My week, the weather yucky, but I’m so lucky
Yuck, hot, humid, and my allergies are making the morning miserable for me. It’s one of those days when I’d like to laze around the apartment all day doing nothing. But, I know that in doing so, I would be miserable all day, while if I force myself to get moving, I’ll eventually feel better.
Right now, just the thought of lugging everything out to my Subaru is more than I would like to do. I may even have to make two trips to get everything that I’m taking today. Camera gear, backpack, small cooler with extra water and lunch, so much stuff for just a day of hiking. Oh, and I’d better not forget tissues, as my sinuses are running a marathon this morning. Time to quit whining and get moving.
Wow, what a day! My plan to escape the heat worked better than I had hoped. Today also proved that it’s better to get up and get moving than to sit around feeling miserable.
I went to Muskegon State Park, as I often do. I could feel the difference in air temperature long before I made it to the park, it was 10 to 15 degrees cooler there than in Grand Rapids. A stiff south-southwest wind coming off from the still 50 degree Farenheit waters of Lake Michigan made if feel as if I were standing in front of a refrigerator with the door open.
I hiked the Lost Lake trail to look for birds and wildflowers, I found even more.
Those were shot with my 15-85 mm lens, the first one was not cropped at all. I decided that it might be better if I backed off a little way for the rest of the shots, so they are cropped. 😉
Here’s a sign with information about Lost Lake and the ecosystem there.
I’ve hiked that trail many times, usually just as a warm up for the longer trails. Today, I spent hours there at Lost Lake itself, watching nature, taking photos, and enjoying a grand day. There were still many wild roses blooming along the trail to Lost Lake, and the wind was carrying their scent to me, mixed with that of pine, and of the cool refreshing waters of Lake Michigan.
I got back to the new observation platform on the lake, and then took one lens at a time to see what I could find while wandering in the area. If that lens didn’t work, I made note of what and where things were that I wanted to go back for, then returned with the correct lens later.
I’ve already posted the photos of the plant life that I found around the lake here. But here are two more of the water lily anyway.
I’m sorry for so many photos of them, but it’s my way of telling the world that I’m back as a photographer. Getting the exposure just right for those can be tricky, and in my opinion, I nailed it. I had an idea in my head what I wanted my finished photos of the water lilies to look like, and I got to 95% of what I wanted to achieve.
After spending a good portion of the day around Lost Lake, I returned to the parking lot at Snug Harbor in Muskegon State Park, then wandered around there for a while, and checked out the eagle’s nest close by.
It’s tough to get a good photo of the nest and the eaglets, you’d think that the parents had built the nest in the worst possible spot on purpose. 😉
I waited for a while to see if I could catch one of the adults returning with food, but no luck there. Instead, this guy landed in the tree next to the one I was hanging out under while waiting for the eagles.
I had to make chirping sounds to get him to bend down a little and look my way, in all the other shots I took, his head is partially obscured by the branch above him in this one.
There will be a couple of more posts coming soon with more photos that I took today.
All in all, a great day! I hated to come home to the heat and humidity here, but I had to.
Still hot and humid, you’re going to get really tired of reading that this week. Relief in the form of cooler, drier air isn’t forecast to arrive until Friday, I hope that I don’t melt away before then. I’d better eat breakfast and get my walk over with before it gets too hot for me to survive. I’d also better check all the settings on my camera before I venture out as well, because I was pushing buttons and turning dials all day yesterday. No wonder my fingers are sore today. 😉
Go figure, I keep saying that serious birding is over with for the summer, and I come back with two new to me species of birds.
I saw both birds from the same spot, I shot several photos of the flycatcher, and was going to work my way around to get side and front photos, when the pewee perched even closer, I had to shoot a few of it, by that time, the flycatcher was gone.
I’m not sure why the flycatcher is named the great crested flycatcher, the crest is hardly noticeable, not only in my photos, but in other photos that I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because of its size, It was nearly twice the size of the pewee or the alder flycatcher that I’m still chasing.
I didn’t take many other photos today, so I may as well throw them in here and get it over with now.
I photographed the meadowlark because I am trying to get closer to them. For the turkey and the goldfinch, they were exposure tests.
That’s about it for today, I’m still trying to catch up on other projects.
I almost made it home without getting wet.
As I usually do while I’m drinking my morning coffee, I checked the weather forecast online, and was surprised to learn that heavy storms had just exited the region, with more on the way. The storms hadn’t woke me up, I really can sleep through almost anything. From the looks of the flowers planted around the apartment complex, the rain had been very heavy, as all the flowers had been beaten down to the ground. The wildflowers fared slightly better.
I hate to keep harping about the cyclists around here, but I am also tired of having to get out of their way while I’m walking on the sidewalk when there’s a bike lane right there for them to use.
But in his defense, I would bet that he’s had his share of run ins with the even more rude Lance wannabes in the bike lane.
Anyway, with the cloudy damp conditions, the turkeys were out in full force. I startled the turkeys, who in turn startled a fox squirrel, as you can see in the photo, and the squirrel was running around in circles as the turkeys made their escape…
…pausing just long enough to cover for the squirrel.
A little farther down the road, more turkeys.
I caught a crow blinking, I don’t know if you can make it out in the small version here or not.
Sorry, I guess you can’t, I was going to crop that one down, but I liked getting three of the flock in the frame at one time.
As is almost always the case during “bad” weather, there were birds everywhere.
I could have gotten many more birds, but it was growing darker by the minute, and I could hear rumbling off in the distance which could have been thunder, or trucks on the expressway. I wasn’t sure which, but I thought it best to err on the side of caution and not to dally around any longer. I missed a few shots of the young orchard oriole because by then, it was so dark that the auto-focus couldn’t get a lock on it, one of the few times that the Sigma has failed.
Luckily, I had brought a rain jacket, for a light rain began soon after that. The rain was light enough, and the temperature high enough, that I didn’t want to wear the rain jacket, so I used it to cover the camera and lens as I headed for home. It was an on and off light rain until I got about 100 yards from the entrance to my apartment, then the sky opened up, and a deluge followed. It was raining so hard that I took shelter under a tree at first, but a lightning strike close by changed my mind about that, so I ran over to the covered entrance to one of the other buildings in the complex and waited out the heavy rain there.
They have taken some of the heat out of the forecast for the next few days, and replaced it with more heavy rain and storms. They are now talking about 2 to 4 inches of rain by Thursday night/Friday morning, then cooler, but with more scattered showers over the weekend. That’s OK, I’m broke, so I wouldn’t be going anywhere no matter what the weather.
More heavy rain overnight, more to the south of my area than here, but we received at least some rain here. There are flood watches and warnings up for some of the counties along the Michigan, Indiana border. There’s rain in the forecast for seven of the next eight days, it will be interesting to see the next update of the Great Lakes water levels.
It’s warm and humid this morning, not as hot as it has been, so that’s a relief, but not much of one.
In looking back at the photos I took on Sunday while at Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park, two things dawned on me. One is that I’m darned lucky to have such places so close by. There may not be mountains, ocean beaches, waterfalls, or other large-scale spectacular landscapes to photograph around here, but there are places for me to go where I can extract the more subtle beauty of nature, along with the great variety of things to photograph that there are here in Michigan.
The other thing, is that I have been too intent on close-ups of everything. I didn’t zoom in all the way that I could with the Sigma 150-500 mm lens all the time on Sunday, and I left many images un-cropped, and I love them. That will be apparent in the next, and last, post I do from that day. Part of that has to do with the Canon camera, it is more faithful in reproducing colors, especially greens and blues, than the old Nikon was. In looking at the photos, I found myself liking the setting as much as the critter that I was focusing on.
So, before I babble on forever, I’m going for a walk before the next round of rain arrives.
Well, no rain, instead, the sun came out and it quickly became like a sauna out there. I think that I stayed drier in the rain yesterday, than my perspiration today.
The day started out pleasant enough, and I was seeing a few things to photograph, such as a pair of goldfinches feeding…
..and this insect, whatever it is…
…and a pair of yellow warblers doing their best to remain hidden.
Just about the time the sun began to burn through the clouds, I heard a ruckus overhead, and looking up, I saw one of the red-tailed hawks, a flock of starlings, and a pair of kingbirds. I had just enough time to flip the OS of the Sigma off, and start shooting. I got a few almost winners, the first, was not one of them.
Even though I doubted that I would get anything usable, I continued shooting, catching one of the kingbirds doing a little hawk surfing.
Hawk surfing is what my younger brother calls it when the smaller birds sink their claws into a hawk and ride along on the hawk for a while.
I can see that the secret of getting sharp bird in flight photos with the Sigma lens is to have two birds in the frame at one time, now if I can learn how to get the exposure right, I’ll be all set. 😉
When I got to the most heavily wooded part of the park, there were birds everywhere! I think that many of them were feeding on mulberries, which are ripe now. I missed most of the species there, but I picked off a few.
I had trouble picking out which bird to watch, as there were starlings, the grackles, orioles, robins, cowbirds, thrashers, and so many other species flitting around that I couldn’t identify them all.
In the short time that it took to shoot those, it was getting extremely hot, and I had left the windows of my apartment open, because it had been comfortable under the clouds when I left.
I didn’t want to have my apartment feel like a sauna, so I hurried home, pausing just long enough for these two.
Well, time to shower, then head off to work, I’m sure glad that the AC in the truck works well.
My right-wing wacko thought of the week, why is it that the same government that is keeping tabs on our phone records, Emails, and other electronic communications can not track down and put a stop to the telemarketers who are scammers?
I have a theory, it’s because the bureaucrats in the FTC are delusional enough to think that the scammers actually declare their ill-gotten gains on their tax returns and pay income taxes. Yeah, right, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell them.
I have a suggestion for the IRS, instead of targeting conservative groups for harassment to assist the Democrats in being elected, why don’t you go after the scammers who are stealing millions of dollars from hard-working American citizens?
Anyway, it’s sunny, warm, and humid today, with the threat of rain later in the afternoon. I’d better get moving now, before the heat has a chance to build up.
Too late, with the sunshine and humidity, it was uncomfortable out there again today. There are a number of flowers that are just starting to bloom, and I considered switching lenses and just shooting flowers today…
I should have, for there were very few birds to be seen.
It’s really remarkable how one day I’ll see very few birds, when the day before, I couldn’t keep track of all the birds because there were so many of them.
I think that if the weather cooperates tomorrow that I will take just the L series lens with me and photograph the early summer flowers.
By redistributing the way that I have been carrying everything, my back and shoulder pain has gone away. But, it would be nice to go a day without lugging everything around with me, especially since I seldom stop to change lenses.
It’s all the Sigma’s fault, it’s such a great birding lens to begin with. But, it also does fairly well on flowers and insects. I know that both of the shorter lenses are better for those subjects, but the slight difference makes it easy for me to get lazy and not bother changing to one of the shorter lenses. Adding to my reluctance to change lenses is the fact that I have been dripping with sweat the last few days. The last thing that I need is drip into the camera or one of the lenses.
My plan is to eventually have a second camera body with a short lens that I can carry in one of the holster like cases that are on the market, and carry one body with a long lens for birding.
That’s about it for today, I have some chores to take care of around here before work.
Slightly cooler, slightly less humid today. I took only the L series lens today, but I can’t blame the lens for the fact that I came back with very few usable photos. I had an off day, to say the least.
I had intended to shoot flowers, and that’s what I did, but I’m not happy with the results. You would think that with thousands of flowers in bloom that I looked at today, that I could have found some good specimens, in good light, with a nice background for the flowers. But, that didn’t seem to be the case, here’s the best of a bad lot.
The breeze today, which made it almost pleasant outside, also made photographing flowers more difficult.
I know that others have made this same observation, but why is it that as soon as you point your camera at a flower, it begins to sway in the wind for as long as you keep the camera pointed at it? And, why does it stop swaying as soon as you lower the camera, only to begin again as soon as you think about raising the camera up again?
My best shot of the day was a robin, go figure.
Don’t you just love it when a bird perches in excellent light, even if their pose isn’t the best?
Let’s see, I got a bee.
And I like this one, even though it is only of oak leaves.
I tried to get artsy with some fleabane, at least that’s what I think it is, but it didn’t work as I wanted.
I caught a grackle that had just caught lunch.
The past few days there have been very few people in the park, yet one day there will be many birds, on other days, not very many at all. Today was one of the days when there weren’t many birds around.
I did almost trip over a flying catbird as I crossed the bridge over the creek, that was interesting, the catbird probably thought so too.
I could bore you with the continuing saga of what they’re doing with the tennis courts here, but I think that I’ll hold off on that until I see for sure what they are doing, it still makes no sense to me.
There’s a good chance of rain tomorrow, so I’ll do the expanded version of my daily walk here. If I didn’t wait too long for the price of gas to bottom out, I think that I’ll go to the Allegan State Game area on Sunday for a change of pace.
Gas prices have dropped 70 cents a gallon in my area since the Memorial Day weekend spike, 80 cents a gallon just a few miles away from me. So, do burn a gallon of gas at $3.45 a gallon to get gas at that price, or buy here at $3.55 a gallon, when I’ll save one whole dollar on my purchase if I drive the extra miles. I think that I’ll fill up on my way to work. 😉
One other thing, the water levels of the three largest of the Great Lakes, Superior, Huron, and Michigan, have been going up about an inch per week for the last month. That puts them 13 inches above where they were when the rains came back in March.
The area rivers are also flowing at two to three times their normal volume for this time of year, so the water levels in the lakes should continue to rise.
It’s a good thing that I didn’t make big plans for the Fourth of July weekend, as I won’t be getting a long weekend. I get Thursday off, then have to work Friday.
I did fill the gas tank of my Subaru up yesterday, as the price of gas finally dropped at the stations near me. So it looks like a trip to the Allegan State Game area is on tap for tomorrow. I’ve never hiked there before. The Kalamazoo River flows through there, and I’ve floated that stretch of river in the past, it looks like an interesting area, and is often mentioned as a great place for birding.
The weather is just a few degrees cooler than it has been this time of morning this week, but there’s still a chance of rain for later.
Last night as I was driving for work, the Lansing, Michigan area was getting dumped on with rain. Over three inches in three hours, streets were like rivers! One good thing about a big truck, that isn’t a problem as long as you slow down, and remember to “drag” the brakes to dry them out before you need them. But, the reason for mentioning the rain is that it means that the Grand River will be flowing even higher again for a while, and more water added to Lake Michigan eventually.
Well, I’m back, this may be short, as I am going to promise not to go off on rants about cyclists, brats and their parents, or people lighting firecrackers in a park. Although, I did learn that lighting firecrackers is a good way to find out where every critter was when the firecrackers started going off.
I hadn’t seen the bluebirds for a while, so it was good to see one today.
I did just manage to catch her, didn’t I?
I also manage so fair shots of a few flowers, although I had the same problem today as yesterday, finding good specimens in good light, with a good background. So, here’s the best of the lot.
I have come up with an odd way of operating the camera while photographing flowers. I use the second finger on my right hand to operate the shutter release, my index finger to operate the dial to scroll through the exposure solutions that the camera comes up with, and my right thumb to control the dial that sets the exposure compensation. I know, it would be a lot easier to switch to aperture mode to get the depth of field that I want rather than scrolling through the exposure solutions, but I like doing things the hard way. That, and doing it my way, I don’t have to remember to switch modes after shooting the flowers. 😉
As I was finishing the first leg of my walk, a whitetail buck stepped out of the brush right in front of me again, it may be the same one as last time.
He disappeared into the woods to the left, and I continued on my way. Not long after that, the buck came bounding past me again.
I managed a photo of one of the few monarch butterflies that I’ve seen this year.
Also, a young male rose-breasted grosbeak.
I saw a yellow warbler in the brush along the creek, so I stood there for a while keeping an eye out for it. I turned m head just in time to see the female feeding one of her young, but I was too slow for a photo of that. I did get the mother and young one in one shot though.
The little one stuck around for one more shot….
I think that about does it for the day, and for the week. I hoping that the humidity goes down as they are predicting starting tomorrow. It’s been no fun walking this week, and the humidity in the air doesn’t help as far as photography either. I know that it diffuses the light, but it also means that photos aren’t as sharp as if they had been taken in drier air, and the constant milky sky doesn’t make as good of a background as a blue sky does, at least not to me.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!