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

But it’s April

I went for my walk on Saturday, trying to dodge the snow squalls. That didn’t work well, the snow hunted me down like a dog!

Of course I had my camera with me, despite the weather, and I even saw a few things that I thought about photographing. For example, I saw snow pellets building up on some green moss, I thought about taking a photo, but this is April. I’m tired of shooting snow in any form, anywhere. In the fall, fresh white snow on green moss is a favorite subject for me to photograph, but I’m over it now.

I saw some chickadees fairly close to me, and thought about shooting them despite the miserable conditions, but this is April. I’m tired of shooting chickadees in miserable conditions, even as much as I love chickadees. Photographing chickadees in the dead of winter when there are few other birds around has made for some memorable times, but I’m over it til next winter.

I saw some robins with their heads hunched down, and their chest feathers fluffed up to ward off the cold wind, but it’s April.

I think you catch my drift. Luckily, the snow never accumulated enough today to drift, not that the wind wouldn’t have been quite capable of doing so.

I did see a towhee in the thick brush, I would have gone in after it, but after 5 inches of rain the past 5 days, the area where I saw the towhee was flooded, and I didn’t feel like getting my feet wet as cold as it was.

Before I complain too about the weather, after the hot spring and drought last year, we could use a cold, soggy spring just like we’re getting. I know that all this precipitation is a good thing, especially as low as the water levels of the Great Lakes are. But I have a brand new camera and lenses I want to try out!

I have already seen that the new stuff is vastly superior to my old Nikon camera and lens under adverse conditions, now I’d like to see what it can do with some sunshine! That’s not going to happen for a while, I’m afraid. Here’s what one of our local meteorologists posted on his blog on Saturday.

“Model update:  The European has .07″ of a mix today and then it rains in every six hour period from Monday midday through early Friday, when it changes to a little wet snow before it ends.  It has a total of 2.84″.   The GFS has about .05″ during the day today, .04″ Sunday am, .30″ Monday night, .03″ Tue. night, then 1.70″ from Thurs. into Friday, when it also ends with a few snow showers.  The GFS has the temperature down to 27 next Friday night.”

I’m not liking that “rains in every six hour period” for most of the upcoming week. But, I keep telling myself we need the rain, and that it is a good thing.

I did shoot a few photos today, just to move my fingers so that they didn’t freeze. I know that the economy has been bad, and that a few people have lost their shirt, but I thought that was a figure of speech, not to be taken literally.

Some one lost his shirt

Some one lost his shirt

Then I shot a grackle, as I only have one photo in the post in the My Photo Life List on common grackles.

Male common grackle

Male common grackle

Not great, I probably won’t use it.

I found a bulb that some one had discarded, but it’s sprouting anyway, at least there was a sign of green!

Sprouting bulb

Sprouting bulb

I walked up on a male mallard hiding in the woods, thinking it was a safe place to sleep.

Male mallard

Male mallard

Birds are so cute when they think that they’re hiding….

Male mallard "hiding"

Male mallard “hiding”

…they’re like little kids, if they can’t see you, they think that you can’t see them, but I could, at least most of him, and he figured that out…

Male mallard

Male mallard

The Canon 60D certainly performs well in low light, as do both the Sigma 150-500 mm and the Canon 70-200 mm lenses. With either lens, the auto-focus is fast and accurate, and they both do very well picking the birds out of the brush. But, I’ve already proven that, I want to take some shots out in the open with some sun! I already said that, didn’t I?

I finished my walk, and as I was sorting through those photos, I saw sunlight flooding my apartment! I switched from the 70-200 lens to the Sigma, threw on a coat, and headed for the pond in the apartment complex, hoping to see what the camera and lens could do with light, even if it would be more mallard shots.

My apartment is less than 100 yards from the pond, and I’ll bet that you can guess what happened. The small hole in the clouds closed back up before I made it to the pond.

Blue sky! the first in a week

Blue sky! the first in a week

I shot a couple of photos anyway, just because I had made the effort to get to the pond. I had already walked over 6 miles, and really wanted to stretch my legs out and relax, the things I’ll do for so-so photos.


Mallards preening


Mallards preening


Northern cardinal


Northern cardinal

Those were shot with the Sigma 150-500 mm, with ISO settings ranging from 1000 to 1600. Wow! Not great photos, but so much better than my old stuff! Are you sick of hearing that yet?

Are you sick of my posting everyday for the My Photo Life List project?

I am happy to say that I am about to reach the magic number of 88 posts towards that project, representing 88 species of birds.

What’s so magical about the number 88? When I hit that, it means that I am 1/4 of the way done with that project, considering that there are 350 species of birds on the Audubon list that I’m working from. I think that it is a true milestone of sorts. In just four months, I will have posted photos of 1/4 of the species of birds regularly seen in the State of Michigan. Not all the photos are great ones, but I’m working on that.

I do plan on this project being a lifelong effort, but it just didn’t seem right to have just a few species done. But now that I’m about to have a sizable chunk of them done, I’ll be able to relax and take my time on the rest.

Once I hit 88, I’ll stop posting those everyday, for one thing, I’m running out of photos, finally! Well, I could search back through my archives, but I’m not going to do that, especially since I now have better photo gear.

Then I’ll get back to blogging the way that I used to, and throw in a bird post every now and then when I get very good photos of a species that I haven’t already done. I’ll also be updating the posts that I have already finished with more and/or better photos.

So hang in there, some time in the next few days, the daily bird posts will end.

In fact, I have just completed the draft for species number 88, I have now made it a quarter of the way through the list!!!!!!!!!! It may seem strange to every one else, but I feel like I have made real progress at something very worthwhile and interesting, not to mention difficult.

One more thing, my friend Jan has her blog up and running now, with some fantastic wood duck photos! Here’s the link..

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


8 responses

  1. Sorry about your lousy weather. The cardinals shots were beautiful.

    April 14, 2013 at 3:50 am

    • Thank you, I hope to get better photos of cardinals soon.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

  2. Too bad about the weather. We’re looking showery all week too, according to the local weather guy. There was one specific shot I wanted to get while the sun was shining yesterday and every time I went to get it, clouds rolled in, so I know how you feel. I never did get that shot and will try again today. I like what I’m seeing from the new camera / lens. Congrats on reaching a milestone-88 birds are a lot! I visited Jan’s blog and put in in my favorites, so I’ll be a regular.

    April 14, 2013 at 7:05 am

    • Thanks, I wish you luck on your quest today. I hope to be able to do a bird a week from now on, but I’m not going to push it as I have been doing. The photos Jan has been getting of some species of ducks that are ordinarily very hard to approach have been amazing. It’s almost enough to get me to start carrying some cracked corn with me. Ordinarily, I would be opposed to feeding wildlife, but since the swans can’t leave the lake, and require supplemental feeding anyway, I don’t have a problem with what she’s doing.

      April 14, 2013 at 8:56 am

  3. I love sharing your day and your attempts to keep shooting regardless of weather obstacles. Your walkabout was fun ! For your friends blog – wood ducks? It’s not fair !! I never get to see a wood duck. Here’s hoping the weather improves and the birds are thick for you.

    April 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    • I started shooting in a blizzard this morning, even the Canon and Sigma couldn’t handle that. But, then the sun came out. Of course all the good birds were around during the blizzard.

      Jan has some really good shots of wood ducks, and I mean really good!

      April 14, 2013 at 10:09 pm

  4. Still impressed there is so much great birding to be had in your ‘hood (or woods, rather!)

    April 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    • Thanks, some of the waterfowl photos have been taken at Muskegon, about 45 miles from me. Almost all the songbirds and some of the waterfowl have been shot within walking distance of where I live.

      April 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm