My Week, Scruffy
Well, here we go, starting another week. It feels quite pleasant this morning, the humidity levels have dropped enough so that it cooled off nicely overnight. When I complain about the heat in west Michigan, it is really the humidity here that gets to a person, for we don’t have the real heat waves like they do out west. A hot day here is 90 degrees (32 C), but because we’re nearly surrounded by the waters of the Great Lakes, the dew-point can approach 80 degrees at times. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often, as I have a hard time dealing with that.
Anyway, I’m going to the Allegan State Game area today, as soon as I finish my coffee and breakfast. I’ve never hiked there before, so this will be a new place to me.
I’m going to take the back roads to get there, as this is a part of the state that I seldom travel, who knows what I’ll find.
I’m back, and a found a lot, in the state game area. Too much to insert here, so I’ll do a post on just today, which you can find by following this link.
A cool (for summer) overcast morning. I’ve spent too much time fooling around online this morning, so I don’t have much to say before my walk.
The clouds held in there all morning, not only was it darker than normal, the light seemed to be “dead” as well.
Other than yesterday at the Allegan State Game area, I haven’t heard many birds singing of late, so I was quite pleased when this song sparrow favored me with a song.
I was quite surprised to catch the alder flycatcher that I have been chasing for a month or more out in the open field.
I have never seen it out in the open like that before. It’s usually perched on the outside branches of a thicket at best, more likely, I see it moving around in the thicket.
When I first began getting serious about birding, I heard from many people how hard it is to ID warblers, and some of them can be tough, but nothing like flycatchers. You almost have to hear them sing to make a positive ID, they all look alike. That’s made even tougher when their young fledge and leave the nest. Here’s an example from today.
OK, I’m assuming that it is a young flycatcher from how rumpled it looks, but from the size, it could be an adult that had just taken a bath in the creek below where it was perched here to preen, and that’s why it looks so rumpled. It’s so hard to tell the flycatchers apart!
So, I shot another song sparrow, this time bringing home the bacon, in the form of a grasshopper.
For a little color, I’ll throw this one in.
Sorry for the short entry today, time to shower, then visit my mom in the nursing home.
Cool, with a light rain falling as I type this, from the radar, it looks as though the rain will let up for a while soon. So, I’m fooling around, wasting time until that happens.
What a great day for a walk, what a great day to watch birds, what a lousy day for photography. 🙂
Since there were still a few sprinkles of rain falling when I first started out, I was wearing a rain jacket, and it was so cool that it was comfortable doing so. I did shed the rain jacket as soon as the rain let up for good, to bask in the coolness of the day, if that makes any sense.
Because of the weather, I tool only the 70-200 mm L series lens today.
Since it was a cool, wet morning, there were very few people out and about, meaning that the birds out in the open more than normal. I walked right up on the entire family of meadowlarks right on the edge of the upper field, it’s rare for them to be anywhere other than in the center of the field, where they can keep an eye on everyone, but stay hidden in the tall grass. Of course, since I wasn’t expecting them to be there, and I had my camera inside of my rain jacket, no photos.
I’ve been meaning to photograph the milkweed flowers in bloom, but I’ve been holding off for perfect light. I decided today that I had better try for a few as the blooms aren’t going to last much longer.
In a way, it’s fitting that they bloom around the Fourth of July, as they remind me of fireworks the way that the radiate out from a central point on red stems. I’d better take the 15-85 mm lens tomorrow so I can get more depth of field to really do the flowers justice.
I saw a female Baltimore oriole on the ground, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen that before.
The way she was acting made me think that she was a flycatcher at first, coming out of the trees to catch insects on the ground. That reminds me, as many orioles as there are around here, you’d think that I would spot one of their hanging basket nests, but they must build them in hidden spots, for I haven’t seen any this year.
“Bad” weather usually means that I can get closer to birds, as well as seeing more of them.
I even tried a few action shots, despite the low light.
And, the final photo of the day, sumac in bloom, another one that I really should use the shorter lens on.
Oops, I lied, one more, a young turkey that I shared the sidewalk with.
The turkey was feeding on the mulberries that had fallen on the sidewalk.
Unfortunately, the cool weather isn’t going to stick around long. The forecast is for pleasant tomorrow and Thursday, the Fourth of July, then hot and muggy again for the weekend. Since I have to work Friday, there’s not much sense in planning a trip up north. So, I’m going to go back to the Allegan SGA on Thursday before the heat returns, then head for Muskegon for one of the hot days this weekend.
Well, I saw that the price of gas was $3.39 on my way to work yesterday, on my way home, it was $3.59, good thing I topped of my tank the night before at the lower price. Like no one could see that coming. The only truly remarkable thing about the price spike is the “experts” that the media interviewed who are trying to tell us that this spike has nothing to do with the holiday weekend coming up. How do they say that with a straight face?
Anyway, after stating the obvious, time for a weather update. Cloudy, cool, and for a change, the rain moved through early this morning, so as soon as I finish my coffee and breakfast, I’ll be heading out. Anything to get away from the noise coming from what ever they’re doing over at the ex-tennis courts this morning. It sounds like they installed a metal grinding machine to recycle steel.
I almost did something foolish. I saw that Canon is running a sale on several items, the 1.4 teleconverter being one of them. I could afford that right now, and since I would like to eventually have one, I almost bit, and bought one for this weekend. But, of the things that I would like, the teleconverter ranks towards the bottom of what would be the most useful to me right now. I may kick myself in the butt if the price goes up, but I doubt it. Canon runs sales on a regular basis.
How quickly things can change! I think that I’m going to have to visit the camera store this weekend, as much for information as anything, although there may be a purchase made as well. I see that Canon has introduced a new body, the 70D. From the description, it’s a cross between the 7D, which I would like, and the 60D like I have now. The big selling point for the new camera is improved auto-focus, especially when shooting in live view (Using the LCD display), and for use in shooting video. It also features an improved sensor and processor, which really interest me. I assume that the new 70D has a plastic body and isn’t weather sealed as the 7D is.
I won’t be purchasing the new body, I can’t afford it now, and I would never buy one of the first units sold. I’ll let some one else deal with working the bugs out of a new product. Also, if the new technology built into the new 70D is as good as they say, Canon will probably be updating the rest of their camera line soon. So, there’s no reason to be in a rush to buy a second body for a while, which changes my priorities around.
While I was out for my walk, I thought long and hard about that, the teleconverter, and the 300 mm prime lens I would like to eventually buy. If I had the teleconverter, it would probably be on the camera 90% of the time, if it functions with the Sigma lens, which is what I have to check on. I know it would be behind the 70-200 L series most of the time, which would boost that lens to 280 mm max. That puts it close to the 300 mm prime, although I’m sure that the 300 mm prime would outperform the 70-200/teleconverter combination. But, for the time being, it would give me a better combination for walking on days like today, and this week, when there’s rain off and on, and I don’t want to risk the Sigma getting ruined in the rain. Both the 70-200 L series and the teleconverter are weather sealed. So if I would have the teleconverter on the camera 90% of the time, I think that it would be a wiser purchase right now.
Anyway, enough of that, I only throw that stuff in because doing so helps me weigh the pros and cons.
As for my walk itself, it started out extremely cloudy and dark, as you can tell from these white flowers.
Although the knapweed looked a little brighter.
I saw two fawns and their mother back in the tall grass, but I couldn’t get a good shot of the two fawns together, here’s the best of the shots I tried.
Part of the head of one, and part of the body of the other, but I tried.
I repeat myself a lot, but bad weather equals birds, and many of them. Here’s a small sampling.
There were grosbeak everywhere today, flocks of them, the three in the photos I’ve posted were three different birds, not the same one shot as I followed it around. I didn’t even bother with the females or the young ones today, as there were so many of the males around, and out in the open for a change.
The sky brightened up a little, so I made a stab at shooting a few of the milkweed flowers today.
Along with sumac and a chicory flower.
My boss called me while I was out walking, I’m going to have to run a double run tonight. That’s one of theose good news/bad news things. The good news, more overtime, more money. The bad news, I’ll be getting home late tonight, and I wanted to get an early start tomorrow when I return to the Allegan SGA.
A complete change of plans for today. The double run last night took longer than I expected, as traffic was beyond bad. I didn’t even get the worst of it, the north/south expressways were moving at a crawl on the northbound side, as every one headed north for the weekend, driving like idiots. Because of that, I got home very early this morning, and slept in much later than I would like, so the day is already shot in a way.
To go with that, my brother and sister-in-law invited me over to their new house this afternoon, so that shortens the day for walking.
So, I have decided not to return to the Allegan SGA today, as I slept in late, and now have other plans for the afternoon. It’s just as well, it’s humid and cloudy today, and I’d rather not drive that far just to sweat to death while shooting more bad photos, I can do that here.
So, I think that I’ll do just my normal daily walk, then mount the cross rails for the roof racks on my Forester so I can bring my kayak to my brother’s house this afternoon, as he and his wife live on a small lake, and recently purchased kayaks.
My walk today was a comedy of errors in some ways, but I came back with more bird photos that what I have in some time. Now, I have to decide which ones will bore you less than the rest, as they are all of common species. But, before I get to the photos, a few of the errors.
First, the Fourth of July Parade that the City of Kentwood, or somebody, puts on was just ending as I began my walk. I was nearly trampled by the crowds several times, not to mention the cyclists and vehicles all trying to leave as quickly as possible.
Since nearly every one had been to the parade, there were few people in the park, but for some reason, the landscapers were there mowing, on a holiday?
Then, I had a red-bellied woodpecker in my sights, but there was one leaf or twig between us, I don’t remember what it was, for I took half a step backwards, and nearly fell in the ditch next to the trail. That must have been quite a sight, me holding the camera and Sigma lens skyward, then stepping backwards into empty space, trying not to fall or destroy the camera.
And so it went.
However, between my walk and the time I spent at my brother’s house, I have 20 photos that I would like to post. That’s a lot, but what the heck.
Sorry for the rather long, disjointed entry from yesterday, it was that kind of day, and it’s that kind of week. It seems so wrong to think that I have to work this afternoon after one day off, but hey, there’s a weekend coming up!
For the record, not that it matters, I kayaked about five miles yesterday, around and around the very small lake that my brother lives on. I’m going to have to take the kayak out again a few more times this year, I had a great time paddling. And yes, I’ve already broken my vow not to take the new camera in the kayak with me which is how I got the shots of the sandpiper. It was such a small, quiet lake that I knew no harm would befall the camera.
To make up for yesterday’s long, as far as photos post, I think that today’s will be shorter. I slept in late, and I’ve some errands to run this afternoon. So, I’d better finish my coffee and get going.
As predicted, the heat and humidity are building. Not as bad as last year though, when temperatures were near or over 100 degrees. There was one good thing about last year, even during the heat wave, we had clear blue skies most days, despite the heat.
Today was another very hazy day, and although it looked like patches of blue sky to the naked eye, the camera saw it as the same milky white that’s been hanging around for weeks it seems.
I had thought about a tourist type trip one day this weekend, but why waste the gas? Hazy days are not conducive to good landscape photography.
So, I’ll head over to Muskegon to be near Lake Michigan and escape the heat instead. I wish that there was a place that I could spend the night for a reasonable amount of money, then I would spend some entire weekends there to save driving back and forth. I should look into that further.
As for my walk, I don’t know if it was due to the fireworks everywhere last night, or if the red-winged blackbirds are beginning to form large flocks to return south for the winter. I’ve been seeing dozens everyday since the young have fledged, I only saw a handful today. They are one of the first migratory songbirds to arrive in the spring, and one of the first to depart in the late summer.
I saw plenty of other birds, and saved 16 photos from today, but they are almost the same as the ones that I have been posting, so I don’t know how many I’m going to add here. Right now, it’s time for a shower, then running errands before work.
I think that I’ll only post one bird photo for today, one of the young meadowlarks that posed for me.
For the other photos, they will be of flowers.
One of my errands was a stop at the local camera store to inquire about the new Canon 70D and check compatibility issues in using a teleconverter with my lenses. That was a wasted trip, as the clerk that I got stuck with knew nothing, and gave me information that I knew to be incorrect, even after he had spent considerable time in back supposedly checking on the compatibility of the teleconverter.
He told me that I had to have an f/2.8 lens for the auto-focus to function with a 1.4 teleconverter, that not even an f/4 lens would fully function as far as auto-focus. I even asked him to repeat what he said to be sure that I heard him right. I know that isn’t true, from both the Canon website and people whom I have talked to while birding. I don’t know if the clerk is that incompetent, or if he was going to try to get me to purchase another, much more expensive lens, I suspect a little of both.
That’s the trouble with most stores today, incompetent staff. It’s sad when you walk into a store hoping for expert advice and information about a new product, and the clerk knows only that a new model is being introduced. Obviously, he hadn’t even read the promotional material that Canon had sent out. Guess what buddy, it’s your job to know the things that I asked, but that would require some effort on your part, and you’re only there to collect a check, aren’t you?
That camera shop has two very knowledgable and helpful clerks, and four of five who have no business recommending anything to any one, as they know very little. The next time I go there I’m going to be rude, ask to talk to the clerk that I want to deal with and wait until they’re free, even if it means that I have to wait longer.
Anyway, between that and a conversation with my brother, who just purchased a teleconverter recently, I’m not going to buy one now, if ever. I’ll go back to saving up for the 300 mm f/4 prime telephoto.
As I have laundry and other mundane household chores to do this weekend, I’m just going to do the extended version of my daily walk around here today, then go to Muskegon tomorrow, and spend the day near the cool waters of Lake Michigan to escape the heat.
But, before I head out today, I’m going to post a photo of my brother and I that my sister-in-law took on Thursday.
I be looking a bit scruffy, and old, and fat. But, I’ve found the beard to be helpful in warding off insects, so it will remain for a couple more months until the weather cools, and the bugs are gone. Then I’ll shave it off, only to grow it again for warmth during the cold winter months. There are advantages to being single! 😉
It’s official, I don’t use the 15-85 mm lens nearly enough. Not only does it take great photos (remember, these are reduced in size and quality before I upload them)…
…and it works as a macro lens in a pinch…
…but I use it so seldom that I don’t know what I’m doing yet.
That would have been so much better if the fence wasn’t so prominent. I use the Sigma and L series lens for flowers most of the time, and I have trouble getting the entire flower in focus due to the short depth of field when using a telephoto lens, so I’ve forgotten to check the backgrounds when I use those lenses. I made things even worse, since I do have trouble getting an entire large flower in focus with the telephoto lenses, I was stopping the aperture of the 15-85 mm lens down as far as I could all day, not a wise thing to do.
If I have an excuse, and I don’t, but if I were to offer one, it would be the heat and humidity, I guess that’s two? I was miserable out there today, no energy at all, but I soldiered on.
By the way, the reason I used the 15-85 mm today was that I was hearing very few birds, seeing even less, and we had the same type of cloud cover that we’ve had for two weeks or more.
There’s a few low-level, puffy cumulus clouds, some mid-level stratus clouds, some high-level cirrus clouds, and the seemingly ever-present haze. That makes for good flower photos, but photographing birds against that type of sky is something that I have trouble with yet, but I’ll learn.
Since this post is already quite long, I’m going to end it here. Since I’m going to Muskegon tomorrow, I have no doubt that I’ll come home with enough photos to do a post about my day there.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!