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

My week, the short version

Monday

It’s still hot and humid, I don’t like days that start out like this. But, there’s little I can do about it. I have many things to do this week in preparation for my trip this coming weekend, so my daily entries will probably be on the short side. To make matters worse, I added to my work load at home in ways that would bore you, so I won’t list them, but they will limit my time for blogging this week.

After my post from Muskegon yesterday, I was feeling quite proud of my “haul” as far as new species was concerned. Then, I get home, check the Muskegon County Nature Club’s website, and see all the species that I missed. They did a “Big Day” species count on Friday, and came up with 125 species on that day alone.

Oh well, no need to get greedy, I did OK, and if I continue to post two species per week as I have been doing, I have enough queued up to last three months as it stands right now. I’m sure that I am now well over one-third of the way through my list, I may get half way through it by the end of the year with any luck at all.

So with that said, it’s time to face the muggy weather and get my walk in for the day.

It seems that I forgot three from yesterday that I meant to post, so here they are.

Ferns unfurling

Ferns unfurling

Ferns unfurling

Ferns unfurling

Pillsbury doughboy fungus

Pillsbury doughboy fungus

OK, for today, it’s hard not to whine about the heat and humidity, but I’ll try, at least there was a breeze at times today. I’m convinced that birds dislike the heat almost as much as I do, or close to it. It was much quieter today, part of that may be due to the season, and that most of the males have found mates, but I don’t think so. Males will mate anytime that they find a willing female. 😉

I shot a couple of flower photos, they’re OK, but I can do better, so I’m not posting them today. I did find a blue jay that posed for me.

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

Blue jay

I ignored all the male Baltimore orioles today, and concentrated on the females. The females of most species are harder to find and photograph for many reasons. One, they tend to be more drab in color than the males. They tend to stay hidden more, as there’s no need for them to perch out in the open and sing the way that males do, and I for one often find birds by following their song. And finally, it’s typically the females that sit on the nest to incubate the eggs, so there’s a period of time when they are completely inactive, and out of sight. So here’s the female oriole from today.

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

Female Baltimore oriole

I tried the Sigma out as a macro lens again, for this dragonfly.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Not bad.

From my bad shots too good to delete series, here’s a male rose breasted grosbeak.

male rose breasted grosbeak

male rose breasted grosbeak

A robin, since I haven’t posted one in a while.

American robin

American robin

And finally, nightmares to those who cherish a perfect lawn.

Dandelion crop ready to spread

Dandelion crop ready to spread

That’s it for today, Mondays are the day that I visit my mom in the nursing home, on top of everything else I have to do this week.

Tuesday

Still hot and humid. We had a very strong thunderstorm move through the area yesterday afternoon, 3/4 of an inch of rain in ten minutes, a few limbs blown down, and some urban street flooding. After visiting my mom, I had to take a circuitous route from the nursing home to work to avoid large areas of standing water with flooded cars stuck in them.

More storms moved through the area overnight, adding to the humidity, but I slept through them nicely, as they did provide a temporary cool down.

The good news is that the weekend is looking great for my trip up north, there may even be a light frost Saturday morning to hold the bugs down. Typing that reminded me, I had better check the weather forecast for the region I am visiting so that I know what to take with me. Looks like sleeping bag weather at night, light jacket during the day, with sunshine, just about perfect!

So much to say today, and so little time to say it, so I guess I’d better get down with the get down.

Clouds and a breeze helped to make my walk today more pleasant than I expected as far as weather, but then people had to go and get on my nerves. I was going to do a rant about the people who I swear go out of their way to interfere with my attempts at photography, but I don’t have time for that now. Besides, some one else got on my nerves even more.

A pleasant enough, well-meaning woman stuck up a conversation with me while I was taking a break, which was OK at first. But, soon she was pumping me for information about my personal life, then telling me that I’m living my life all wrong, and offering her opinions as to how I should live. What is it about human beings that most of them think that every one should live exactly as they do? And why do they think that it’s OK for them to tell a complete stranger how to live his life?

I know that I’m weird, well outside the mainstream, but hey, I like it here, it suits me just fine. I don’t go around telling any one else that they should live like I do, because I know that 999,999 out of a million would hate the way that I live. I prefer not to be a sheeple that follows the crowd and every fad that comes along to begin with. And, I’m of the firm belief that most people would be much happier if they stopped trying to follow the crowd, and followed what is in their heart instead.

You know, I might just be considered an old curmudgeon, however, I’ve been this way my entire life more or less, my attempts to fit into the stereotypical human world have never gone well. I’ve tried to make a deal with the world, you can all live your life as you want, please leave me alone to live as I would like to.

OK, so I did take a few photos, nothing special, mostly flowers and a few birds. So here they are all at once!

Wild phlox?

Wild phlox?

Flowering bush

Flowering bush

Turkey

Turkey

Honeysuckle and lilacs

Honeysuckle and lilacs

???

???

Wild geraniums??

Wild geraniums??

Wild phlox?

Wild phlox?

Pine flower

Pine flower

Male Baltimore oriole

Male Baltimore oriole

Male Baltimore oriole in flight

Male Baltimore oriole in flight

Male Baltimore oriole in flight

Male Baltimore oriole in flight

Male Baltimore oriole

Male Baltimore oriole

Female eastern bluebird

Female eastern bluebird

Male eastern bluebird

Male eastern bluebird

Flowering tree

Flowering tree

Well, that’s it for the day, as the lecture on how I should live my life that I received while walking has put me behind schedule. In fact, the weather forecast is for rain and storms tomorrow morning, if that holds true, I think that I will take a rare break for a day to complete the many tasks I have left to do this week.

Wednesday

I am going to wimp out today, I can’t remember the last time that I didn’t go for a walk, probably last fall while I was moving. There’s been rain off and on this morning, so it has cooled off a little, but it’s very muggy and uncomfortable. The radar shows a solid mass of rain heading my way that will arrive while I’m out, so I am going to use that as an excuse to stay home at least for now, and do some things that I have to get done. If things go better than expected, I may get in a shorter walk later, we’ll see.

Well, things went better than expected, and I got a shorter version of my daily walk in today, in a light rain. With the rain, I took very few photos, I may as well post the three that I saved now and get it over with.

Wild geranium?

Wild geranium?

Grey catbird singing in the rain

Grey catbird singing in the rain

Grey catbird singing in the rain

Grey catbird singing in the rain

You may be able to tell from the leaves in the first shot of the catbird that it was also a windy day.

I took the 70-200 L series with me since it was raining, and that reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to say about it. In a recent post, I said that the auto-focus of that lens had started performing much better, and that I had no idea why. I’m not sure if this would have anything to do with it, but when I was going through the camera manual and settings, the auto-focus for the camera was set to operate in quick focus mode with the LCD display closed, and live view with the display open. Since I never open the display or use the live view mode, I changed the setting to the quick focus mode only, and that’s about the same time that the L series lens perked up so much. In theory, I can’t see how that would make a difference, but that’s the only explanation that I can come up with as a reason for the improved performance of that lens. I guess that it pays to check every setting that there is to set.

Overall, it was a very good day, because of the rain. I had the trail and park to myself, no one to lecture me on my misguided ways, and lots of birds and flowers, even if few photos were taken.

There was a red-winged blackbird perched on a fence post very close to me, I stood there for a few seconds to see if he was going to fly away, he didn’t. That is, until I pulled the camera out from under my rain jacket, then he took off, and kept on going as if he were going to travel quite a way. As soon as I slipped the camera back under my rain jacket, the blackbird turned around, and not only flew all the way back, but dive bombed me as well, then went off into the distance. I guess that he really doesn’t like the idea of having his picture taken!

That’s it for today.

Thursday

Much cooler, with moderate rain falling as I’m drinking my coffee this morning. It looks as though the rain will let up at least a little a bit later on, so I’ll do some packing before heading out for my walk today.

The weather forecast for this weekend is looking perfect! Cool and sunny! There’s also a full moon this weekend, so don’t be surprised if I come back with a few photos of the moon rising over Lake Huron in the evening, maybe even a sunrise over the lake as well.

After all the money I have spent on camera equipment this past month, I really shouldn’t be spending the money on a trip like this, but my sanity requires it. After staying home all last summer trying to save for a condo, I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever that needs to be cured.

As for today, it rained the entire time I was out there, so only three photos. I would have shot a few more, but the wind played havoc with my other attempts. I stood in one spot for ten minutes waiting for a break in the wind to get a photo that I really wanted, it never happened. So here’s what I did come up with.

Hobblebush?

Hobblebush?

Dandelion

Dandelion

Flowering tree

Flowering tree

Despite the rain and wind, I enjoyed my walk today a great deal, as because of the wind and rain, there was no one else around, just me, the birds, flowers, and a few other critters as well.

Friday

An absolutely beautiful late spring day! It’s a shame that I still have so much to do in preparation for my trip this weekend, as I will have to be quick about completing my walk, when I know that I would love to spend the entire day outside. The good news is that the entire weekend is going to be much the same!

After the week that I’ve had, both at home and at work, I think that my trip will involve a lot less driving and taking in the tourist sites, and a lot more time spent wandering the Lake Huron shoreline. But, I’ll play it by ear, one of the great things about doing these things alone is that I get to do what I feel like when I feel like it. Since I have two weeks of vacation time this year, there’s no need for me to fight the crowds of a holiday weekend at the more popular places, I can do that on the weekdays during my vacation(s). Also, I’d rather not waste this weekend driving the entire time.

Since I’ve changed my mind about my plans, I’m going to take my tent, and set-up a camp near Alpena, Michigan. I’ll add a few more lighthouses to my collection, and visit both Thompson’s Harbor and Negwegon State Parks, which are two of Michigan’s least developed state parks. I think that it will more than fill my weekend, and still leave me wanting more, in fact, I’m sure of that. So, I’d better get off my butt and get going today, so that I can get an early start tomorrow.

Well, I started out trying to photograph everything that caught my eye, but then I reminded myself that I didn’t have time for that. I will throw in a couple from early on.

Wild phlox

Wild phlox

Flowing water

Flowing water

Dandelions

Dandelions

Despite the fact that there were many people in the park today, the birds were out, and every one left me to myself. I resisted the urge to shoot more photos of the same species that I have been getting. But, I spotted this bird, and had to get a photo. I’ve seen it, or others of the same species, in the same small area of the park for the last week, but never got a photo until today.

Unidentified flitting object

Unidentified flitting object

Unidentified flitting object

Unidentified flitting object

Unidentified flitting object

Unidentified flitting object

I would have thought that a plain brown bird the size of a small sparrow would be easy to ID, but a quick check online has me stumped for now. I checked the sparrows and finches on All About Birds, but I couldn’t find a match. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend looking though, it could be a female of a species, but I was looking for photos of a bird with a plain brown face and black bill, and maybe the males have color streaks on their faces. I’ll save the photos and work on the ID next week when I have time.

My other shots were taken while taking a break, a couple of a barn swallow in flight.

Barn swallow in flight

Barn swallow in flight

Barn swallow in flight

Barn swallow in flight

That’s it for today, and for the week. I have a couple of loads of laundry to do, plus pack some of the stuff in my Forester today, to get an early start tomorrow. See you all when I get back, thanks for stopping by!

Advertisements

16 responses

  1. The Tuesday shot of the tiny white bell-like flowers (???) are definitely Lily of the Valley… a most favorite of mine. The scent is utterly heavenly.

    May 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    • Thank you, that explains what I’ve been enjoying as far as scent as I walk that stretch of trail each day.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:29 am

  2. I loved the blue jays and flowing water most in a great collection of shots. I’m glad that you didn’t start to tell the inquisitive lady how to live her life.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    • Thanks Tom. You gave me an idea, the next time some one starts meddling in my life, maybe I should return the “favor”, and maybe they won’t stick around so long. 😉

      May 25, 2013 at 1:17 am

  3. I think people who follow their own path and live a solitary life scare those who don’t. I’m the same way and I hear a lot about what I “should” do. I let it go in one ear and right out the other.
    I think your unknown shrub might be a hobblebush or it could be another type of viburnum. There are several that have similar flowers.
    Identifying small brown birds sounds as bad as identifying small yellow flowers.There are many that look alike, so it can be difficult.
    Have fun!

    May 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    • Thanks Allen, on all counts. I’m used to lectures from people I know, but when complete strangers start telling me that every aspect of how I live is wrong, it grates on me, probably because I would never even consider giving a complete stranger advice.

      I hope to get better photos of the bush next week when I get back.

      That brown bird shouldn’t be that tough to ID, because it is so plain. Most sparrows have streaks, white stripes, yellow stripes, something to go by, this one is solid brown, just different shades of brown.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:23 am

  4. 125 species in one day? That’s crazy ! And I thought 86 was crazy for me this past Sunday. It really was a hot and humid week, and now we’re cold again. Go figure. As to that lady, I hope you told her to get lost.
    Great captures on your walkabouts Jerry. Spring has truly sprung.

    May 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    • Thanks Emily. I don’t know how people keep count of the species they see. I’m too busy spotting and trying to photograph them all, I do try to be a “good” birder and keep count, but I lose track. I need a stenographer with me to take notes as I call out the species as I ID them. But then, the stenographer would probably drive me crazy by sticking their nose into my life, and I’m too darned polite to tell people to get lost, unless I know them, and mean that in a good way.

      May 25, 2013 at 1:27 am

  5. love the dude on the fence

    May 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    • Thank you!

      May 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

  6. LOVE the bluejay captures, Jerry! A bird that has still eluded me!

    May 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    • Thanks Donna, they had me as well, in so far as getting a good photo of them, now they’re posing for me.

      May 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm

  7. Anonymous

    thanks for sharing your beautiful photography and your narrative is very informative with some lighthearted humor thrown in – you could write a book! I am brand new to birding, just started this spring, but I have a pair of indigo buntings that visit my feeder and the little brown bird looks a lot like the female of the pair

    May 28, 2013 at 8:13 am

    • Thanks, you’re lucky to have the buntings living near you, I love their song!

      May 28, 2013 at 8:46 am

      • Sue

        You’re right, I love hearing his song and the other day the bunting and a male cardinal were together at the feeder and what a lovely photo that would have made with the bright blue and red, but alas, I am not a photographer. Do you think your “unidentified flitting object” could be a female bunting?

        May 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      • Could be, but I think that I would see and hear a male around if it was.

        May 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm