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

Good hikes gone bad

I’d like to share the little story of one of my daily hikes that didn’t turn out as well as it should have. The title of this post is a bit deceiving, it was an excellent day, but I have a tendency to focus on my mistakes, hoping to never make the same one twice. Of course I do, or at least some variation of the same mistakes over and over.

It was about as nice of weather as we could ever hope for in Michigan in November, sunny and warm. Early on, I stopped to shoot this throw away photo of a few leaves remaining on a tree, and the goldenrod gone to seed in the background. I set my camera to aperture priority, since I had all the time in the world to get this shot.

Just a nothing shot of the area I live in

It’s an OK photo, nothing special, I wasn’t even sure I would save it, but I have because it became part of this story. After I took this shot, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to what I was doing as I turned the dial of my camera two clicks from the aperture mode.

(Pay attention to what you’re doing you big dummy, you’ll be sorry!)

I continued my hike, across one of the creeks here, past the first of several ponds, all the way to the back-end of the apartment complex. There wasn’t anything to photograph, but as I said, it was a gorgeous day! As I got to the back corner, two of the young groundskeepers pulled up in a pick up truck to drop off a load of leaves at the compost pile they have here. We chatted for a few, then I stood in place while they backed down to the compost pile. I looked up, and saw a great blue heron flying up the creek on the edge of the property, headed straight for me! I can’t miss this time I thought to myself.

(Wanna bet?)

I switched my camera on as I raised it to my eye, pressed the shutter release halfway down to get the auto focus activated.

(look at the exposure settings you idiot)

Waited until the heron cleared the brush along the creek, and when it looked great in the viewfinder, I shot.

Bad photo of a great blue heron

That had to be a great one, it looked so good when the mirror locked up.

(Yeah, but you should have checked the exposure settings)

I’ll keep tracking it and get some more! It’s flying past the pick up truck now, don’t want that in the picture, wait until it clears the truck….shoot!

Heron behind the ghost trees

Did I see trees in the viewfinder when the mirror locked up?

(Yes you did)

Where did they come from?

(You know, that’s a good question, I don’t remember them being there either.)

{I have walked past that spot hundreds of times, those trees do not exist, which I have confirmed the last two days. The only time in history that those trees have existed was for the split second the shutter of my camera was open.}

Keep shooting! Great, the auto focus has gotten confused by the non-existing trees, and now it has to cycle through its range to lock on to the heron again.

Great blue heron in flight

Not bad, but the typical heron flying away photo, I can’t wait to get home and see how good the first one of the heron came out!

(Are you ever going to be surprised)

Where did the heron go, anyway? There it is, on the other side of the pond. I’ll get a photo or two of it from here before I try to get closer to it. Hey, why are the exposure settings I see in the viewfinder so odd?

(I told you to pay attention to what you were doing way back in the beginning of this story)

How did the camera get set to the night mode?

(You turned the dial two clicks the wrong way back when you took the foliage shot)

What the heck is the night mode? That’s right, it slows the  shutter synch with the flash down to let the background “burn in”.

Oh, no, will that first shot of the heron come out as well as it should have if I had the camera set correctly?

(Of course not!)

Great blue heron

(nice shot of the power outlet, jerk)

I’ll walk around the first building here, and see if I can get more shots of the heron. There it is, but now it’s in the shade.

Great blue heron

That’s OK, I’ll shoot a few pictures of the ducks playing, and maybe some one will come out of their apartment and spook the heron into taking flight again.

Mallards at play

Now you see him…

Mallards at play

now you don’t..

Mallards at play

Maybe I can catch him part way into a dive..

Mallard at play

What’s the heron up to?

Great blue heron surrounded by mallards

It’s still sitting there, but it is acting as a duck magnet. That can’t be good for the heron, the ducks are going to scare away any prey the heron could hope to catch. Maybe it will take off for a better hunting spot away from the ducks.

(Not with your luck)

Great blue heron walking away from the mallards

That may not be all bad, the heron is walking into the sunshine again.

Great blue heron

I’ll circle around again, and come out where the heron is now, hopefully for some good shots of it.

(don’t count on it)

Of course when I got over to the pond again, the heron was gone, some one had stepped out of their apartment and spooked it off while it was out of my sight. At least I could get a few more photos of the ducks.

Male mallard flapping

One of them even let me know what it thought of me.

Male mallard mooning me

Mooned by a mallard, how fitting. At least none of them gave me the duck “laugh”, that would have added injury to the insult.

I did manage to get a few good shots of geese in flight.

Canadian geese in flight

And this one.

Canadian geese in flight

(You should have cropped that one, since you messed up when you took it)

Canadian geese in flight

What the heck, one more.

Canadian geese in flight

On the back-end of my hike, which is actually the front of the apartment complex, I came to one of the other creeks here, and it looked so pretty that I had to take a shot.

Along the creek

Feeding in the creek was a muskrat.


Every time it stuck its head underwater for more food, I moved in a little closer.


And closer


It was pushing its way under the ground you can see next to it.


grabbing more roots to eat.


Then I took one step too many, and it was off like a flash.

I stopped by the drunken raccoon’s hollow tree, but it was there on this day, so I’ll throw in a couple of shots of it from a few days before.

Drunken raccoon sleeping it off

I woke the poor thing up.

Drunken raccoon awoken by a nasty photographer

The raccoon hasn’t learned its lesson, and I probably haven’t either. Since the heron incident I have been looking at my camera when I change setting, rather than just counting clicks, but I am sure that one of these days, I’ll be distracted by squirrels playing in the trees, or geese honking as they approach, and I’ll mess up again. Or I’ll find a way to accidentally bump one of the switches on the back of the camera at the wrong time as I had in the last great Great Blue Heron fiasco.

That’s it for this one, the drunken raccoon and I would like to thank every one who stops by.


6 responses

  1. A very entertaining post! I am glad that I am not the only person that screws up. Been there, done that. 🙂

    November 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

  2. Haha! Good post title! Very original and the pictures tell quite a story too. Thx for sharing.

    November 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  3. A very funny post and some very nice photos! Love the grasses & creek and raccoon and muskrats especially.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm

  4. Great shots of the muskrat! 🙂

    And if I had a dime for each time autofocus screwed up…

    November 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

  5. Northern Narratives

    This is so funny and so true 🙂

    November 17, 2011 at 9:37 pm

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