My week, Deer me!
Well, here we go again, another week starting out. After heavy rains overnight, it was cloudy, cool, and breezy today, very nice in fact, for me. I went to Palmer Park, it’s less than five miles from home, so I didn’t burn very much gas getting there, which is a good thing, since the price of gas skyrocketed this weekend.
I was up and to the park early, I don’t know if it was because I was early, the weather, or what, but for the first time as far as I can remember, I walked the entire length of the boardwalk and back without seeing a single person. It could be because the boardwalk is closed, or so the signs say, but I’ve walked it before when it’s been closed and been nearly trampled by the traffic, even in winter.
Because of the heavy rains this week, Buck Creek was still up over the top of its banks in places this morning, but nothing like earlier this year.
I would have thought that I had hit it at just the right time for birding, but I saw and heard very few birds. In fact, other than a couple of mallard photos that I took for practice, I didn’t shoot a single bird today. Because the heavy rains overnight beat most of the flowers to death, I shot very few of those, either.
So, what did I photograph? A female snapping turtle laying her eggs for one thing.
Is that a mosquito that I see on the top of her head just above her nostrils?
It sure looks like a mosquito full of blood to me, I didn’t think that mosquitoes fed on the blood of cold-blooded animals, but I guess they do, my photos don’t lie!
From the looks of the ground in that area, there had been several other turtles laying eggs there as well.
There were a few deer to photograph as well.
The doe was standing up, that’s how tall the grass was! For a good part of my walk I was trying to figure out how to photograph the lush, verdant growth everywhere, without the lush, verdant growth in the foreground obscuring all the lush, verdant growth in the background. I never did find the right place or angle, so I gave up and shot these two ferns as the best example I could come up with.
It looked like a jungle there in the park today. I’ve never seen so much green in my life, this wet spring has the plants enjoying the weather, that’s for sure! So have these mushrooms that I found growing in the darkest part of the woods.
I should have gotten a better close-up of those mushrooms, I’m surprised that the one I’ve posted came out as well as it did. They were in the most dense part of the woods, it was extremely dark there. I would have switched lenses, but the wind was causing the raindrops left on the leaves of the trees to fall like rain in that spot, and I don’t want water in my new camera.
So, all in all it was a nice day for a long walk, even if the day was devoid of any bird photos. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few around to sing for me, there were plenty of them singing, but mostly the most common species like robins and catbirds. I did enjoy walking through the jungle.
Still pleasantly cool, but with abundant sunshine, a magnificent day looking out of my window. I’ve been busy finishing up the last post from the Memorial Day weekend, and doing other mundane things around the apartment before going out for my walk this morning.
I’m back. In some ways, it was a ho-hum kind of day, not many photo ops, but as far as the weather, it was about as close to perfect as it gets. Blue skies, pleasant temps, light breeze, and the plant life is going above and beyond this year when it comes to greening up! June in Michigan is always beautiful if you love vivid green foliage, but because of all the rain this spring, the greens seem to be even more vivid. I may just have to go out and shoot just green for a day.
All that lush green growth is making bird photos more difficult, but I managed a few, and other than the cedar waxwing, none of these were cropped at all.
The kingbird had an eye to the sky, wondering if all the white stuff in the air was snow.
The shot of the cedar waxwing is pretty bad, the only reason I shot it is because it had a beak full of twigs which I assume it was going to use to build a nest. I’ll have to remember to keep an eye out for the waxwings in that area, I hope that they do nest here.
My other shots of the day were these two…
I’m still having trouble coming to grips with the photos that I am routinely deleting these days. Some are shots that I would have killed for when using the Nikon. Take the song sparrow as an example, I shot several photos of it, that all turned out very well, but then I shot the ones that I posted from a few steps closer, with the bird nearly filling the viewfinder. (I’m still working on what 96% comes out looking like in the final photo.) I didn’t even bother to look at the first batch full size before deleting them, there was no reason to keep them, even though I know that they were far better than my earlier shots of that species taken with the Nikon.
For the record, all the bird shots were taken with zero exposure compensation, I think that all of them other than the grosbeak and waxwing would have been better at -1/3. In fact, I would set my camera to -1/3 and leave it there even for birds, but the grosbeak and the waxwing could have used a bump up. The problem was that neither of them would sit still long enough for me to do so. The yellow goat’s beard was shot at -2/3, as yellow is just as bad or worse than white as far as over exposure, at least with my camera.
The butterfly on the daisy fooled me, I knew that the white of the daisy would be too bright, but the butterfly looked so dark in the viewfinder against the daisy that I thought no compensation would work best. However, the butterfly is mostly orange, which is a “warm” color, so I should have gone done at least 1/3 stop, probably 2/3 of a stop would have been even better.
That’s it for today, time to get ready to visit my mom, then raise heck at work tonight. The manager of the Lansing branch has been texting me by mistake for the last month, and I have to pay for those texts.
Another cool to most people but perfect for me start to the day, along with a lot of sunshine for now. The forecast for the week had been mostly dry, now it has changed completely to one of off and on showers every day for the next week. At least the temperatures are predicted to remain pleasant, so that’s OK.
This could be a challenging week for me, I was jarred out of bed early this morning by the sound of broken asphalt being dumped into the back of a truck. They’re tearing up the tennis courts here at the apartment complex, right across the street from my bedroom. In a testament to my ability to sleep through almost anything, I didn’t hear the asphalt being broken up, or the equipment used to do the breaking. I don’t know if they are going to replace the tennis courts, which were in bad shape, or just remove them, doesn’t matter to me, so I didn’t inquire.
On a somewhat related note, my “landlady” announced yesterday that she’s running for the US Senate seat here in Michigan. She has my vote, and it has nothing to do with the apartment I rent. She was the county clerk for several terms, then was the Michigan Secretary of State for several terms, but I won’t bother you with my political views, at least not this time. 🙂
Speaking of time, I want to say something about the way that hardcore joggers and cyclists keep an eye on the time as they do their thing as if it were a matter of life or death, but I won’t, it’s time for my walk.
Today was a day to play.
Trying to see how close I could get. I also tried more shots of a kingbird plucking insects out of the air, but I failed miserably. I did however learn that kingbirds eat dragonflies.
I also got close enough to a field sparrow for a couple of shots of it.
I’m seeing about the same birds everyday now, so I won’t bore you with more so-so photos of Baltimore orioles and grosbeaks, but chasing them gave me something to do.
I am re-shooting the flowers that I promised last week using the correct lens this time, and getting the exposure correct for each flower. Once I have enough good ones for a post of just the flowers, I’ll post those photos.
It was while I was shooting flowers with the 15-85 mm lens on the camera, and getting down on my hands and knees to get the right angle, that I saw a patch of reddish-brown something or other on the other side of the fence from where I was, not more than four feet from me. Then, I saw a tiny, shiny, black hoof, and knew that what I was seeing was a very young fawn. I stood back up, too quickly, and the fawn moved off, but not so far as to make shots with the short lens worthless.
My camera was set to -2/3 for the flowers, and the first shot is at that same setting, as I didn’t know how long the fawn would linger, but she and I amazed me, as I remembered that and dialed up the right exposure for the other photos. If only I hadn’t moved so fast, the lighting would have been much better.
Whitetail fawns are unbelievably good at hiding, like I said, I was less than four feet from it when I noticed it, and if I hadn’t been photographing a flower there, I would never have seen her at all.
Later, I did see the pair of cedar waxwings in the same area as yesterday, so I’m hoping that they are building a nest there.
Since I was rudely awakened this morning, I think that it’s time for a nap before work.
The pleasant weather continues, but with a few more clouds today, and a chance of rain forever, or at least the eight days that the weather forecast goes out. 😉
The clouds quickly gave way to nice, partly cloudy sunshine, with a nice breeze today. The better the weather is, the more people who there are in the park, and the fewer birds there are for me to photograph. I don’t know why my walk today took so long to complete, there weren’t very many things to photograph, maybe that’s why, I spent too much time trying to find things to shoot. Other than a couple of photos of flowers, I shot three birds. One, a kingbird on a mission to build a nest.
A male house finch singing to his mate.
And my extreme close-up of the day, a juvenile American robin.
This is one of those rare days when I don’t have much to prattle on about. Well, I do, I could rant about the way that the oil companies are ripping us off, now more so than usual. Oil reserves are at an 80 year high, the price of crude is steady at just under $100 a barrel, and OPEC just announced that they were making no changes in output. Yet, the price of gas is skyrocketing. Why? Because the oil companies can jack the prices up, because we allow them to rip us off.
If I explained how that happens, then I would go on to rant about the way that people get fat eating fast food, then complain that the fast food industry is making them fat. I can even combine those two threads, as I just saw a Facebook post that said the following…
“So you drove to the gym?
To walk on a treadmill?”
There are times when I feel like Mr. Spock from Star Trek, humans are so illogical! Maybe, maybe not, but it is so much easier to blame some one else for what we have done to ourselves. It’s the fast food industry’s fault that we get fat. It’s the oil company’s fault that we continue to waste gas.
Enough of that, or I’ll really go off on a rant.
Cloudy, cool, with a steady light rain today, I’ll bet that I don’t see too many other people in the park. Oh, there it is, I swore that I had started working on today this morning before my walk, but thought that WordPress had lost it.
Anyway, I have been in a funk of late, the last few weeks in fact. I was hoping that the trip up north over Memorial Day weekend would cure that, if anything, it has made things worse. I can’t even put my finger on what is causing my funk, although I have some suspicions, which I prefer not to share until I do sort things out.
I’m sure that the funk had at least a little to do with my running out of gas last weekend, and why I haven’t put much effort into my blog or photography this week.
I woke up feeling rather nostalgic for the “good old days”, but thinking back, the good old days weren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. The thought occurred to me that one of my problems is that I don’t participate in the mindless entertainment of television or movies. There’s a lot to be said for plopping down in a chair, turning on the TV, and letting your brain turn to mush.
Anyway, with the rain today, I took just the medium lens with me, and it worked well enough for the few photos that I attempted. I didn’t attempt many. At the corner of my apartment complex, there are several acres of vacant land, I think there used to be an old farm-house and barn there from the ruins. There are also many flowers there, both cultivated and wild, I’m sure that the cultivated ones are left from when the farm-house stood there. I was going to shoot them in the rain, but for some reason, I was really shaky today. Too much coffee or something. But with the dark dreary conditions, and my being shaky, I didn’t bother trying any photos then.
I did see what I thought was a new species of warbler for me, right out in the open, right next to me, but by the time I got the camera out from under my rain jacket, the warbler had disappeared into the brush. I chased it for a short time, but soon gave up. After checking the ID, it’s a Nashville warbler, so it wasn’t a new species after all.
When I reached the picnic shelter in the park, I sat for some time just to think. The urge is for me to make wholesale changes in my life, but I have learned that I often jump from the frying pan into the fire when I do that, so I’m better off slowing down, and thinking things out better first. That’s not going to happen overnight, and this funk will pass before then, I may want things to change now, but that’s not going to happen. There are times when getting older and wiser can be a bitch.
On my way back home, the rain let up, and the sun even began breaking through the clouds. So here’s a couple of photos that I took.
I am so bad at identifying wildflowers, I know that I have seen that yellow one in at least half a dozen blogs that I follow, but the correct name escapes me, it usually does when it comes to white or yellow ones.
With gas prices in Michigan the third highest of the 50 states in the US, I’ll be sticking close to home this weekend. There are a couple of smaller parks connected by a trail just to the east of me. I have been there once in the past, I think that it’s time for a return visit.
I’m sure glad that I bought my Subaru Forester last fall, what with gas prices approaching record levels for this area. I filled the tank of my Forester up in Grayling, Michigan on my way home from up north on Memorial Day, 170 miles from here. I’ve driven back and forth to work for two weeks, and I still have just over a quarter of a tank left, I may eek out a third week, but that would be pushing it.
With my old Ford Explorer, I thought that I was doing good to make it past Grayling on one tank, and it had a larger tank than the Forester. Next thing you know, the oil companies will be charging me an access fee for using so little gas, just as the electric utility does.
The bill for my electrical usage for May came to $14, with the access fee, the total bill was boosted to $21. I even splurged and used the dishwasher twice last month.
The weather outside looks absolutely delightful, so I’m going to get off my butt and get out there!
Well, it was absolutely delightful as far as the weather, in fact, this has been the nicest week this year so far. The forecast for next week is much the same, so I doubt if you’ll hear any complaints from me on that subject.
I have put my finger on at least part of the reason for my funk of late, and in part, it has to do with my new camera and lenses. The photos that I’m taking now are so much better than what I was able to get with the Nikon as far as sharpness and exposure, but my photos of late have been of rather common, even mundane subjects. I mean, how many shots of red-winged blackbirds do I need, even if they have a beak full of bugs?
I want spectacular, and I want it now! I know that the photo equipment I have now is capable of spectacular, even with me behind the camera. A few of the shots that I got up north over the Memorial Day weekend were very close to being on the border of spectacular, such as this one.
However, such shots aren’t possible with the subjects that I see on a daily basis while walking around home. I want to go to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and shoot the lower falls there again. I want to shoot Old Faithful, the hot springs, the mud pots, the bison, the elk, and the grizzly bears again. Heck, I just want to see those things again!
But, that won’t happen this year. Well, it could, but I’d end up flat broke and busted, and as much as I want to go out west again, I’d better be wise and not do it until I can really afford to. Being a responsible adult can be a bitch at times.
I did shoot a series of photos of a red-tailed hawk in flight, but the ones around here refuse to cooperate with me at all. They will not fly north of the park, they stay to the south, which means that I am always shooting into the sun when I do try to photograph them. Here’s the best of a bad lot.
I got a little bit of the cottonwood “snow” in that one as well. The photos of the hawk may not have come out the way I wanted, but I learned a little more about the settings I need to use with my new gear to get a really good photo when the right opportunity arises. That was the only reason that I shot the series of photos that I did today, for practice and to fine tune what settings I’ll need to use in the future. I have a tendency to repeat myself, don’t I?
Well, that’s it for today.
The run of near perfect weather continues, but I slept in this morning and I’m running late. Stupid allergies! For the past two weeks, as I near the Michigan/Indiana border while driving for work, I’ve had sneezing attacks, and have felt my allergies kicking in. By the time I made it home at night, they had more or less gone away. Now, whatever was blooming down there must be blooming here from the way I feel this morning. Oh well, no time for more whining, time to eat breakfast, stop at the bank, then hit the parks and trails off to the east.
I’m back, I went to walk the Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail, hit Paris Park, and then the East Paris Nature preserve, both of which are supposedly on the trail. First of all, the online maps are wrong, but close enough to get me to where I wanted to go. I found a parking lot not on the maps, since the one on the map doesn’t exist, and mine was the only vehicle there, which I thought was a good sign.
I walked the section of trail between 60th and 52nd street, it’s supposed to go all the way to 44th street, but I didn’t find that section. In case you haven’t figured it out already, I was not impressed. The Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail is one of the rails to trails type of trails, straight and flat, and to top it off, busy. It’s a pleasant enough walk if that’s all you’re interested in doing, here’s a photo to give you an idea.
No, you haven’t developed a case of tunnel vision, that’s what the majority of the section of trail that I walked today looked like. I heard quite a few birds, seeing them through the thick growth was another matter. I’m sure that the constant parade of people walking, jogging, or cycling the trail didn’t help either. But, I did find one purple flower that I don’t think that I have ever seen before.
And, a couple of squirrels, which surprised me.
So it was a pleasant walk, even if I lugged my camera and gear around for nothing. I would say that I doubt if I will return, but my next stop for today may take me back to the area again, so I may walk the trail also.
And, my next stop was Paris Park, not much larger than a postage stamp as parks go, 80 acres or so, but what a delightful little park! It’s wooded, with Plaster Creek flowing through it, along with several smaller streams that flow into Plaster Creek. I had the place more or less to myself, and that may have influenced my admiration for this park. I saw two other people there in the entire time that I spent wandering around there.
I think that this park is magical, at least for me. I had walked two and a half miles of the Paul Henry trail, then about another half mile to Paris Park, been walking around in the park for who knows how far, and I was ready for a break. I was looking for a good fallen log to sit on, thinking how nice it would be if there were a bench there, when one suddenly appeared.
The bench was on the edge of a bank that dropped 20 feet or so down to a wide area of creek bottom. The trees growing from the bottoms were huge, the trees were all hardwoods, I would guess old growth hardwoods, some towering well over 100 feet high with massive trunks four to eight feet in diameter. There was one massive sycamore tree there that particularly caught my eye.
There were times when I could see birds in the treetops, but the trees were so tall that there was no way I could have gotten a good photo of them. I did see this guy at a lower level though.
I also saw his mate in the same area, and I kept an eye on both of them hoping that they would land in a sunnier spot, they didn’t. It must be because they wanted privacy.
After mating, the male dropped down to a lower level…
….Leaving the female wondering where he had gone….
…he was down there getting a snack.
Then they flew off together to another part of the park. I sat there for some time, it was such a beautiful spot, but it would have been next to impossible to get a photo that would do it justice. I was photographing a few wildflowers, and about to switch lenses to do it right, when I heard this guy singing above me.
They are one of those species of birds that are often heard, but seldom seen.
While I was shooting that one, I could hear another that sounded as if he were closer to the ground. He was.
Yes! Another nemesis that I can cross off my list!
I though about spending the rest of the day there at Paris Park, but I wanted to stop at the East Paris Nature Preserve to look for egrets and great blue herons.
The East Paris Nature Preserve is just some unused land owned by the Kentwood School District, next to an elementary school, and is being used to teach kids about nature. It’s only a few acres, and most of that is covered in ponds, which is what attracts the herons.
My first great blue heron standing still with my new camera and lens, and it had to be in a terrible spot for photos, but that didn’t stop me from shooting.
The heron dropped the fish while it was trying to get the fish in the right position to be swallowed, and as the heron was looking for his lost fish, a family on bikes came down the trail, scaring the heron off.
The heron only went to the other side of the pond, but an island in the pond blocked my view of it. I waited for some time, enjoying the wonderful weather, but the heron eventually flew off for better fishing grounds.
It was late afternoon by then, so I headed back to my car, pausing to shoot this guy on the way.
So, that wraps up my day, and my week. Tomorrow I will be staying home, walking the extended version of my regular daily walk, unless the predicted storms cut that short.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!