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

Still another Muskegon birding trip, the raptors and more

On Sunday August 25th, I made yet another trip to Muskegon to do some birding. Most of the photos that I shot were of shorebirds, but I managed a few really crummy shots of some raptors, and other birds. I’m going to post them despite the fact that they aren’t the best that I have taken, as this blog still serves as a record for the things I see when out and about.

I am now firmly convinced that there is something in the air at the Muskegon Wastewater treatment facility that adversely affects photography. As long as I am upwind from the actual treatment part of the facility, my photos aren’t too bad, but I can still see some loss of sharpness. Downwind of the treatment area, my photos get really bad in a hurry, unless I get extremely close to the subject I am shooting. I’ve also gone other places after the wasterwater facility, and my photos from those places are sharp.

Anyway, now that I have made my excuses, here are the photos, starting with a northern harrier in flight.

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Northern (Hen) Harrier in flight

Those would have come out a little better if I had the time to switch the optical stabilization of my lens off, which is true of most of the bird in flight photos that I’m posting here.

Next up, a couple of a great blue heron in flight.

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

I saw a few juvenile bald eagles, but only managed a few shots of them.

Juvenile bald eagle landing

Juvenile bald eagle landing

Juvenile bald eagle landing

Juvenile bald eagle landing

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

There was a mixed flock of several species of shorebirds in one corner of one of the lagoons today. Every time that some one passed by, the flock would fly off, only to return a few minutes later. I watched that happen a few times, and it gave me an idea. The next time another birder drove past and spooked the shorebirds away, I sat down in the rocks along the bank, and waited for the flock to return. It didn’t take long for a few to return.

Shorebirds landing

Shorebirds landing

With small brown birds coming at me, I wasn’t paying as much attention to what was going on as I should have, for one of the small brown birds coming at me turned out to be one of the main reasons I decided to return to Muskegon today, a peregrine falcon.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

The photos are terrible, but photographing the falcon was like trying to photograph a jet fighter doing a fly by, but at 75 feet, those things are fast!

A passing crow thought that my pitiful attempts to shoot the falcon were funny.

Laughing crow

Laughing crow

Laughing crow

Laughing crow

Later in the day, I spotted a flock of turkey vultures on the ground, and these photos are the ones that convinced me that being downwind to the treatment area really does mess up photography. I was right on top of these, the shots should have been as sharp as a tack! But, they aren’t.

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

I found a pair of common ravens perched in a tree, these photos came out slightly better.

Common raven

Common raven

Common raven

Common raven

One look at their beak will tell you that they aren’t crows!

Here’s another crow for comparison.

American crow

American crow

I don’t think that I’m going to bother with a post of the photos of shorebirds from today. They are the same species as last week, except for this short-billed dowitcher.

Short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

Short-billed dowitcher

I have about 150 photos of the shorebirds from today, most of them better than the photos from last week. Hiding out in the rocks paid off nicely. But, being shorebirds, they all look the same, and the same as last week’s post. So that’s all folks.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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17 responses

  1. Mona

    Nicely captured…..

    August 26, 2013 at 1:27 am

    • Thanks, but I’m not particularly proud of any of these, other than that I got a few raptors for a change.

      August 26, 2013 at 1:30 am

  2. Thanks for pointing out the difference between the crow and raven. I’ve also wondered. How about size? Is one slightly larger than the other? I’ve been reading a book about the GB Heron and it said that the Heron’s main predator is the Bald Eagle. That one struck me as rather strange. The author said they observed the raptors attacking the herons in flight, mostly juveniles and yearlings. The older birds know enough to vamoose if an eagle approaches.

    August 26, 2013 at 3:00 am

    • Thanks! Ravens are larger than crows, but that seems to be regional here in Michigan. I’m used to seeing ravens up north where they are much larger than crows. I was surprised to see ravens in Muskegon, that’s outside of what I thought was their normal range, and they were only slightly larger than crows. The other way to tell them apart is by their voices. Ravens make very similar calls, but they sound “backwards” of the caw of a crow, and with a deeper voice.

      As to the herons and eagles, a hungry predator will try just about anything. But, I see eagles and herons together on a regular basis, and the herons show no fear at all of the eagles. Eagles eat mainly fish, and despite their regal appearance, are also scavengers. The ones in the photos of this post were hanging out at the county landfill looking for scraps as an example. I won’t say that no bald eagle has ever taken a great blue heron, but I doubt if it is something that happens very often. I would believe that golden eagles would be more likely to hunt an occasional heron.

      August 26, 2013 at 8:57 am

  3. I’ve got a shot of what I thought were crows in a tree but now I’m not so sure. Unfortunately the photo doesn’t show their bills very clearly. They were so big that I thought they were turkey vultures at first. I think the shots of the short-billed dowitcher are excellent.

    August 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

    • Thanks! Ravens are larger than crows, the difference in size seems more pronounced the farther north you go. Ravens have a call quite similar to the caw of a crow, but it sounds like some one recorded a crow, then played it back backwards. The voice of ravens is also deeper.

      Sitting in the rocks, I was able to get great shots of all the shorebirds there, but they look exactly the same as last weeks shots, just not cropped as much, so I see no reason to do what amounts to a duplicate post. The photos will be used for My Photo Life List when I get to those species, so you will see them. 😉

      August 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

  4. Fabulous series of the beautiful birds…

    August 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

    • Thanks, but I wouldn’t rate my photos as fabulous.

      August 26, 2013 at 9:08 am

  5. Not to be boring but I love the crow shot, too! (But, then again, I’ve always loved the crow family– jays and magpies esp.)

    August 26, 2013 at 9:47 am

    • Thanks, they are among my favorites too, some of the smarted birds that there are, and fun to watch.

      August 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

  6. What a good selection of birds you caught on your trip. I am sure that air quality will affect your photos. You’ll have to carry a large fan with all your other equipment to clear the air.

    August 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    • Thanks, but I don’t think that there’s a fan large enough to handle clearing several hundred acres of air.

      August 27, 2013 at 2:50 am

  7. Pingback: Muskegon birding trip, the leftovers | Quiet Solo Pursuits

  8. Love them all, but especially like the one of the shorebirds landing. Very nice! I have to say it was brave of you to sit down on those rocks. The ones along the water here are full of wolf and tunnel spiders.

    August 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    • Thanks, I wish that you hadn’t told me about the spiders though, I get so involved in photography that I never look for things like that when I find a good spot to sit.

      August 28, 2013 at 2:25 am

  9. Can’t believe the raptors you saw on this visit. How lucky you are. And the short-bill dowitcher? Priceless image.

    September 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    • Thanks, it helps that my eyesight is still nearly as good as that of a raptor’s.

      September 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm