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

My Week, making plans

Monday

Well, last week was very warm, and I’m proud of myself for not whining about it too much. But, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out, this week is forecast to be worse, and next week, even worse yet. That is, if the long-range forecasts are correct, and I’m hoping that they are not.

I have some photos from yesterday’s trip to Muskegon, taken while I fooled around on the Lost Lake trail, I’ll have to look at them again to see if they are worth doing a post about.

Since I’m going on vacation in a month, I’d better stick closer to home until then to save money on gas. I think that my vacation is going to be more costly than I first thought. I checked on the cost of taking the Pictured Rocks tour boat, and it’s now $36, and there are several places that I am planning to go that have similar fees.

That means that I’ll be staying home for the Labor Day weekend, that’s OK, after fighting the crowds up north a couple of weeks ago, I have no desire to repeat that fiasco!

At the rate that the trees around here are changing color and/or dropping leaves, I hope that there’s some color left up north when I go. I’ve been noticing that I can see farther into the woods again the past two weeks, since so many leaves have fallen already.

I’d better get moving before it gets so hot outside that I melt!

Well, I didn’t melt, it started out quite pleasant under a heavy cloud cover and a good breeze. Of course the heavy cloud cover and good breeze limited my opportunities for photos, but I managed a few. They’re not my usual style, but that’s OK, I’m trying to expand my horizons.

I shot this chicory flower because it looked pink to me, but in my photo, it looks more blue.

"Pink" chicory

“Pink” chicory

With very little light to work with, I went for a softer look than I normally do, it was the same with this crown vetch.

Crown vetch

Crown vetch

I shot a few photos of a male goldfinch feeding his offspring, but they aren’t worth posting, I can do better. The only other bird that I shot was this white dove.

White dove in flight

White dove in flight

Other than possibly egrets, the white dove was about the only species of bird that would have photographed well against the dark clouds. The white doves aren’t a native species, they are pigeons that have been bred to be white, and used during ceremonies where they release “white doves”. Since they are captive birds until they are released, few of them survive more than a week or two in the wild. The vanity of mankind continues to harm innocent animals.

I found this snake crossing the road, and stood there to make sure that it made it safely across without getting run over by car or bike. Since I was standing there anyway, I shot this photo.

Garter snake

Garter snake

And my last photo of the day is one that fuels my desire to have a good macro lens.

Grass or sedge?

Grass or sedge?

To the naked eye, the “spikes” looked solid, but after blowing it up, I see that they’re not. Just like the photo of the grass flower last week, there are many times that our eyes can’t see the details in small plants and insects. I’d love to have a macro lens so that I could really get close.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t have a macro lens, I’d be blowing up everything to see what it looks like close up. 😉

That’s it for today. I’ll work on my vacation plans for a while, then visit my mom.

Tuesday

The big news! The weather forecast has changed, it is still going to be hot, but not unbearably hot like the long-range forecast had been saying. There is also a good chance of rain for two of the three days for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, so it’s just as well that I’ll be staying home.

We had some rain overnight, so it is cloudy and humid as I type this, but hey, it’s still summer, so warm and humid is to be expected.

I’m getting better at using live view and the camera mounted on the tripod. It’s a good thing, there were very few birds around today, even the finches seem to be flocking up and getting ready to head south.

You have to wonder what the trigger is for birds to do that, and how they find each other to form the flocks. I have no idea, but they seem to.

It can’t be temperature, it’s been warmer during the last week than the month preceding it. It has to be the amount of sunshine, that’s all I can think of.

Anyway, I’m going to start with another “pink” chicory. I saw this one early on in my walk when the overcast was still making it very dark, I thought that I would get a better shot on my way home when there was more light. But I shot this to make sure that I remembered the flower on my way back.

Pink chicory

Pink chicory

My plans were foiled. I did remember that flower on my way back, I had the camera on the tripod and ready to get a better photo, but on my way home, it was blue! I don’t know if that has to do with the light, or how long the flower has been open, or why they change color, but they do.

I shot a so-so photo of one of the juvenile finches.

Juvenile American goldfinch

Juvenile American goldfinch

That reminds me, a little housekeeping chore. I love the new theme I’m using, and I like the slide show at the top of the posts. But, I am going to have to start changing the way that I do my posts, because I can’t select which photo from a post goes into the slide show. It’s always the first one that I upload to a post. I thought that I could change it by selecting a photo as the featured photo, but that doesn’t change the slide show. So, from now on, I am going to post a good photo to each post to start, even if it is way out of chronological order.

With that out of the way, back to photos. I was checking on some flowers to see when or if they would be ready to shoot, and I found this wasp, so I had to shoot a few photos of it.

Wasp

Wasp

Wasp

Wasp

In one of those strange things that plants do, one of the highbush cranberry has begun to flower again, even though the bush is loaded with ripe berries from the first round of flowering.

Highbush cranberry flowers

Highbush cranberry flowers

As I approached the footbridge over the creek, I came eye to eye with a young great blue heron. The heron lunged under the bridge to hide, so I stood there for a while to see what it would do. It had chosen a poor spot to escape from, so I wondered how it would get itself out of the mess it had made for itself. In just a few seconds, the heron came out from under the bridge, checked me out, and headed upstream.

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Not wanting to spook the heron, I backed off, and resumed my walk along the path that runs parallel to the creek. I hadn’t gotten very far when guess who appeared?

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

The heron had landed on a branch over the creek, and was really checking me out, as if it were curious about me.

Juvenile great blue heron

Juvenile great blue heron

Right after that last shot, the heron decided that I was one of those evil humans its parents had warned it about, even if I did make beeping and clicking sounds, and he departed for safer hunting waters.

Where’s the Cooper’s hawk when you need one?

Starlings

Starlings

Unlike all the other species of birds, the starlings are becoming more numerous everyday. I can’t help but wonder if the increasing number of starlings has something to do with the other species leaving. The area where I walk can only support a set number of birds as far as available food, if the starlings eat it all, then there’s little for the other birds.

Anyway, back to flowers. I found another chicory that looked pink, and had the camera all set up and ready to go before this flower changed color on me.

Almost pink chicory

Almost pink chicory

Nearby, I found these two flowers as well.

From the mint family?

From the mint family?

Moth mullien

Moth mullein

Well, that’s all from today, not a bad haul despite the gloomy weather.

I still had trouble with the flowers moving when using the live view, even though the breeze was light today. I can see that it will really work well under the right conditions. I can get the focus exact, as long as the plants aren’t swaying in the wind.

Wednesday

More rain overnight, heavy rain at times in places. That’s OK, we needed the rain.

However, that has resulted in another day of heavy overcast this morning. The one good thing about the heavy overcast is that it holds the temperatures down while I’m walking.

On the birding front, I saw fewer species than since last spring today. The flocks of goldfinches are getting larger, as are the flocks of starlings. Fall is coming whether we like it or not. I haven’t photographed many of the all year resident birds this summer, as I knew that they would be all that there would be to shoot over the winter.

As for the flowers, nothing new today, but I made yet another attempt at a pink or purple chicory.

Chicory

Chicory

This one was bi-colored, which is why I shot it. That shot still doesn’t show the pink or purple very well, I suppose that I could try adjusting the white balance of my camera, but it really isn’t worth it.

I guess that three days of cloudy skies is getting me down, I’d better get over that soon, because once November gets here, the clouds will be constant until March. It could be the change of seasons also, this summer has been close to perfect, and I’m not ready for it to go yet.

The long-range weather forecast for September is in, and it has me worried. It shows a cold snap the week before my vacation, then very nice the week of my vacation. Since those long-range computer models are never correct, I would say that if they predict nice weather this far out, I’ll probably have crappy weather while on vacation. 😉

I could go on one of my right-wing extremist rants over those who say that health care is a right, and what that really means, but I’m not sure that I want to go there. What the heck, I’ll do the short version.

Health care is a service, or product, delivered to you by another person or company. The services are delivered by doctors and nurses, the products are the drugs and medical equipment produced by others.

Saying that health care is a right sounds so very good. But what it means is that you believe that you are entitled to the services and goods delivered or produced by others at no cost to you. What health care is a right really means is that those in the health care industry are your slaves that you can force to work for you at no cost.

Having the government step in doesn’t change that equation, it only changes the slavery aspect from slavery on a personal basis, you own the slave, to an institutional form of slavery where the government owns the slave and forces them to produce for you.

Any one who thinks that government slavery is a good thing is just wrong-headed, it never works well for very long. The slaves rebel eventually, and that’s what will happen in the health care industry, it won’t be pretty.

Well, enough of that.

Thursday

Four more days of the heat and humidity to endure, then fall-like weather is forecast to settle into the area, starting on Labor Day. It wouldn’t bother me a bit if this were the last heat wave of the summer, and it looks as if that is a possibility. At least there’s sunshine today, which I am going to enjoy despite the fact that the sunshine will make it feel warmer while I’m out for my walk.

Gas prices have done their holiday weekend spike upwards, another good reason for me to stick closer to home this weekend. It will be nice to have three full days off from work, even if I don’t travel anywhere special.

I think that I’ll do the long version of my daily walk on Saturday, that will give me time afterwards to catch up on housework and do laundry. Sunday, I’ll go over to Palmer Park, it is heavily wooded so it will be the one of the coolest areas locally, and I may see a few warblers migrating through. Then on Monday, I’ll hit Pickerel Lake again and see what I can find there. Sounds like a plan!

Now, it’s time for breakfast, then go out and face the blast furnace.

I’m back, but the birds aren’t. I saw scant few today, even the flocks of goldfinches and starlings weren’t around. I’m still waiting for a few of the late summer flowers to hit their peak, so I shot very few photos today. I’m going to start with one that I have photographed often this summer, Queen Anne’s Lace, just because I like this one.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

I found a white butterfly to chase around for a while, and managed to get one good shot of it.

White butterfly

White butterfly

The next three photos are of two caterpillars that I found on the same plant, it looks to me that they were just starting the process of creating the chrysalis that protects them while they undergo the pupal transformation into a butterfly through metamorphosis.

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

Caterpillar entering the pupal stage

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get better photos, but the caterpillars choose locations where they are hidden from possible predators. Making things more difficult was a fence that prevented me from getting to the best spot to take the photos from. I’ll have to check the vine that they were on to see if they have formed a chrysalis, and if so, check everyday to see if I can catch the butterflies emerging.

I thought that the new theme that I’m using always added the first photo that I upload to a post as the photo that goes into the slide show at the top of the page. But, when I did the post on the Pewees, it used the last photo, the one with a leaf partially obscuring the bird, argh! It’s a conspiracy! It takes the worst photo of the lot to use in the slide show! I wonder how it knows?

That’s about it for the day, as I’m feeling a bit under the weather and could use a nap before work tonight.

Friday

Just three more days of the heat and humidity to go, including today. For some reason, this heat wave hasn’t affected me as much, maybe it has to do with attitude? Maybe it has affected me, and that’s the reason that I needed a nap yesterday? Don’t know, don’t care.

I don’t want to see summer come to an end, with the birds leaving, and no more flowers or insects to photograph. On the other hand, I do much better in cooler weather, so I’m looking forward to that with the coming of fall.

I haven’t done an update as far as the water levels of the Great Lakes, that’s because they have been holding steady this summer after the dramatic rise this spring. The levels are still low, however, not nearly as low as this time last year.

Time for a walk.

I’m back. Oh man was it hot out there today! Even with a good breeze blowing, it was so hot that I stayed in the shade as much as possible. I’m coming close to complaining, so I had better drop this line now.

I saw very few birds again today, I think that birding is about done around here except for a stray migrant or two from time to time, and the all year residents.

I don’t know if this is related to fewer birds around this area or not, but the number of grasshoppers around here has skyrocketed over the past two weeks. These things are everywhere now!

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

There have been a few around all summer long, but now they are flying out of the grass in waves as I walk through the fields.

Given how many photos I shot of birds carrying grasshoppers back to their young this summer, I tend to believe that the drop in the number of birds at the same time the numbers of grasshoppers exploded is related to at least some degree.

I looked for the caterpillars from yesterday, but I didn’t see them. I may have missed the right vine, I’ll check again tomorrow.

I did find a monarch butterfly.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

But, I couldn’t catch the shot that I wanted, better luck next time.

I did shoot another photo of a turkey vulture in flight for practice, and as a way of learning what exposure settings work best.

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

That was shot with the 70-200 mm L series lens and + 1/3 EV. I should really go some place where I see many birds in flight, the species doesn’t matter, put the beast (Sigma lens) on the camera, and shoot as many shots as it takes to learn how to get good bird in flight photos with it, even if I delete all the photos that I shoot. I’m getting close to being zeroed in with it, but I still have a way to go. The L series does a good job, but I have to crop more than I would like with that lens.

My only other photos from the day are these two.

Skipper

Skipper

Skipper and friend

Skipper and friend

They aren’t great, but what the heck, I like them.

Something that I am giving serious thought to is discontinuing my cell phone service completely. Right now, I’m paying almost $50 a month to Verizon for the privilege of ignoring 4 or 5 scammers (telemarketers) a day. (A big thanks to the government for allowing the phone companies to make cell phone numbers public, and not enforcing the no call list law!)

99%  of the time, the calls I make or receive are related to work. I have a cell phone from my employer that I keep in the truck in case of emergencies on the road. There’s really no reason for me to duplicate that with my own phone. I could put the $50 a month that I’m paying now to much better use.

I heard that there’s going to be a one dollar a month tax increase on cell phone plans, with that money going to make sure that every one in the US has Internet service. Didn’t Bill Clinton and Algore fix that back in the 90’s? That’s right, the tax increase at that time was just for universal internet service, this tax increase is going towards universal high speed Internet service.

I cancelled my land-line years ago when I bought my first cell phone, now, I may become one of the few people in the US with no phone service at all. I will certainly be one of the few people who aren’t obsessed with a phone! I had a smart phone, it had a lot of great features that I liked, but it wasn’t worth the cost to me.

Anyway, enough from today, tomorrow is the start of a 3 day weekend, I am going to relax and enjoy all three days of it!

Saturday

I was up early this morning, too early really, but it’s a holiday weekend, so I don’t have to work tonight.

We had some rain overnight which has cooled it down a little, thankfully, but the really cool air is still forecast to arrive on Monday. It looks like I’ve survived another heat wave, and without whining too much this time.

Maybe I didn’t weather the weather as well as I thought that I did. I haven’t felt great the past few days, today, my legs were aching when I started my walk. Since I have poor circulation in my legs, varicose veins and such, aching legs aren’t unusual. But they were worse today, with the ache in my right leg going all the way to my hip.

I walked along the road to start, as I always do, but when I got to the bike/walking path, I turned left to do the long version of my daily walk. I looked up to see this.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawk

Seeing it spread its wings and leap into the air, I shot, cutting off its head, nice timing, idiot! But, it wasn’t totally my fault, look how much closer the limb that blocks the hawk’s head is to the limb he was perched on in the first shot. The darned trees are conspiring against me. 😉

Headless Juvenile red-tailed hawk leaping into flight

Headless Juvenile red-tailed hawk leaping into flight

I kept the camera on him and got one more shot before he disappeared.

Juvenile red-tailed hawk in flight

Juvenile red-tailed hawk in flight

I should have gone down another third in EV, as if I had the time.

Anyway, I got just a little further down the trail, and a sudden wave of feeling sick in every way that one can feel sick swept over me. More than anything, I wanted to lay down and sleep, not good.

I stood there for a few minutes until some of those feelings went away, but I decided to turn around, and just walk the park to start where there are restrooms, water, and help if I had gotten really sick.

I managed a few photos of grasshoppers despite not feeling well.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

It was this kind of day, partly sunny, with debris clouds left over from last night’s storms.

Sky

Sky

I like everything about that shot other than the exposure, and believe me, I was adjusting away over the course of half a dozen shots trying to get the exposure correct. I think that I would have had to resort to an HDR composite to get the exposure exactly how I wanted it.

While in the park, I sat down and took a long break, hoping that I would feel better afterwards. I did, for a while. I was even thinking of doing the long version when I started back walking, but that idea soon passed. I did shoot a few more photos.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

Pokeweed berries

Pokeweed berries

Viceroy butterfly

Viceroy butterfly

As I was walking down the hill out of the park, I began to feel much worse again, so when I got to the road, I headed back home.

I think that I may have let myself get dehydrated this past week in the heat. I haven’t been drinking any more water than I normally do, up until this morning, even though I have been losing a lot more water than normal. I was very thirsty as soon as I started walking, and drinking more than I normally do. It was shortly after I drank a good sized slug of water that the first wave of feeling sick hit me, and that pattern continued. Being dehydrated would also explain why my legs ached more than usual today, also.

I’m feeling much better now after more water and some rest. Even my legs feel better. If I still do this evening, I’ll do the part of my walk that I cut out today. That’s not a bad idea, I’ve never walked around here in the evening to see what wildlife was around during that time of day.

But, since this is getting quite long, I’m going to end it here.

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

8 responses

  1. I thnk the grass / sedge is a grass. I like the background in the shot of the crown vetch. I’ve never seen a pink chicory blossom but a lot of plants have different colored flowers.
    That’s a nice shot of the juvenile goldfinch-it’s amazing how much it looks like a parakeet. It was nice of the blue heron to follow you around and pose.
    That’s a great macro of the grasshopper, even if you don’t have a macro lens!
    I’m glad to see that someone is seeing monarch butterflies.
    Hope the good that the extra water and rest did is lasting.

    August 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    • Thanks. I felt so good this afternoon that I went out and finished my walk. I got a praying mantis shot that’s much better than the grasshopper.

      I was quite shocked to see the heron land right there in plain view and look me over the way that it did. Sometimes luck is better than skill. 😉

      August 31, 2013 at 7:44 pm

  2. Your pictures are getting better and better all the time. I liked the pink chicory.

    You cannot imagine how bizarre your thoughts on health care sound to us across the pond. The administrative costs of universal health care are so much lower than yours for a start and until our present government gets its way and wrecks our service, we don’t have to worry that we might be getting prescriptions and diagnoses that provide the doctor and drug company with more benefit than us as patients. My wife works in our nationalised health service and feels privileged to do it and far from a slave. Still, every one is entitled to their own opinion.

    August 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    • Thanks, I sometimes obsess trying to get a shot of a particular subject, which results in too many photos.

      There’s a huge difference in what you have as universal health care, and what is being implemented here, which is an oddball system where we will be forced to purchase insurance, and doctors will be forced to accept what ever the government decides to force the insurance companies to pay out.

      August 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm

  3. Your posts are always so loaded with a tons of beautiful images, lots of introspection, photo insights and ‘stuff.’ By the time I get to the end, the 100 things I wanted to say fly out of my brain.
    First – WHERE IS THE SNAKE WARNING ??? I nearly jumped out of my chair when I saw that photo.
    For the chickory pink/lavender flower. My guess also was your white balance. I’m assuming you’re still showing images SOC, as the WB can be adjusted in post. My guess is that most of these are in shady conditions. You can try that setting. I’ve heard from a photo instructor that the AWB feature tends to put a blue cast to images. You can try just setting daylight WB and see what comes of that.
    For the healthcare thing – don’t even get me started. It really bugs me when I see someone out in public that is clearly overweight, and smoking. My hard earned tax dollars get to pay for their healthcare. I get to pay for their personal irresponsibility of their health.
    The heat – YES, What you’re needing is electrolytes. I use ZippFizz for those hot and humid days, as well as drink Smartwater. It’s well worth the $$. Even Emergen-C can have electrolytes & B12 vitamins in it which helps tremendously.
    Let’s see..what else..my mind’s gone blank. Darn old age. 🙂

    September 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    • Thanks, I knew that you’d like the snake. I do become obsessed at times with trying to capture one particular thing, the pink chicory is a perfect example. Once I figure a problem out, it helps me to improve when photographing other subjects. I also take things step by step, learn one thing, then move on to the next. Playing with white balance is in the future yet. I learned when trouble shooting machinery to make one change at a time, so you know what did what, and I’m taking that approach to learning what the 60 D is capable of.

      On healthcare, I wouldn’t mind paying for the unheathy people’s healthcare quite so much if they didn’t spend all their money on pleasure, then expect others to pick up the tab for their necessities. The people who want their healthcare paid by others are those spending $200 a month on cable, and another $150 on a smartphone plan.

      September 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm

  4. The Goldfinch on the Queen Anne’s Lace and the wasp are really wonderful. Mint family – yes, for sure.

    September 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      September 9, 2013 at 1:01 am