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

Some odds and ends, another photo dump

Before I get to the pictures, a little environmental news. I read that the EPAis nearly finished with a clean up project in Muskegon Lake, always good news when old pollution finally gets cleaned up. The 12 million dollar project includes dredging 60 acres of contaminated muck from the lake bottom, and reconstructing the shoreline in the area. The contaminated muck held mercury and petroleum-laced sediment. I am glad to see it go, Muskegon Lake is getting close to being removed from the EPA’s list of a Great Lakes Area of Concern, an EPA list of toxic hot spots. Yeah!

Now, on to the photos. These are shots that I have taken in the last few weeks that are too good not to post, but don’t fit into any one category. I’ll start with a couple of cloud pictures.

Heart in the clouds

A new species of bird?

Cloud bird

OK, how about some real birds? First up, a white breasted nuthatch finding something good to eat. I shot these quickly, trying the spot metering mode of my Nikon. The results were better than usual, but not great.

White breasted nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch

White breasted nuthatch

The photos aren’t the greatest, but I like the series as it shows the nuthatch as it digs in the bark of the tree for a goody, which you can see in the bird’s beak in the last shot of the series, just before the nuthatch flew off to eat what it had found.

Then there’s this shot, just because I like it, the colors and the contrasts.

Berries, color and contrast

Then, a female cardinal that was perched near the top of a tree, something I rarely see.

Female northern cardinal

Cardinals of both sexes normally feed and stay closer to the ground than this, except when the males are singing. Then they will perch high in the trees, but I seldom see a female more than a few feet off the ground.

More berries.

Bright red berries, from a mountain ash if I remember right

I forgot which trees these berries were on, silly me. I think it was a mountain ash.

Back to birds, an American goldfinch.

American goldfinch

I’m not sure if it is male or female, the males molted their summer colors a couple of months ago.

A couple of ice shots from one of the ponds here.

Thin ice on a pond


Thin ice on a pond

A lone goose taking to water..

Canadian goose join the rest of the flock.

Canadian geese

I have complained about my Nikon a lot, but this last week I found out that it loves turkey!


Turkeys may appear black most of the time, but they’re not. It all depends on how the light reflects off from their feathers.


I really like the way the Nikon captured the colors of the turkeys, and the iridescence of their feathers. Hopefully I will be able to get some really good photos of the male turkeys doing their strutting in the spring, and will be able to do another “Turkey dance” post.

I don’t know if you’ve read the post I did titled “Good hikes gone bad” where I posted this photo of a great blue heron behind some trees….

Heron behind the ghost trees

Well, I took a couple of photos from where I was standing that day.

Scene of the crime

You can see the creek in the right side of this photo, that’s where I first saw the heron flying towards me.

Scene of the crime 2

That was shot looking slightly to the left, in the area where the heron was when I took the shot of it behind the ghost trees. As you can see, there are no trees there that would have blocked the shot the way it came out. It still bugs the crap out of me just where those two ghost trees came from that spoiled the heron photo. Oh well, that’s not the only frustrating heron photo.

Very bad photo of a heron in flight

I was tracking this heron as it walked through the cattails, just waiting for it to leap into flight. The auto focus was tracking the bird nicely, until this, the moment I pressed the shutter. There was a slight delay as the auto focus switched from the heron to the cattails in the foreground, then the shutter went. That was enough of a delay to cause me to chop off the birds bill, and of course the heron is out of focus, argh!

More bad heron pictures? I’ve got them.

Great blue heron in flight

I saved this one because it helps to show why great blue herons are called what they are, and not great grey herons. I don’t know if this one is starting to develop its spring mating color, or if it was a fluke of the camera, but this is the way herons are colored in mating season.

I took these two to demonstrate to some friends the way that using the exposure lock can help them to get better photos.

Red tailed hawk

That one was taken by just pointing the camera at the hawk and pressing the shutter.

Red tailed hawk2

For this second one, I tilted the camera down, pressed the shutter release half way to set the exposure for the side of the building, locked the exposure, then centered the hawk for the shot. The sky behind the hawk is washed out and over exposed, but at least you can make out a few details of the hawk.

One more heron in flight photo..

Great blue heron in flight

I have one more shot for this one. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that I go for a daily walk or hike around the apartment complex where I live, and many of my photos are taken then. I normally try to cut any signs of human development out of any photos from around here, but like with the hawk photos above, that isn’t always possible. I mean, I stepped out of the door of my apartment, and perched there on a building across from me was the hawk, kind of hard to cut the building out of that one. So here’s a shot that will give you an idea how nice it is here.

Where I live

OK, so I don’t live in any of the buildings in this photo, it is one of four ponds here, along with four creeks that cross the complex. I seldom “hunt” this pond, as it is surrounded by apartments. The other three ponds are on the outside edges of the complex, so I am not bothering any one when I wander around those ponds.

I have a view of one of the creeks from my apartment, but I loved this shot of the willow tree and its reflection in the pond. That’s the pond in the center of the complex, the rest of the buildings radiate outward like spokes in a wheel. In between are the creeks and fingers of wooded areas that block your view of the next set of buildings over.

They did a very nice job in designing the layout of this complex, leaving lots of wooded and brushy areas for wildlife to live, as evidenced by the photos I am able to get here. I watch deer, turkeys, birds, muskrats, herons, ducks, geese, even coyotes from my living room window. If I were of a mind to, I could sit out on the balcony of my apartment and take my photos from there, and save myself the daily walk. Being old and fat, I need all the exercise I can get.

I love it here, more than I ever thought I would. I’m not an apartment dweller by nature, I love living in the sticks. There are some upsides to apartment living, more free time to spend outdoors, not doing yard work or home maintenance projects. 🙂 I just signed another year lease, so it I’ll be here for at least six years total at the end of this one, who would have thought? Not me, but there is one thing that bothers me though, that is I have found that as I look around for subjects to photograph, I look small. That is, I look for subjects on the small-scale, like flowers and insects, and I wonder if that is affecting my vision as a photographer. I’ll have to do a post on that, or I should say, finish one I started.

I wasn’t sure if I should post that last picture, I don’t want to burst any one’s bubble if they thought that I spent all my time out in a wilderness area somewhere. I would love to get away more, but that isn’t possible right now, so I make do the best I can.

That’s it for this one, hope you enjoyed it bad photos and all, thanks for stopping by.


4 responses

  1. I am enjoying all of your posts. I am glad to hear about them cleaning up that area on Muskegon Lake. Is that particular area, the 60 acres, by any chance near the old paper mills, or the old tannery?? I can remember when I lived there, around 60 years ago, driving by the tannery and having to smell that awful odor.

    December 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

    • Thanks, Bob, I enjoy yours as well. The area being cleaned up now is on the south shore of the lake, at the narrowest point of the lake. The papermill is further west, that shut down a few years ago. I would be out on the lake fishing and the wind would shift driving the awful smell from the papermill towards me, and I would have to move to a different spot because my eyes would water so much from the fumes. I’m not sure where the tannery used to be, but that’s long gone as well. Just this week Consumers Energy announced that they are going to close down the Cobb powerplant on the east end of the lake. I’ll have more about that soon.

      December 6, 2011 at 1:45 pm

  2. Nice to hear some good news about the environment for a change! Love the photo of the berries, too.


    December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

  3. Good to hear the news, plus the series of nuthatch shots is great- they can be difficult to photograph, I know too well. Looks like a nice apartment complex- sounds like there’s enough wildlife around to make it interesting 🙂

    December 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm