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

My Week…The end is in sight

The My Week series of posts is a daily running journal that I do on the walks that I take daily around the apartment complex where I live. I’m located just south of the second largest city in Michigan, Grand Rapids, in the southwest part of the state. It was inspired in part by the phenology project done by Rebecca on her blog, Rebecca in the Woods.

Here you will find my thoughts about the wildlife that share this area, and maybe my thoughts on a news item I have read that pertains to nature or the environment. You can click on any of the photos to get a larger view of them.

This post covers the week from May 27 to June 2, 2012

Sunday

On Sunday I went to Muskegon, first to the wastewater treatment facility, then to Muskegon State Park for what turned out to be a pretty good day of drive-by birding. That’s covered in a separate post which you can read here.

Monday

The heat continues, so I am going to try to make it out there before the heat becomes too much for me.

I did two laps and I was done before 1 PM, and it was already too hot for me before I started the second lap.

It struck me today that in many ways, very high temperatures are just as tough on the wildlife as the extreme cold of winter. The few creatures stirring today were those who had young mouths to feed. The rest of the critters were in the coolest spots they could find, trying to keep from melting. Yes, I did shoot a picture of a goose panting in the heat, but I decided that you’ve seen that already, no need to post another.

In fact, I shot less than 60 photos today, despite the hazy sunshine that could have produced some good photos, and did in fact. Here’s a sampler.

Flowering bush

Snapdragon

Watercress in bloom

Day lily

I know I have posted a few of the yellow day lilies before, I threw that one in for a reason. I guess that I’m a slow learner, as it has taken me quite some time to learn that the Nikon 70-300 mm lens I have does not perform well when zoomed all the way to 300 mm. The resolution from that lens gets really bad at 300 mm, so, I am taking more shots at the lower end of its range, then cropping to get close-ups. The lens does perform really well at the lower end of its range. Now, if I could train myself not to zoom in all the way when trying for action shots of birds I would be all set. The other alternative would be to buy a better quality lens, but that’s not going to happen for a while.

In the meantime, I’ll keep playing around to find out how far I can go before the resolution begins to drop off.

The only other shot of note today is this one.

Young cottontail rabbits

I have to thank one of my neighbors, Eugene, for pointing the bunnies out to me today. He was worried about the babies, as the mother didn’t seem to be around very often. I explained to him that the mother’s presence could be more dangerous for the young, as far as predators. It is easier for predators to spot the mother, if she stuck around the young most of the time, then the predators would be more likely to find her young. Young rabbits don’t have any scent to them, so it is hard for predators to find them.

It’s kind of funny, my neighbor couldn’t believe that I didn’t know about the bunnies. Apparently, I am acquiring the reputation as the “Nature Guy” around here because he told me “We thought that you knew about everything around here”. The “we” was not lost on me, it must be that more of my neighbors than I thought notice me while I am doing these daily walks. That explains all the questions of late from my neighbors about the wildlife here. Right now, most of the questions are about the young critters, people are worried about them. I suppose that I had better start doing a better job of knowing where all the babies are around here. 😉

I think that’s all for today, on to Tuesday.

Tuesday

It finally rained last night, washing some of the pollen and dust out of the air, and hopefully refilling the ponds and creeks. The leaves on the trees were beginning to rattle when the wind blew, it has been that dry. It’s much more comfortable this morning, and if the weather forecast is to believed, I may even have to put on a long-sleeved shirt later on this week. From highs around 90 degrees, it’s predicted that the highs will be around 60 degrees mid-week. That’s OK by me! Rain will still be sparse, we could use some more, but any is better than none. So, it’s time for me to get out there and enjoy this return to nicer weather.

It seems like the change in weather agreed with the critters as well, they were all out and about enjoying the cooler temperatures. So much so that I think that today’s entry will be a photo dump, and I’m not even going to throw in the bad action shots of a great blue, and a green heron.

Green dragonfly

Blue dragonfly eating lunch

Muskrat

Cottontail rabbits

Brown damselfly

Killdeer in flight

butterfly getting a drink

Barn swallow preening

Spotted sandpiper

butterfly, spotted sandpiper, and barn swallow in the same frame

Belted kingfisher flying overhead

Killdeer and its reflection

Don’t you just love it when you can stand in one spot and just shoot away at many different species at the same time?

Snapdragon

Unidentified butterfly

Unidentified butterfly

Young cottontail rabbits

I know, nothing that you haven’t seen here before, but hey, this is an apartment complex, and a truly amazing one it is! When you can go for a walk around here on a day like today and post these photos while throwing out several dozen others of other species, it has been a good day! There was one small tree that is producing berries already that had over a dozen birds in it feeding on those berries. There were cedar waxwings, several robins, a female cardinal, and a catbird all in that one small tree, and even though none of the photos are all that great, seeing that was special.

Too bad we didn’t have this kind of weather over the long holiday weekend, I could have tried out my new chair while sitting on the balcony. Maybe even get some photos of the birds that spend most of their time in the leaf canopy, one of these days I’ll try that.

In the meantime, it is supposed to cool off even more for tomorrow, that won’t bother me a bit.

That’s it for today, on to Wednesday.

Wednesday

Time for one of my morning rants, this time about customer service, and seeing a store brand that I liked to shop at going downhill. The store, JC Penney. Penney’s has been my “Go to” store for clothes for almost 40 years now, they have clothes that fit me at a reasonable price. At 6 feet 6 inches tall, the average store does not carry clothes that fit me correctly, JC Penney does.

So, the reason for the rant? A week ago Sunday, I placed an order online with both JC Penney and Cabelas. Last Wednesday, I received two things, the complete order from Cabelas, and an email from Penney telling me that everything that I had ordered was in stock, and they would even get around to shipping my order one of these days.

That’s not the type of customer service that I am used to when dealing with them. That goes with an article that I glanced through which attempted to explain why JC Penney was losing business. The author of the article chalked it up to the new CEO’s new value pricing system, which may be part of the reason why Penney is in trouble, but I think poor customer service is a big part as well.

It’s now a week after my order from Cabelas was delivered, and I’m still waiting for the order from JC Penney. Both orders were processed by distribution centers in the midwest, about equal distance away from me.

Waiting an extra week for an order to arrive isn’t really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life, but the difference between a growing brand, like Cabela, and what saddens me to say, a dying brand like JC Penney, can often be traced to one thing, customer service.

The flip side of all this is the excellent customer service from Cabelas! I have been dealing with them for a very long time as well, since they were a struggling small company trying to make inroads in the sporting goods industry. They continue to improve, and they continue to grow. Why is it so very difficult for upper management at some of these companies to see what it is that brings customers back time and time again over the years?

OK, I’m done with the rant, time for the real reason for this, my daily walk. It has cooled off, a lot. I actually thought about closing the windows this morning because it was so cool, but then, I wouldn’t have been able to listen to the birds singing as I was drinking my coffee. There are priorities! There’s even a frost advisory for the areas not too far north of me for tonight. Back to my kind of weather, cool nights, and pleasant daytime temperatures. So, it’s time for a walk!

Crisp, cool air, a mixture of sun and clouds, if it hadn’t been for time constraints, I probably would have filled my memory card today! There are so many things that I love about this time of year, the weather (most of the time), the sight and sounds of birds singing, new life coming into the world, but most of all, it’s the colors.

For six months, we get to see basically three colors, brown, grey, and white, or shades there of. I don’t think that mankind has come up with a color that something in nature hadn’t already been using.

Unidentified blue moth

Or, combinations of colors.

Moth or butterfly?

Or patterns.

Pine cone

Throw colors and patterns together, add some light, and check out the wings of this dragonfly.

Yellow dragonfly

Or these flowers.

Begonias

Blue flower

Miniature azaleas

And the birds.

Great blue heron in flight

A pair of American goldfinches

And even if the birds are brown and white, they live in green.

Song sparrow

Throw them all together, and you get things like this.

Cedar waxwing feeding on berries

Now then, for another bad action shot, a black-capped chickadee.

Black capped chickadee in flight

I have lots of chickadee photos, so I haven’t been trying to photograph them lately, and I decided today that it was one of the reasons I am getting slow on the trigger when it comes to getting better action shots. I had forgotten just how quickly the chickadees flit around, and I was having a really tough time getting any photo of them sitting, let alone flying. A few minutes of chasing them around made a remarkable difference in my reaction time.

I’ve spent too much time on pictures like these of late.

Canada goose

Canada geese

But, I wanted to get photos of the goslings to document their growth.

Canada geese

They’re growing almost as fast as the weeds they are eating. That’s all for today, on to Thursday.

Thursday

The rain is headed this way, so I want to get going before it gets here. We need it, and the next three days are predicted to be cool and wet, so there probably won’t be many photos from the rest of this week. That’s OK, as badly as we need the rain, I don’t need to be posting any more bad action shots for a while. 😉

Sorry every one, I am in a really foul mood after dealing with the staff and management for the apartment complex. It’s rent time again, and I went online to pay mine, as online payments are a feature they have just now gotten around to instituting. I wasted a good half hour to forty-five minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. First, when I went to sign on, I was told my password was invalid. OK, I’ll sign up again, so I filled out everything needed on the website, only to find that this complex is no longer on the list of those where you can pay online.

Great, I wasted all that time for nothing, I’ll write a check and hand deliver it to the office, which I did. Yet another new staffer who doesn’t know the system yet. First he told me I had made the check out for the wrong amount. Really? My rent’s been the same since November of last year, I may be dumb, but not so dumb as to not be able to look up what I have been paying for the last seven months and make this month’s check out for the same amount. “Oops, my mistake.” (Like I have heard that enough in the last two years, usually when they are accusing me having been late with the check the month before) Then, I had the great pleasure of standing there while he learned how to work the receipt book, and then learned how to fill out a receipt, which I was told I didn’t need, as my cancelled check is a receipt. (Yeah, but the receipt is quicker next month than having to get a copy of the cancelled check when you accuse me of having been late with the check this month) Besides, “You don’t have to pay in person, you can pay online (I tried that, it didn’t work) or drop the check in the drop box”. (But every time I drop a check in the drop box, you claim I’m late paying my rent, and I’m on to your little scam of trying to squeeze an extra twenty bucks a month out of me by claiming I was late with last month’s check)

Then, to top it off, I got back from my walk to find a letter in the mailbox from the management here. They’re too cheap to make any upgrades to the Internet service, so they are going to slap a limit on how much we can use the service. I loved the reason they gave, since some of who are signed up for the service actually use it, it isn’t fair to those who are signed up for it and don’t use it. Since this is an apartment complex, they have control over who you can have as an Internet provider, and the only one that they allow is their own re-branded service that they purchase from one of the cable companies. It’s that or go to a wireless provider, which I had used for years but wasn’t happy with either.

OK, the weather, it was cool and cloudy, so cool I was glad that I wore a rain jacket in case the rain made it here, which it didn’t, not until after I was done with my walk anyway.

I did chase a number of herons around the back pond, or I should say that the red-winged blackbirds and I chased the herons around. I didn’t get any shots of the actual chases, I was trying for some good stills, especially of the green herons. As I would be trying to get a still of one heron, another one would take flight to escape the attacking red-winged blackbirds, so here’s a few that I got.

Great blue heron with catch

Great blue heron swallowing its catch

Great blue heron taking off

Great blue heron in flight

The heron in that instance was actually headed back to its nest to feed its young. The great blue herons must nest to the west of me, and a number of them use the apartment complex as a flyway to and from their feeding grounds. As I was shooting the series above, two other great blues flew past me overhead going to the west, and one was headed east. That could have been one of the ones that had gone west previously.

There was also a pair of green herons at the back pond being chased around, I really tried for some good shots, but these two are the best of a bad lot.

Green heron in flight

Green heron sinking in the mud

The green herons are a lot tougher to photograph well because they are only the size of a crow, and almost as dark. The great blue seemed to know that I wasn’t as interested in it, as it kept posing close to me, and even chased off one of the greens to hunt where the green had been hunting.

That’s all for today, on to Friday.

Friday

My foul mood continues, and it has nothing to do with the dark, dreary, wet weather we are having. I love this kind of weather, even though I only took a couple of photos today, which I haven’t downloaded from my camera yet. They will go to the Weekly Challenge which this week is “Today” if they even came out.

I really need to make some changes in my life, as I have hinted at before. I am getting up there in years, and I am also tired of being too broke to afford to replace my vehicle, which is dying more everyday.

I’ve loved this apartment since I moved in, but it is too expensive for my current income, and this is really hard to admit, I now am eligible to move into senior housing or condo complexes. I just did a quick check online, and I can purchase a condo that is almost an exact duplicate of my apartment for $36,000, which would cut my housing expenses by over half. Not only that, the condo comes with a garage, which means I could get my big stuff out of a storage unit I currently rent, saving me another $110 a month.

I have ten years to go until I retire, and I don’t want to spend those ten years or my retirement stuck inside an apartment and not be able to do anything but take the typical old fart’s walk around the neighborhood. There are places I want to go and things I want to see before I die, and that’s not going to happen if I continue my current lifestyle.

And the level of service here at Byron Lakes continues to go downhill. I was so ticked off about the way they changed the level of Internet service here that I went over to the office to cancel the service at the end of June. They made me fill out the paperwork while they sat and watched. What a bunch of BS!

Before I go off on a real rant, I’d better get back on track. What cancelling my Internet service means is that my days of blogging will be over for a while. I will be sorry about that, but along with standing on principle as far as getting jerked around by management here, I will be saving $50 a month towards a condo and car. That’s not a lot, bt every little bit helps.

I have been using this blog as an excuse not to get on with my life and make the changes that need to be made. I have some faithful readers whom I will miss, but it will only be for a while. I may not be able to keep up with all posts from every one of the blogs that I follow, but I will get online from time to time in an attempt to keep up somewhat. I won’t end this blog, it will be more or less suspended for a while until I get my life where I want it to be.

Moving into cheaper housing will enable me to afford a better vehicle, and even go places again. So when I get back to blogging on a regular basis, this blog should be better than ever.

Until then, I have to get off my dead rear end and make things happen. As if to highlight the quandary I have been in over whether to move or not, I just stepped into the kitchen to grab something to eat before work, and one of the catbirds was perched on the railing of the balcony. I do love the wildlife here, much of which I have learned to identify individuals critters within their species.

A few of the condos that I glanced over when I did the quick check are close to this area, and I have walked some of the parks that are close by those condos, so I’m not sure there would be that big of a difference in my daily walks anyway.

To sum this all up, I will have Internet service until the last day in June, and I will continue this blog in its present format until then. After that, I will do an occasion post from time to time by using a wi-fi hotspot. I hope to have found a new place to live and be moved in by the end of the year, and then I will resume blogging full-time again.

Enough of that. The weather today, cold, dark, and misty. I have never seen such a heavy mist, I wouldn’t call it a rain, as I never saw raindrops making splashes in any of the puddles left over from the rain last night, but there sure was a lot of moisture in the air. And, I did come back very wet, on the outside. We still need more rain, the ponds and creeks are only back to normal, and according to the forecast, there’s a chance of rain until Monday.

I wore a winter parka today, as much because of the precipitation and wind as the cold, but I’m not sure that the temperature made it above 50 degrees while I was walking.

The weather today brought home a point that I have been meaning to make for some time now, how many and how much the male birds sing seems to be directly influenced by the weather. A few days ago when it was very hot, very few birds were singing. When it cooled off and we had sunny days with pleasant temps, the birds went insane with their singing. Today, cold, windy, and wet, almost no birds were singing.

I just got off the phone with my boss, and due to the holiday this past Monday, they are behind in their deliveries, and I will have to do a double run to catch up. That would normally mean a very long night tonight at work, but I think that I’ll do one run tonight, then the second one tomorrow or Sunday.

That’s it for today, sorry it wasn’t/hasn’t been more nature related the last few days, but I had things that I had to say. On to Saturday.

Saturday

It’s warming up a little, and the clouds are thinner, even a little sunshine from time to time. We needed the rain, and we may get more yet this weekend, which would be a good thing.

I am feeling much better! I am developing a plan to get me out of the mess that I have gotten myself into, and that’s always a good thing. It’s tough for me to admit to myself that I am in my “golden years” and now qualify to live in senior condos, but what the heck, I’ll take advantage of the lower prices and make it work to my advantage. I guess it’s my reward for having survived all the times I almost killed myself one way or another like racing dirt bikes or taking other risks.

All I need, and want, is a base of operations. Someplace to sleep and eat between outdoor adventures. Oh, and a place to store all the stuff I have for my outdoor adventures. 😉 This never being able to go anywhere because my vehicle is falling apart, and because I can’t afford to feed it all the gas it wants to consume has really gotten to me. Here it is the first of June, and I haven’t been fishing yet, haven’t visited my home away from home in the Pigeon River Country yet, and I’ve only gone kayaking once. No wonder I was down in the dumps.

I know that this lifestyle will have to continue through this summer, but at least the end is in sight!

Back from my walk, I may have been too early today, as since I have finished, the sun has come out. But, I had an enjoyable walk and even managed a few photos worth posting. I am still deciding if they should go in a separate post, or if I should include them here. I think that I’ll go in to work and do the second half of the double run while I think about that.

Since this is already too long with too many photos, I am going to do a separate post with most of today’s photos entitled Chow Time!

Here’s a couple of the others from today.

Cottontail rabbit relaxing

Fox squirrel not relaxing

And since raindrop photos always go over big.

Raindrops on a fallen leaf

And That’s all that I have time for today. I have to go back and fix the portion about Wednesday, as I’m not happy with it. Of course, you wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

7 responses

  1. Northern Narratives

    Moving is a big chore but I bet you will be happy in a new place 🙂

    June 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    • Thank you. I’m not looking forward to moving, for the umpteeth time, but I have to do what I have to do.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm

  2. Getting on in years is tough in a lot of ways as I’m discovering too, but it is your life and you’ve got to do what you think is best. I hope it all works out for you as you’ve planned. It sounds like it will. Your blog has brought a smile to my face more times than I can count, and for that I wish you all the best!

    June 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    • Thanks. I’ll keep blogging, but it won’t be as often.

      It’s not easy to admit to any one, least of all myself, that I am now a certified old fart who qualifies to move into senior housing. Growing old isn’t fun, but it beats the only other alternative that I know of. 😉

      June 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      • At 56 I know exactly what you mean.

        June 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm

  3. Another series of great photos Jerry, I enjoyed them! Your variety is fantastic, and as you said, all within one little area to enjoy! 🙂

    I really enjoy tagging along on your walks and will miss you on your down time. Keeping up with us followers on occasion would be wonderful, we want to know all is going great with you! And I hope in your condo search, you find another great little ‘backyard’ area of wildlife to share with us.

    In the meantime til end of June, keep your daily photos coming!!! 🙂

    June 10, 2012 at 8:24 am

    • Thank you Donna! I will be posting once in a while during the time I am looking for a condo, we’ll see how that goes. I have to do something though.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm