Another trip to Muskegon, more birds, blooms, and bugs
On Sunday, July 7th, I went to Muskegon again, to do some birding, and to escape the heat here in Grand Rapids.
Since it was hot and muggy, I got an early start, for me. I had a plan, go to Lane’s Landing to hike first, then hit the county wastewater treatment facility, then finish off the day at Lost Lake in Muskegon State Park.
My reasoning was this, Lane’s Landing is about a mile north of the wastewater treatment facility, and both are about ten miles from Lake Michigan. So, they don’t get as much cooling from the big lake as I was hoping to get. By starting fairly early in the morning, I’d get Lane’s Landing out of the way before the heat got too bad, then cool off in the AC of my car as I drove around the wastewater treatment facility, and spend the heat of the day at Lost Lake, where it is much cooler.
I think that I have mentioned Lane’s Landing before, it’s in the Muskegon State Game Area, just to the north of the wastewater treatment facility, and along the Muskegon River. There used to be access to the river, but the DNR has the road to it closed now, why I don’t know. It’s one of the birding hot spots in the Muskegon area.
So, I arrived at Lane’s Landing, and as I was showering in insect repellent, I could hear a multitude of birds singing. Walking across the parking lot, I noticed a patch of red in one of the willows…
…it was a swamp sparrow…
…a new to me species which will be added to the My Photo Life List project.
There were dozens of these species…
…and I caught a “wild” hummingbird..
…you can see that the same milky white sky that has plagued me for the last two weeks was present again this day. I went up 1/3 on the exposure for the hummingbird, it wasn’t enough.
I just walked along, shooting what caught my eye as I went.
I made it to the Muskegon River…
…but all the trails were so overgrown that I didn’t feel like busting my way through all the growth. I don’t know if that’s normal in the summer, for it’s the first time I made it to the river. The other times I was there this year, I didn’t make it that far, as the dike that serves as the trail had washed out during the April flood. Maybe very few people have been going there due to the dike being washed out.
Besides, I was already drenched in sweat, and I was looking for cool, so I turned around, and walked back to my vehicle, shooting as I went.
Here’s a couple of shots of the area near the parking lot.
The two-track in that photo runs along the top of a dike used to control the water levels in the marshes on either side. The willows are on the edges of the marshes, and that’s where I found many of the birds. Once you near the river, the marshes turn into swamps, and there were many birds there, but in the tops of trees and out of range of even the Sigma lens. Here’s a photo looking across the marsh towards the river.
A breeze was beginning to come up, making it feel cooler, and the road to the parking lot was shaded, so I walked down the road a piece…
The shot of the catbird was not cropped at all, I was that close to it. If my shutter finger had been slightly faster, I would have had my best shot ever of one.
I haven’t seen many butterflies this summer, and on my way over there this morning, I heard a news report that no one is seeing butterflies, and scientists are going to begin a study to find out why. I would assume that it is because of the hot dry summer we had last year, but I could be wrong.
I saw any more birds than I have posted photos of, but I think that you can see why Lane’s Landing is considered to be one of the great birding spots in West Michigan.
Time to head to the wastewater treatment facility for other species of birds.
This next one looks like a meadowlark, but it’s not, it’s a Dickcissel. It’s in the same family as cardinals. Meadowlarks are larger, and have a long thin beak. Dickcissels are slightly larger than a sparrow, and have short, stout beaks. I had read that people were seeing them at the wastewater treatment facility, one of the reasons for my stop there.
The dickcissel is another new to me species which will be added to the My Photo Life List project.
The wastewater treatment facility almost looks good in that shot. 😉
I got the dickcissel, which is what I went there for, and from the way that the vultures were eyeing me, I thought it best to leave, and head for the refreshing breezes at Lost Lake.
I parked in the Snug Harbor parking lot of Muskegon State Park, and hiked back to Lost Lake. That’s where I spent the afternoon, enjoying the cool breezes off from Lake Michigan as I wandered around Lost Lake, photographing anything that caught my eye.
There were a bunch of these yellow flowers growing right on the edge of the water. I have no idea what they are, they looked like yellow popcorn, each one slightly different in shape, as you will see. But, I had a few others to shoot first.
Particularly, the Pogonia orchids that I found in better lighting, and more open than on my last visit.
Back to the yellow flowers…
Every one of them looks different, and I couldn’t see any of the normal parts of a flower that I would expect to see, so I went looking for other flowers to shoot.
Most of the Lost Lake photos were shot with my 15-85 mm lens, I love that lens! The last dragonfly was shot with my 70-200 L series lens, you may want to click on that photo to see what that lens can do. It requires a bit more work than the shorter lens, but when I get it right, it’s really right!
I’m sorry for so many photos in this one, but turn me loose in the woods of Michigan for a day, and there’s no telling what I’ll photograph, or how many photos I’ll come back with.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!