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

Mona and Muskegon Lake channels, and a sunset

After my hike in P. J. Hoffmaster State Park yesterday, my legs were tired, but I wasn’t ready to call it quits for the day. For one thing, the weather and the weather forecast led me to believe that there was the possibility of a vivid sunset occurring that evening. If that happened, I wanted to be there by Lake Michigan to capture it.

I was only a couple of miles from Lake Harbor Park, which is a city park on the north side of the channel that goes from Mona Lake to Lake Michigan, so I thought, why not zip over there and see what’s going on.

American Black Duck

Ducks were what was going on, apparently people feed them, as soon as they saw me, they came swimming over. I’m not used to that, normally I have to sneak up on my subjects, with these, I had trouble staying far enough away to get them all in the frame!

American Black Duck watching a mallard land

The American Black duck looks just about like a female mallard, but they are bigger, their head has a different shape, and they have a different quack than a mallard.

American Black Duck quacking

I know their quacks probably look the same, but believe me, they sound different.

American Black Duck

Oh come on now, please quack again so the readers can tell the difference.

American Black Duck

Thank you!

Actually, I think that this one is a hybrid, a cross between a true black duck and a mallard. That does happen from time to time. I guess I’m not sure what it is, but that’s my best guess.

There were mallards as well.

Male mallard

The way the late afternoon light was hitting this male made his head look blue, rather than green.

Male mallard

Either that, or I discovered two new species of ducks there. 😉 The almost American black duck…

American Black Duck

and the blue headed mallard.

Thankfully there were a few regular mallards there as well.


I strolled the path that runs alone the end of Mona Lake, I watched an eagle hunting out over the lake for a while. It was too far away for photos, but I took some anyway. I’m not sure why I do that, I knew I would delete them when I saw them, and I did.

I did shoot a few of the herring gulls.

Herring gull landing

Zoomed in.

Herring gull landing

The gull has food of some type in its bill, and landed on the ice to chow down, away from all the other gulls in the area.

I was a bit bored with shooting gulls in flight over Mona Lake, so I drove a few more miles to the Muskegon Lake channel, and shot more gulls in flight over Muskegon Lake.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

I figured what the heck, there wasn’t much else going on, and practicing shooting birds in flight is always worthwhile. Herring gulls are great practice, there are a lot of them, and they will fly close by, giving you lots of opportunities to practice, so I did.

Herring gull in flight

They may be called flying rats, and some other not so nice names, but I like them.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

Bored with the gulls? How about a couple of male red-breasted mergansers?

Red-breasted mergansers

I couldn’t get close to them. As soon as I tried, they would dive, then pop back up on the other side of the channel, until some one tried to get close to them there, then they would come back towards me. Here’s a female red-breasted merganser taking off.

Female red-breasted merganser taking off

They have to “run” across the water to build up enough speed for flight.

Female red-breasted merganser

And when nothing else will cooperate, there’s always the gulls.

Herring gull in flight

It was getting near dusk, time for the sunset. I found a spot to hang out and wait for it, you wouldn’t believe how many people show up right around dusk every night to watch the sunset. As I was waiting, I noticed the moon rising, and flocks of gulls on their way out into the lake to spend the night, and you know me, a moon plus birds equals photo-op!

Herring gull in flight past the moon

The sun started to set…

Sunset over Lake Michigan

…but it wasn’t spectacular yet. I looked down in front of me, and the dune grass looked as if it was coated in spider webs, taking on the colors of the sunset!

Dune grass at sunset

I started shooting..

Dune grass at sunset

and shooting some more..

Dune grass at sunset

Dune grass at sunset

I like them all, lens flare and all.

Then the sun set.

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Sunset over Lake Michigan

It was an OK sunset, not as good as I had hoped.

Sunset over Lake Michigan

Sunset over Lake Michigan

All in all, not a bad day. That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


12 responses

  1. Beautiful photos! I love the birds and the sunset!
    God Bless You!

    February 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    • Thank you!

      February 6, 2012 at 12:44 am

  2. Beautiful images. 🙂

    February 6, 2012 at 3:40 am

    • Thanks Mike

      February 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

  3. Those are excellent pictures.

    February 6, 2012 at 5:31 am

    • Thank you, I appreciate the feedback!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

  4. Enjoyed this post again. Looking forward to the next one. I love the way you keep me up to date on the happenings around Western Michigan.

    February 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

    • Thank you, I love seeing west Texas from your point of view!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

  5. You had me laughing at trying to get ‘away’ from the ducks instead of sneaking up, LOL Our mallards/black ducks are the same way. Gulls too, they think they’re getting a hand out too! And then you had me aweing as I continued. Love the dunes glowing like spiderwebs and of course the sunset. I’m always a sucker for one of those! 🙂

    February 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

    • Thank you! I felt like I was cheating, shooting tame ducks. The ducks around my apartment complex are more wild than you would think, they are tough to get close to.

      February 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  6. Northern Narratives

    Birds and sunset – what a great combination.

    February 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

    • Thank you! But I can’t wait for spring when I can throw in a few flowers as well.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm