seen, other than the images shot with the very high-resolution sensor cameras, such as the Nikon D810, the Canon 5DS R, or the top of the line Sony camera. My Canon 7D Mk II is absolutely deadly on flying birds when conditions are right!

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

 

Male mallard in flight

Male mallard in flight

I could have filled a memory card with good to excellent images of the mallards in flight if I had chosen to. As it was, it was difficult to sort through the ones that I did shoot to pick out the best of them based on wing position, the expression on the duck’s face, and the background behind the mallard.

I did make one mistake though, I mentioned that I walked the trail around the lake, so I brought one of the 60D bodies with the 15-85 mm lens on it, hoping to shoot a few landscape photos of the autumn leaves. I didn’t see many scenes worth shooting, and the two or three that I did shoot are rather boring, so I’m not going to post them. What I should have done instead was to bring the 70-200 mm lens for the times when the action was taking place so close to me that 100 mm of the 100-400 mm lens was still too long.

Trumpeter swans fighting

Trumpeter swans fighting

The waterfowl butt bite!

Trumpeter swans fighting

Trumpeter swans fighting

It seems to be the universal mark of victory over your opponent, especially when you have several of your opponent’s feathers to prove that you won.

The victor!

The victor!

 

The victor!

The victor!

 

The victor!

The victor!

 

The victor!

The victor!

I could have used the shorter lens to get both of the combatants in the frame at the same time, then zoomed in on the victor.

This seems to be a game that the swans played. There were several times when I watched one swan sneak up on another, give it a playful nip, which would result in a chase like the one above.

That’s not the only time that I could have used a shorter lens, a flock of geese took off heading straight towards me, from behind me. I turned, got zoomed in to around 200 mm, and began shooting, tracking one goose as it came towards me. I zoomed out as it approached, this one was shot at 114 mm, just before the viewfinder was filled with nothing but the brown of the goose.

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

I turned as the goose passed me, then got it centered in the viewfinder again.

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Who would have thought that I could have used a wide-angle lens for birds in flight?

Normally, I’m trying to stretch the focal length of the lens that I’m using by adding a tele-converter to get closer to the subject.

Speaking of subject, I’m going to change it completely, and switch over to some photos that I shot on Sunday, the day before I went to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.

Okay, you may remember that I said that I had some photos of a peregrine falcon interacting with gulls that I wanted to post, and here’s the first. The gull on the left isn’t screaming at the falcon as they often do, the gull was yawning, as if to tell the falcon that it wasn’t scared at all by having the falcon so close.

Herring gull yawning

Herring gull yawning

The gull moved even closer to the falcon.

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

Then, another gull flew past, and from the way the falcon is looking at the gull, I can’t help but think that the falcon was sizing up the drumsticks of the gull, and thinking that maybe it was time for a snack.

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

The gull perched next to the falcon must have thought the same thing, for it left soon after.

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

Herring gull and peregrine falcon

Those were shot at 800 mm, the 100-400 mm lens and 2 X tele-converter.

I left to chase an eagle, but it took off long before I got close to it. At the same time, all the gulls began to go crazy, I thought that the eagle flying over them set them off, but it may have been the falcon. I say that because when I got to the other side of the same cell that the falcon and gulls had been in, the falcon was eating something that it had stolen from one of the gulls.

Peregrine falcon enjoying leftovers

Peregrine falcon enjoying leftovers

Most people think of gulls as scavengers, and they are, but they are also very good hunters, and they kill many small birds, especially during migration. So, I don’t know which bird made the kill in the first place, it could have been the eagle, one of the gulls, or the falcon. All I know is what I saw, and that was the falcon picking the scraps of meat left on the carcass of what looked to have been a pigeon.

That photo was also shot at 800 mm, and it was only cropped a little, if at all. I shot quite a few photos of the falcon eating, then I removed the tele-converter, and it was a good thing that I did. I hadn’t completely finished getting the camera ready to go again when a gull began to attack the falcon. They were out of camera range by the time I was ready to go. However, the falcon turned around and came towards the rear of my car with the gull right on its tail. I couldn’t get myself turned around in the seat fast enough to catch them coming at me, and I had a devil of a time getting them in the viewfinder as they passed me heading away from me.

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcons may be the fastest creature on Earth in a dive, but in level flight, the gull was staying right on the falcon’s tail.

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

The falcon was juking and jiving…

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

…trying to lose the gull.

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

Herring gull attacking a peregrine falcon

It was at this point that I could no longer keep them in the frame together, the gull pulled up, and where the falcon went, I couldn’t see. All I know is that I saw it land a short time later, without the carcass of whatever it had been eating.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

So, what does that final series have to do with my day at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary? I’ll get to that, and more, in my next post.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!