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

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…

What's that red thing?

What’s that red thing?

…it was a swamp sparrow…

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

…a new to me species which will be added to the My Photo Life List project.

There were dozens of these species…

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

…and I caught a “wild” hummingbird..

Ruby throated hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbird

Ruby throated 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.

TBD

A coreopsis?

Unidentified flycatching object

Unidentified flycatching object

Unidentified fledgling object

Unidentified fledgling object

Oriental lilies

Michigan lily

Green heron

Green heron

I made it to the Muskegon River…

Muskegon River at Lane's Landing

Muskegon River at Lane’s Landing

…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.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Wood duck in flight

Wood duck in flight

Willow flycacher

Willow flycatcher

Yellow warbler

Yellow warbler

TBD

TBD

TBD

Moth mullein

Black capped chickadee

Black capped chickadee

Eastern Wood Pewee

Eastern Wood Pewee

IMG_7626

Blue/black racer

Here’s a couple of shots of the area near the parking lot.

Lane's Landing

Lane’s Landing

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.

Lane's Landing

Lane’s Landing

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…

Oriental lily

Michigan lily

Butterfly

Butterfly

Grey catbird dodging my lens

Grey catbird dodging my lens

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.

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark doing the injured wing routine

Horned lark doing the injured wing routine

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.

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

Dickcissel

The dickcissel is another new to me species which will be added to the My Photo Life List project.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Adult red-tailed hawk

Adult red-tailed hawk

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

The wastewater treatment facility almost looks good in that shot. 😉

Upland sandpiper

Upland sandpiper

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Turkey buzzard

Turkey vulture

Turkey buzzard

Turkey vultures

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.

Grey squirrel, grey morph

Grey squirrel, grey morph

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.

???

???

???

Cranberry

Particularly, the Pogonia orchids that I found in better lighting, and more open than on my last visit.

Rose Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Pogonia orchid

Rose Pogonia orchid

Anything that red deserves to be photographed

Anything that red deserves to be photographed

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.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass

Atlantic blue-eyed grass

???

???

???

Cranberry

Dragonfly and ???

Dragonfly and ???

???

Club Spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata)

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

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!

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23 responses

  1. Your 15-85 was working very well. I expect that you were helping it along.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    • Thanks, but that lens needs little help. It’s when I play with the settings too much is when I get in trouble.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:36 am

      • I can sympathise with that.

        July 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm

  2. The first yellow flower looks like it might be hawkweed or in that family. If it was about the size of a dime on tall wiry stems it was probably hawkweed.
    The orange lily isn’t an oriental but the native Michigan lily (Lillium michiganense.) That was a good find-at first I thought it was a turk’s cap lily but they don’t grow there.
    I don’t know what the first white flower is but I think that the ones that have swept back (recurved) petals are shooting stars (Dodecatheon dentatum.)
    The orchids are beautiful as orchids always are and you got some nice macros of them.
    The butterflies are all here in New Hampshire because I said we had a butterfly drought on my blog. I’ve seen nothing but butterflies ever since, but now that you said it on your blog they’ll all be flying your way to prove to you that there are plenty of butterflies in Michigan.

    July 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    • Before I forget, thank you!

      The yellow flower was two to two and a half inches across, much larger than hawkweed. When I was trying to ID the tickseed coreopsis a while back, I saw photos of the flower in question, and thought that it was another species of coreopsis, but I could be wrong.

      I didn’t know that there was a Michigan lily, if I’d known that, there would have been many more photos, and better ones at that. I didn’t bother getting close or changing lenses, I just zoomed in on them with the Sigma and got those shots.

      I was very glad that the rose pogonia were not only still flowering, but open farther as well, so I was able to get much better photos this time.

      There have been very few butterflies around here. I may see a few now and then, but it’s a rare thing.

      Again, thanks for your help. I really need to buy a good field guide to flowers, but I’ve had several that left me more confused than without them, and they weren’t cheap either. I’d like one specific to Michigan, or at least the Great Lakes area, maybe I’ll stop in at the bookstore near where I work and see what I can come up with.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:02 am

      • You’re welcome Jerry. Newcombs Wildflower Guide is the best, in my opinion. You can find them in used bookstores for next to nothing.

        July 9, 2013 at 6:19 am

  3. Miriam

    My son and I enjoy reading your posts together 🙂

    July 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    • Thank you very much! I do try to be as accurate as I can, but please, don’t take my blog as gospel as far as identify anything but birds. I’ve been reading a few of your posts and have enjoyed them very much.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:05 am

  4. Another super awesome week you had. You always manage to capture such wonderful birds. One idea on the dark bird with a bright/cloudy background. You can try spot metering to capture it.
    Love the unidentified flycatcher thingy. They are so hard to ID and seem so similar. I think I need a flycatcher book or something.
    For the equipment – you are too funny! It’s always the grass is greener on the other side. You’ve got a great kit and don’t need the 1.4x yet. Between the 7D and the 70D. Interesting thought. Looks like the 7D is still standing above the new 70D. To complicate things. There have been rumors about a Mark II 7D version to come out in 2014.
    I’d say, keep with what you have for a while and enjoy it!

    July 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    • Thanks!

      I’ve been using partial spot metering for birds and small flowers, I may have to try spot metering. I use either center weighted or evaluative for landscapes.

      You almost have to hear the songs of flycatchers to ID them. A pewee and a phoebe look almost identical other than their bills. Willow and alder flycatchers are identical, and were considered one species until recently. The only way to tell them apart is their song.

      I like carrying the 70-200 L series, but it doesn’t have the reach I need for birds, I thought that the 1.4 would help that out some, plus, I’d use it when I buy the 300 mm prime L series lens.

      As far as bodies, that why I mentioned that the 70D had just been introduced. If it does work as advertised, I would assume that Canon will update their entire line, so there’s no way I’ll buy a second body until I know what’s in the pipeline.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:13 am

  5. More marvelous photos! I just love that shot of the young red-tailed hawk. You managed to catch some vibrant colors despite the overcast sky! And we had lots of butterflys up north. 🙂

    July 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    • Thanks, I had to get close to my subjects that day because of the weather. If I remember correctly, northern Michigan got a lot more rain than southwest Michigan did, it was extremely dry here last summer.

      July 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

  6. That wood duck sure had a funny expression on his face! 😉 Continue to admire the fauna you guys have up there. If only my life list had a fraction of those cool ones!!!

    July 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    • Thanks, wait until I catch one of the males in their breeding plumage, they are one of the most colorful birds of North America, and one of the most secretive.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm

  7. plantsamazeme

    The birds at Lane’s Landing were great! The Swamp Sparrow is a cool photo.
    I’ve never seen an Upland sandpiper, that’s a cute bird.

    Your “bunch of these yellow flowers growing right on the edge of the water” are some sort of bladderwort, a carnivorous, free-floating plant.

    My thought is that the “Shooting star” might be Cranberry, I’ve seen Cranberry at Lost Lake blooming at this time of year.

    The second to the last picture is an orchid, probably Club Spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata). I really need to visit Lost Lake.

    I like your dragonfly photo, insects are interesting to look at close up. Nice post, thanks.

    July 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    • Thanks, and yes, you should go back to Lost Lake. Most of the flowers from this shoot were taken very close to the observation deck.

      I think that you are correct in your identification of the flowers, except what you said was bladderwort, unless it grows on land as well as in the water. When I said right on the edge of the water, they were growing on land, in the damp soil right next to the lake, not in the lake itself.

      July 10, 2013 at 2:23 am

      • plantsamazeme

        The yellow flower is Horned Bladderwort, it is not the free floating type, there are several varieties of bladderwort even purple.
        I have a cool photo of Horned Bladderwort growing up out of the wet sand at an interdunal pond near Ludington. If you get a chance check out this post,

        http://plantsamazeme.blogspot.com/2011/10/fall-color-at-ludington-state-park.html

        July 10, 2013 at 7:59 am

      • Thanks Chris! I love Ludington State Park, and your photos were excellent! I don’t get up there as often as I would like. Thanks for sending me the link.

        July 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

  8. Wow! All the photos are amazing but that dragonfly…just wow!

    July 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    • Thank you! I don’t know if I would call them all amazing, but I did slip a few in there.

      July 10, 2013 at 2:16 am

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  10. fantastic photos all of them, very interesting and beautiful

    July 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      July 14, 2013 at 3:22 pm