Pickerel Lake in November
On Sunday, November 10, 2013, I went to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve for a day of birding, and photographing anything else that caught my eye.
The weather today was much better than yesterday at the Ionia State Recreation Area, much sunnier, and the wind wasn’t as strong, although it was still blowing hard enough to put a bite in the temperature when I was out in the open and exposed to it. One of the reasons that I selected Pickerel Lake for today is that it is surrounded by wooded hills that help to block the wind. And, it took a while today for the clouds to break up, I thought that it was going to be another dark dreary day when I first pulled into the parking lot.
I started out as I always have there at Pickerel Lake, and headed to the larch swamp, because that’s where I saw the most birds most of the time, but that was late summer, early fall. Today, other than a few chickadees and woodpeckers, I wasn’t seeing birds.
On top of that, most of the needles have fallen off from the larch trees already, but I found a few photo ops.
I walked the entire woodland trail and other than seeing a muskrat….
…and evidence that its cousins, the beavers, had been in the area recently….
…the only bird photo that I got was of a cedar waxwing.
But, it was a beautiful day, and when I got to the bench on the back side of the lake, I sat down to take a long break and admire the view, first at 15 mm…
…and at 500 mm…
While I was taking the break, a couple walked up to me, and we began chatting. They were birders as well, and they told me that they had seen hooded mergansers, and other ducks that they couldn’t ID, in one of the bays on the lake. Since I had walked the woodland trail, I hadn’t seen any waterfowl, other than a few geese and mallards on the very first part of my walk.
So, rather than continue around the rest of the lake, I went back the other way, taking the lakeside trail this time. The views were very good….
…and I soon spotted a juvenile bald eagle hunting over the lake.
My bird in flight pre-sets worked pretty well if I do say so myself.
Spotting a chipmunk hiding in a berry bush, I couldn’t resist trying for a photo.
The Beast really can pull off the nearly impossible shot as far as the auto-focus being able to pick wildlife out of the brush. Here’s the cropped version of the munk.
Soon after that, I spotted the mergansers.
I shot many more than just those of course, and I have updated my previous post on this species in the My Photo Life List series with more photos if you’re interested.
I saw the other ducks that the couple that I had talked to hadn’t been able to ID, they were ring necked ducks, so I set off to stalk them for a photo, or two, or three.
Along the way, I spotted a pie-billed grebe..
…another pair of mergansers…
…I was setting up to take photos of the ring-necked ducks by leaning up against a tree to steady the Beast, when a flock of mallards that I hadn’t seen, nor had they seen me approaching, spotted me and took off…
Out of habit, I shot the mallards first, then I saw that the ring-necked ducks had been spooked by the mallards, and that they were taking off also.
That was just a few of a very large flock.
A few of the ring-necked ducks stayed just in range of the Beast.
I had been much closer to the main body of the flock of ring-necked ducks , but my walking up on the mallards had been my undoing. Oh well, better luck next time.
I walked back past the parking lot to as far towards the east end of the lake as I could go. For some strange reason, the county has a turnstile installed on the trail that forces every one to go one way only, or at least you’re supposed to. I could see how that could be a good thing, but they have it installed very close to the end of the loop if you go the right way around, but where it is let’s you walk quite a way the wrong way before you get to the turnstile. No big deal, just strange, and it didn’t hinder my photography any.
While standing near the turnstile, I saw yet another pair of mergansers, more mallards, a belted kingfisher, and a few other birds, including a few crows.
It looked to me as if the crow was eating a snail, but I couldn’t tell for sure at that distance. Soon it had company though.
I even got a couple of good photos of one of the flock.
It was around 3 PM by then, meaning I had been there for about five hours, so it was time to head for home to sort through the photos, and work on this post.
It’s funny, I went to Pickerel Lake the first few times expecting to see waterfowl and wading birds, but found songbirds instead. Today, I went looking for songbirds, and found waterfowl. But, no matter what type of birds, I had found a few, and even better, had a wonderful day today.
That’s it for this one thanks for stopping by!