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

My Week…Lucky me! Sunday


This week’s installment of “My Week…” is getting way too long already, and I have tons of great photos that I was going to put in stand alone posts, but rather than do that, I am going to do this week as daily posts, at least until my luck runs out.

It is bright and sunny, but still cool outside yet, and I am having a hard time getting motivated. Part of that is simple, I haven’t had anything to eat yet this morning and my energy level is way down, but, there’s more to it than that.

Some of it is because of the “winter doldrums” which may sound funny considering that we haven’t had much of a winter here. But, it has been brown outdoors since November, and I am ready for spring and lush, vivid green growth! I am so ready for the flowers and migrating birds to return!

Part of my lack of motivation has to do with making a decision as to where to go today. Several commenters have reminded me how lucky I am to live where I see so much wildlife on a daily basis, how my schedule permits me to do the daily walks I take, and capture the photos that I do. But, I want more, I suppose I’m greedy. I am by nature a traveller, even if it is only a day trip somewhere. I miss not being able to do that any longer, or for the time being anyway.

My poor old Ford Explorer is falling apart on me, and I can neither afford to repair or replace it at this time, so I have to make it last, and that means driving it as little as possible. I would love to be putting an itinerary together of all the places I want to go this spring, summer, and fall. A kayaking trip to Ludington State Park, a long weekend at the new Rockport State Park, a week in the Pigeon River Country, but I doubt if many of them will happen this year.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt, that isn’t the way I feel about my daily hikes, but I do want more.

I’ve done a dumb thing and stuck out the crummy job that I have until I am close to being fully vested in the pension plan, and getting two weeks paid vacation. I hate to admit it, but I am getting on in years, and throwing away a few extra bucks a month from any pension plan after I retire probably isn’t the wisest choice I could make. Having two weeks paid vacation sounds good, even if I can only afford to take one week off at this time.

And, part of my lack of motivation is because I have been wishing for a partner to join me for some of my excursions. It worked out so well when Larri and I went together, as when one of us stopped to photograph something, the other one was there to act as “lookout” and catch anything else that may have come along.

If all this sounds like whining, I suppose it is in a way, but I feel the need to explain some things from time to time. I have some long draft posts started on a few of these things, and I am going to go ahead and delete them, as they are whining. I know that I have put my self in the situation I am in, and it’s up to me to get myself back out of it. I assure you, I will not be opening a Pay Pal account and begging for donations through this blog, and neither am I advertising for a partner.

Time to get something to eat, and then head out somewhere, I guess I will decide that on the way. 🙂

OK, I’m back, but for some reason, not I’m not in a much better mood. It was a good day for a long hike, I took some really good photos, and a lot of not so good photos. Usually a good long hike on a day like today always changes my mood.

I went to Aman Park, I haven’t been there for almost a year, I decided it was high time to visit it again. I used to see pileated woodpeckers there on a regular basis, and was hoping to get some good photos of them. Not only didn’t I see or hear any today, I didn’t see any fresh signs that they have been in the area. And other than birds, there aren’t many critters in the park during the day, too many people there. So it was today, the park wasn’t as crowded as I expected, and by sticking to the long outer loops, I was able to avoid most of the people who take the short inner loops, but I could hear kids screaming most of the day.

Things started out well enough, I was able to get these pictures of a red-breasted nuthatch.

Red-breasted nuthatch

I made full use of the capabilities of my Nikon to shoot many photos quickly to get these photos! These little buggers make chickadees seem like snails as far as how quickly they move!

Red-breasted nuthatch

I have several photos that show nothing more than a blue blur, and a couple with nothing more than empty branches as the bird moved out of the frame as I was taking a photo.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Then, there was this magnificent sycamore tree practically glowing in the bright sunshine.

Sycamore tree in the sun

Then there were these fern-like plants that I used to know the name of, sorry, but I have forgotten what they are, if you can identify them, I would appreciate it.

Ostrich ferns

They are a fairly common plant, I see them often, but something about the light and background prompted me to shoot that one, which looks a lot better full size by the way. Thanks Allen from the New Hampshire Garden Solutions for identifying these ferns for me.

I crossed one of the small feeder creeks to Sand Creek by going across where an earthen bridge had been all but washed away…

Foot trail all but washed away

…the last little bit of the trail that was left was  muddy and very slick, so when I finished that loop, I looked for another spot to cross the creek, and spied these ice formations on the creek.

Ice on a small creek

Ice on a small creek

While still looking for a place to cross the creek, I looked up to see a red-tailed hawk circling over me, almost as if it were taunting me, because of all the tree branches.

Red-tailed hawk through the tree branches

What the hawk obviously didn’t know is that I practice those kinds of shots everyday, so by timing its flight and shooting between the branches, I got these!

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

It isn’t everyday that I am able to outwit a hawk.

Sorry if this hasn’t been up to my usual standards, but half of the Kent County Sheriffs department has been outside my apartment for some time now, and it looks as if one of my neighbors is getting a free trip to jail.

The rest of my hike was much less eventful, there were a few birds, nothing close enough for a photo though. I was a bit bummed that I didn’t get more and better pictures, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’ll have to go back to Aman Park latter in the spring for what it is really known for, the large numbers of wildflowers.

As I was pulling onto the street for my apartment, I spotted ice formations sparkling in the late afternoon sunlight, like this.

Ice sparkling in the sun

I parked the explorer, grabbed the camera, and shot these.

Ice sparkling in the sun

Ice sparkling in the sun

Ice sparkling in the sun

Ice sparkling in the sun

Since I was out there, and had my camera in hand, I had to go over and see if the swans were there. I drove past the pond on my way out, the swans weren’t there then, the pond had iced over during the cold night that we had. They were back, but I couldn’t convince them, or the ducks, to swim over to the really great lighting of the evening sun, this was the best I could get.

Evening mute swan

I also shot this one, because the swan was using its neck and head to break the thin ice.

Evening mute swan

I now know why I was lacking in motivation this morning, some of what I explained in the beginning holds true, but it is also because I know my best chances of getting great wildlife photos is right here at home! It’s like living in a wildlife refuge, heck, it’s better than any wildlife refuge I’ve ever been to!

However, I do not live by wildlife alone, while there are tons of critters running around here, I would miss the trees, hills, dunes, open vistas, and other types of terrain that don’t exist here. So, when I am debating as to where to go on a weekend, I am trying to find places that will top what I have here, but there aren’t any as far as wildlife is concerned. That makes it a tough decision to make. Do I hike someplace for just wildlife, which means staying home, or hiking someplace else to satisfy my desires for nature other than wildlife?

I’ll figure it out, I always do. It may mean that some hikes won’t have many photos, or will just be mentioned in passing, but I can’t live only to post photos to my blog.

Anyway, since it is already Wednesday as I type this, I can tell you that there are some of the best photos that I have ever taken coming up in the next couple of daily posts, which is why this week is going to be done in daily installments. There are swans, geese, ducks, hawks, tweety birds, just to name a few species, with action shots along with the interactions of some of those species, and photos of a swan using a tool, at least that’s what it looked like to me.

So sorry for daily posts, but I don’t want to make one huge post that ends up even longer than last week’s.

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


10 responses

  1. Northern Narratives

    You are indeed lucky to have so much beautiful nature outside your door. I enjoy your photos.

    February 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm

  2. love your photos.. the sweet birds, the blue of the sky, the amazing gold in the swan photos, just beautiful!

    February 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    • Thank you!

      February 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

  3. I second that-you really have just about everything a nature photographer could want just steps from your door. It’s an amazing place to live. I thought the nuthatch shots were really good, but I liked them all.

    Your unknown fern looks like the fruiting frond of an ostrich fern. I haven’t seen too many of them around here this year.

    February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

  4. The white-breasted nuthatch has been eluding my lens. I enjoy seeing these pics of its red-breasted kin.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    • Thank you! Small birds are much harder to photograph than the larger ones, even though people tend to “ooo” and “aaahhh” more over photos of smaller birds.

      February 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

  5. Zelmare

    Love your photographs, especially the sycamore (I’m a tree and cloud lover!). 🙂
    I think I know how you are feeling. That unsettled, half-grumpy, dissatisfied feeling that is not easily banished. I felt like that Monday and yesterday, today a LOT better, so hope you feel more motivated and positive soon! 🙂

    February 23, 2012 at 12:47 am

  6. Pingback: My Week…Lucky me! Thursday to Saturday « Quietsolopursuits's Blog

  7. I know what you mean about all the brown. I’m so ready….Either snow or spring is what I say. I am over the brown. LOVE the red-tailed hawk and ice photos. Great series!

    February 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    • Thank you, in a way, this winter has been nice in that almost every time it snows it has looked like the first snowfall of the year.

      February 27, 2012 at 2:01 am