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

My Week…Lucky me! Thursday to Saturday

Sunday

You can find a stand alone post about Sunday’s hike in Aman Park, here.

Monday

Monday’s installment has been moved here. It includes the quiet swans, mallards and other songbirds.

Tuesday

Tuesday’s installment can be found here. It’s the one with the mean swans picking on the geese.

Wednesday

Wednesday’s installment can be found here. The quiet swans return, dredging the bottom of the pond with a stick, along with sharp shinned and red-tailed hawks.

Thursday

Just as I thought, as soon as I started breaking this week up into daily posts, the action went dead around here. That’s OK, I need the break!

I messed up and posted Wednesday’s post before it was done, I was in a hurry to save it before work and clicked the wrong button. It was almost finished, all I had left to add were a few photos from when some one dropped an overly caffeinated chickadee bomb on me. There were chickadees everywhere, and all running at hyper-speed! I have posted many photos of them before, and there will be more in the future, so no need to add them now.

Other than that, it was a strange day in a way. When I first woke up, the lighting outside had a surreal quality to it, we had gotten some snow overnight, there was sunshine trying to burn through a high fog, I really wanted to get out there and capture the light, but had other things to do first. Like drink some coffee in hopes I can keep up with chickadees! Yeah, right.

By the time I did make it out for my walk, the fog had set in to the point where it was just a grey, dreary day. That’s really a shame, it would have been breathtaking out there if we had gotten some sun. I have noted many times this winter that we had gotten flash freezes, that’s where a storms starts as rain, then it turns cold, everything freezes, and we get a little snow to go with the ice. In fact, as I write this on Friday, we have had yet another one! But, back to Thursday.

All the swans were gone, both the pair that have been here the most, and the second pair that were just here for a day, and to provide me with some great photos! Today was an “almost” kind of day. I almost got a photo of a muskrat, but it dove just as I shot, so all I go was its tail. I almost got a great shot of a turkey roosting, but it heard me at the last second and ran off.

Side note, yet another reason to dislike the Red Wing hiking boots I have been wearing. Their super hard soles that will last forever make it very difficult to be quiet while walking! I am finding that I have a hard time sneaking up on critters when I am wearing them.

Back to my walk, other than the miniature ice formations that were everywhere…

Ice hanging from a single pine needle

Ice drop

…there wasn’t much to photograph. And, the ice would have been so much more impressive with some sun. Oh well, I did shoot this picture of the geese, not so much for the geese as the pattern of the ripples on the water.

Canadian geese and ripples

I know that there’s a term for the effect that the ripples have, it is both bothersome and pleasing to the mind at the same time, but I can’t remember what that term is.

Truth is, I am a bit burned out from the beginning of the week. Getting all those photos, cropping, and selecting which ones to use, trying to get it all into my blog, and trying to come up with some kind of format has left me worn out in a way. It was nice just to go for a walk and not shoot 150 photos, at least for one day.

I’m not happy with the way that I have presented this week so far, the daily posts are chopped up crap that are only good as far as the photos I have gotten. I know that I forgot many of the things that I wanted to be sure to write about, which was the reason for starting the weekly series in the first place. I’ll keep plugging away at it, I’m sure that as I work this out that it will get better! I don’t do mediocre! At least I try not to. I am open to suggestions on how to improve my blog.

Enough of that, on to Friday

Friday

The fog from yesterday gave way to rain showers last night, they were predicting a major snowstorm, at least 6 inches of snow, possibly a foot. As of when I went to bed very early this morning, just before 4 AM, we hadn’t gotten more than a dusting of snow. The snow picked up quite a bit after that, as I woke up to several inches of it coating everything outside in a layer of white. Yet another flash freeze, we must have had at least a dozen this winter, maybe more. Seems like I keep typing that over and over again. The wind is picking up, it is trying to blow the snow off from the trees, but the snow is frozen in place. It looks like the first snowfall of the year, yet one more time.

Things are back to normal, I am now finally all caught up with my photos and this blog, the snow plows aren’t clearing the  snow from the apartment complex, I have had a bite to eat washed down with much coffee, and I am ready for what the day will bring.

I’m back, and I guess I lied, we didn’t have a flash freeze, we have several inches of slush covered by several more inches of snow that is becoming slush. It’s a wet, sloppy mess out there.

I didn’t take many photos, I will get around to downloading the few that I did take tonight when I get home from work. It was snowing, the wind was blowing, and large chunks of the snow stuck to the trees was being blown off, so to protect the camera, it stayed inside my parka for most of the walk. I got dumped on a couple of times by large masses of snow coming off from the trees! It was hard to see much anyway, with the wind blowing the snow around, it does sting the eyes.

It was a good walk, I did see a few critters, mostly birds, and how in the heck do they manage to see while flying in a snowstorm? Aren’t their eyes bothered by snowflakes the way mine are? I guess not, there were a few ducks and geese flying around, and the original pair of swans are back in their pond, oh, and the ever present herring gulls.

Since I didn’t take many photos, and I’m not sure if any will even make into this entry, it gives me some time to do a snowy owl update. I am sure most of you are aware that large numbers of young snowy owls have come south this winter. Earlier, I was dead set on tracking one down and getting a photo. However, when I read that one had died of starvation near the Kalamazoo airport, I gave up that quest, even though I had a fairly good idea where to go to see one. I am not going to go chasing some poor bird down that is bordering on starvation, just so I can get a photo of it. From other local area bloggers, and other sources, I knew there were a number of snowy owls hanging around the Muskegon wastewater facility, many photos of them have been showing up around here.

Last week, I read an article online from the Muskegon Chronicle, all about the snowy owls that are wintering there, and it turns out that it isn’t that rare for them to do so. Large numbers of photographers set up there, waiting for the owls to show up. The workers there, and visiting owl experts who monitor the owls every winter, report that they are in good shape this year. Good news!

I had been planning a trip there until the owl in Kalamazoo died, now that I know the owls in Muskegon are doing OK, I am going to try to make it over there one of these weekends before the owls return home to northern Canada. If the weather forecast is correct, I may do that on Sunday.

Speaking of the weather, the ups and downs are forecast to continue. All this slush and snow we’re getting today is supposed to be gone again by Wednesday, when it is predicted that the highs will be near 50 degrees again, just in time for another storm and cool down. We’ll see. After that, the real warm up is forecast, with highs in the 50’s and maybe even some 60’s, won’t that be nice! Spring is on its way!

Saturday

Spring may be on its way, but we’re dealing with a dose of winter right now. The storm from yesterday had about ended, then the lake effect machine kicked in for one of the few times this year, and I had a long, miserable night at work, made longer and even more miserable by the fact that I stopped on my way home to do my grocery shopping.

The lake effect machine is still at it off and on, it was looking quite nice outside, even a little sunshine as I drank coffee, ate breakfast, and watched the squirrels and hawk outside my window. Now, it is snowing again.

Since it’s snowing, I thought I would take care of some business, like starting laundry and paying some bills online. I found that Fatcow had billed my credit card for another year of website hosting, even though I had my account set not to be automatically billed. That didn’t come as a complete shock, it seems to be the way that businesses operate these days, if you can’t make money above board, cheat your customers with stealth tactics. I can’t complain too much about Fatcow, their website hosting seemed to be a quality operation, even if their low come on rates are actually just that, advertised low rates to get you to sign up, once you do, you learn the true cost of their service. After some time on hold, a very nice young man told me the charges would be reversed, they had better be.

So, now it is already after noon, and I am still fooling around indoors, it looks like the snow may be letting up, at least for a while, we’ll see.

Waiting for a while allowed the sun to come out for part of my hike, there was snow and clouds at other times, and all the time, there was a bone chilling wind blowing.

One of the times while the sun was out, I shot some more glistening ice photos.

Ice

Ice

Then, it occurred to me that I should try to capture one of the water drops dripping from the ice, not an easy task, but I did manage this one.

Water dripping from ice

It looks better if you click on it to see it full size.

I was going to try for a better shot, when the entire chunk of snow and ice came crashing down, I did get a photo of that, but I won’t bore you with it.

With the dripping ice gone, I turned around just in time to see one of the sharp shinned hawks go screaming past, I was slow with the camera and all I got were very bad photos of it behind the tree branches.

A little farther along, I played hide and seek with a pair of turkeys that were using one of the carports as a place to get out of the wind, and their feet out of the snow on the ground.

Turkeys dunking into a carport

The wet sticky snow on the ground was also sticking to the turkey’s legs, you can see a little of that in the photo. I’ll bet standing on dry pavement in the carport felt good to them. This is the kind of day that it was.

Blue sky and clouds

One of the fox squirrels was basking in the sun.

Fox squirrel basking in the sun

The wind was forming interesting patterns in the snow.

Wind blown snow

I stopped at the first pond of the day, nothing but a few mallards, didn’t even shoot them. Then, at the next pond, I saw a pair of geese in the snow.

Canadian geese

And on the other side of the pond, a lone swan.

Lone mute swan

Almost as if on cue, it started running on the water for take off.

Mute swan taking flight

It takes them a while to build up speed.

Mute swan taking flight

Mute swan taking flight

Eventually it got airborne.

Mute swan taking flight

Mute swan in flight

unfortunately, some of my best shots of it actually flying were obscured by tree branches and not very good. I’m throwing this one in anyway, for how would you like to look out the window of your apartment and see this!

Mute swan flying past an apartment

Then the clouds rolled back in.

Clouds

I did see a few robins trying to stay warm in the wind, I tried very hard to get a good shot of this one…

American robin

…but that’s the best of a bad lot. I’m not sure why, I walked in an arc around the robin trying different lighting angles and switching between clouds and blue sky for a background, but nothing seemed to work today. The reason I worked so hard for a photo of a robin is that this one was in one of the trees that the birds have ignored up until now. I think it is because they have finished off almost all the berries on the trees they have been feeding on.

The only other photo I took was this one of waterfowl tracks from one of the ponds to the evergreens around the ponds.

Waterfowl tracks in the snow

I have seen this around here many times, the ducks and geese both huddle under the evergreens when it is snowing hard, and at night. I don’t recall having ever seen that happen anywhere other than here. But, maybe that’s one of the things you can learn by walking the same place day after day.

You may not have guessed it from the photos and my story so far, but it was a strangely quiet day around here today. I don’t know if it is because I was out there later than normal, or because of the nasty wind. I saw and heard a few tweety birds, but not many, nothing like it is normally around here.

The only other thing of note is that my legs were just getting used to the Red Wing hiking boots I have been using the last few weeks, and I stepped on a liquor bottle buried in the snow, and rolled my ankle, like it needed that. This place used to be kept spotless, but I’m not going on the rant now.

Three quiet days in a row, that’s unusual around here, but I needed that in order to get caught up. It was a very good week, and I took some great photos if I do say so myself. I’m not completely happy with the way that this weeks entry is turning out, but I’ll keep working on it until I get it right.

I haven’t decided yet about going snowy owl hunting in Muskegon tomorrow, I’ll decide when I see what the weather is going to really be, and not what they are predicting. I’d like to get an early start for a change, but I’ve got some cooking to do before I can go. That’s one thing I dislike about working second shift, I miss early morning excursions outdoors.

First light is my favorite time of the day, and the way my life is now, I seldom get the chance to enjoy that. I need to win the lottery and quit working for a living. 😉

Well, that’s it for this week, hopefully next week’s installment will work out better, with many great photos as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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9 responses

  1. You’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, so I’m not the one to offer advice. All I know is Wednesday and Saturday posts work for me because just getting posts ready for those two days eats up all the other days.That’s all I have time for. I think if somehow I suddenly had to post each day I’d have to give it up.
    So far I find all of your latest expiriments easy to read, though I kept getting lost this past week, not knowing what day I should read. It’ll happen and all fall into place for you, I’m sure.

    February 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    • Thanks, although I hardly consider myself an old pro at blogging yet. The object wasn’t the number of posts when I started doing the weekly series, it was supposed to be a place for me to jot down notes about my daily walks. It only took a week before I lost sight of that and got carried away. I’ll get it right.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

  2. Northern Narratives

    The photo of the mute swan trying to get airborne is totally wonderful.

    February 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    • Thank you, for once I was in the right place at the right time.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:13 am

  3. I vote for snowy hunting! Another great series!

    February 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm

  4. The fox squirrel image is suitable for framing! And the mute swan sequence is very good as well. Your photography skills get better and better!

    February 27, 2012 at 12:40 am

    • Thanks. There are times that I would like to chuck my fancy digital camera and go back to my old Pentax, but those times are getting farther and farther apart all the time.

      February 27, 2012 at 2:16 am

  5. Great photo captures! Love the swan taking flight, they do ‘walk on water’ a bit before getting all that bird airborne! LOL And the squirrel shot, the colors in that photo are gorgeous, perfect lighting! I did open up your ice drop, capturing the rainbow colors in it is pretty cool. It’s definitely not easy catching a drop in mid-air, I’ve done it but it took many MANY shots & lots of patience to get that one. 🙂

    I understand how sometimes it is nice there isn’t anything to photograph so you can catch up on the hundreds you took in just the previous days. It takes a lot to process & select photos for sharing. I certainly wouldn’t be able to do a daily post with working and life, unless I won the lottery too! Guess though I need to play it first, LOL.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    • Thank you! If you take 250 photos one day, and zero the next, it still works out to 125 a day, which is about what I am averaging this last week. I am actually looking forward to bad weather to give me a little break for a while. 🙂

      February 28, 2012 at 2:57 am