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

A day in Palmer Park

On Saturday, I went walking in Palmer Park, as it’s only a few miles from my home, and has often surprised me with the numbers of birds and other critters there.

My day started off on the wrong foot, I overslept, and got to the park much later than what I would have liked to. Right off the bat I had one of those good news, bad news moments. I spotted a new to me species of bird, but had one heck of a time getting even fair photos of it. The only time it stopped moving was when it was behind branches, or in deep shade. To show you how tough this little bugger was to photograph, in two of my better photos of it, both of its feet are off the ground, so to speak.

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

A palm warbler is what it looks like to me, another species to add to my life list!

After the high energy warbler, this hermit thrush was a piece of cake.

Hermit thrush

Hermit thrush

As was this butterfly.

Butterfly

Butterfly

And, this white-breasted nuthatch was too busy looking for lunch to pay very much attention to me.

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch found lunch

White-breasted nuthatch found lunch

I found a few tree flowers, a field sparrow, and a chickadee.

Willow flower

Willow flower

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

Elm flower?

Elm flower?

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Maple flowers

Maple flowers

Seeing the red maple flowers in front of an evergreen gave me an idea, I don’t know if it was a good one or not.

Maple flowers

Maple flowers

At several points up until this time I had thought about switching lenses to shoot a few of the sparse wildflowers I had seen, but each time the thought crossed my mind, I would be instantly surrounded by birds. Of course most of those times, the birds were very adroit at staying just out of camera range, or hidden in brush. I may be slow on the uptake, but I did eventually figure out that the birds were showing up only to distract me from the flowers.

Here’s an example, I spotted a small cluster of white violets and was about to change lenses, but then a pair of tufted titmouse arrived on the scene.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

To make sure that my attention was focused on them rather than the violets, they began to pluck the leaf shoots of a maple tree off the tree to eat.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse eating maple leaf shoots

Tufted titmouse eating maple leaf shoots

I have seen squirrels doing that, but never birds. Maple leaves must be very tasty!

One more of the titmouse.

Tufted titmouse

Tufted titmouse

But, this time I remembered the violets, and rather than chasing the birds any longer, I paused to switch lenses.

White violets

White violets

White violets

White violets

And, since I had the EF S 15-85 mm on the camera, I shot a wide view of the area of the park where I was standing.

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

A short time later, a young turkey tried to distract me from violet violets.

Turkey

Turkey

Violets

Violets

Having figured out that I was no longer going to allow the birds to distract me from shooting wildflowers, Mother Nature tried upping the cuteness factor of the distractions.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

But, I wouldn’t allow myself to be distracted any more.

Skunk cabbage flower

Skunk cabbage flower

Maple flowers

Maple flowers

"Miniscape" along a small flow of water

“Miniscape” along a small flow of water

Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

Daffodil

Not that the birds weren’t still at it.

Hermit thrush

Hermit thrush

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Now comes the boring section of this post, a few of my ramblings.

First, I haven’t written a lot about the Canon EF S 15-85 mm lens yet, even though I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now. All the photos in my post about the flood in downtown Grand Rapids were taken with that lens, along with a few from today.

What a fantastic little lens! It is very sharp, and the color rendition, saturation, and contrast is the best of the three lenses I have. It’s designed for crop sensor cameras, so if you have one of the Canon crop sensor bodies and are looking for a wide-angle zoom lens, the 15-85 mm is superb! You owe it to yourself to at least consider this lens if you are thinking of a wide-angle zoom lens. Now I just have to learn how to use it more often.

It’s been so long since I’ve had a wide-angle lens that I have forgotten how to use them effectively, I can see that it is going to change now that I have an excellent one.

Since I haven’t had multiple lenses for a while, I also have to come up with a better way to carry my camera gear. For this walk, I had my daypack to hold essentials that I always carry with me, such as water, food, and extra clothing. It also carries my tripod very nicely. In addition, I had my medium size camera bag which held the 15-85 mm and 70-200 mm lenses while walking. I also had the case that came with the Sigma 150-500 mm lens to hold it while I had one of the other lenses on the camera. I was also wearing a safari vest from Cabela’s. Too much stuff!

To change lenses, I would have to find a safe spot to set the camera and Sigma lens down, set the camera cases down, then drop my pack. Then reverse the entire process when I would begin moving again. Too much hassle!

But, what do I do without? Just after starting out, I had to shed a shirt, as the weather was much warmer than predicted, and the daypack is essential for that, along with holding all the water I drank, plus my lunch.

Oh well, I’ll come up with something, no reason to bore people to death.

I found a few trout lilies in bloom, and I’m just going to dump the entire lot in here now, as some were taken with each of my three lenses, and I defy any one to pick which lens shot which photo. It is so nice having three quality lenses!

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

As good as the two shorter lenses are, they can’t beat the Sigma for birding though, the extra reach is indispensible!

Winter wren

Winter wren

Winter wren

Winter wren

Male mallard flying over a jet

Male mallard flying over a jet

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I am going to end this one with a few photos of hyacinths that I found near the parking lot, just because I can!

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

If you live in the northern part of the country, you know what I mean when I say that it is so great to see colors again!

That’s it for a very pleasant day spent in the park. I’m going to load up my stuff and head to Aman Park today, to see if any trillium have begun to bloom, thanks for stopping by!

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16 responses

  1. plantsamazeme

    Wonderful post! You found so many birds, flowers, and animals in one place, very nice.
    I was at Aman on Friday, wildflowers blooming were hepatica, Trout Lily, Purple Cress, Bloodroot, toothwort, trillum in bud. Lots of birds were around, and a strange brown fungus? along the trail to the north bridge.
    🙂

    April 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    • I was there today, still no trillium blooming, but they’re close. I saw a strange white fungus on the trail near the north bridge, it could have been the bottom of the fungus you saw. A post with photos soon.

      April 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm

  2. Another busy and successful day. You must look like a Christmas tree with all yuor gear slung about you. I very much enjoyed the palm warbler standing on thin air.

    April 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    • Thanks Tom, but I look much more like a pack mule than a Christmas tree.

      April 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm

  3. Great shots. I have given up on camera. I am so bad I just buy some post cards.

    April 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    • Thanks Carl, buying post cards would be cheaper than a new camera and lens as well.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  4. Wonderful shots with a lot of variety. Looks like you were having fun with all the lenses despite that feeling of being a pack mule.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    • Thanks, once I get better equipped for carrying them, and a more photogenic location, I’ll really be able to have some fun.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm

  5. Have you ever seen those vests full of pockets that the pros wear? Each lense fits in it’s own pocket along with extra pockets for other things. Might be an option. I can’t guess which lens shot which trout lily, but they all look good. I like the chipmunks, chickadees and skunk cabbages too.
    I’m not sure what the mystery tree flower is, but I don’t think it’s an elm. My gut says ash, but I’m not sure. The white violets are great-I’ve never seen pure white ones before.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    • Thanks Allen, I’ve seen vests in the past, I thought that my safari vest would work, but it didn’t. I liked all the pockets for holding lens caps, glasses, the camera manual, etc., but the lenses didn’t fit. I have the military surplus belt and suspenders on order, I think that I’ll be able to make them work.

      I really need to meet some one with an industrial sewing machine and money, and start a company making outdoor gear. I find most of it lacking in one way or another, with the exception of fly fishing vests, they are well suited to their purpose.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

  6. Spring has officially arrived ! Congratulations ! I love enjoying the park with you today. I’ve been missing getting out there. As to packing the whole ensemble, good luck with that. I’ve learned to travel lighter and work with what I have with me. I’ve actually taken some nice flower shots with the 500mm. I just have to be far away.

    April 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    • Thanks, there’s snow in the forecast for later this week, Bah Humbug! The hyacinths were shot with the Sigma 500, it does OK, but I don’t think mine focuses as close as the specs say it should. The specs say 7 feet, but I have trouble getting it to focus on anything less than 10 feet away. Besides, that beast weighs a ton, as you probably know, so since I more or less have to use it for birds, I’ll switch to the much lighter lenses I have for flowers. 😉

      April 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

  7. So much here! I love those white violets – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen white violets. The deer, the Trout lily, the chipmunk, and more, all very nice – you obviously were completely engrossed. Ah, spring!

    April 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    • Thank you, it was about a typical day, I just stayed out longer than I usually do because of the great weather.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

  8. Your photos are amazing. They are beautiful and enjoyable.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    • Thank you, I hope to improve my skills even more over the coming months.

      April 29, 2013 at 12:24 am