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

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.

Larch

Larch

Larch

Larch

Just a pond

Just a pond

I walked the entire woodland trail and other than seeing a muskrat….

Muskrat

Muskrat

…and evidence that its cousins, the beavers, had been in the area recently….

Chew marks on a fallen tree

Chew marks on a fallen tree

…the only bird photo that I got was of a cedar waxwing.

Cedar waxwing

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…

Pickerel Lake in the sun

Pickerel Lake in the sun

…and at 500 mm…

Pickerel Lake in the sun

Pickerel Lake in the sun

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….

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

…and I soon spotted a juvenile bald eagle hunting over the lake.

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

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.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

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.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

Soon after that, I spotted the mergansers.

Male hooded merganser

Male hooded merganser

A pair of hooded mergansers

A pair of hooded mergansers

Male hooded merganser

Male hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

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..

Pie-billed grebe

Pie-billed grebe

…another pair of mergansers…

Female hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

Male hooded merganser

Male hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

…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…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

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.

Ring-necked ducks in flight

Ring-necked ducks in flight

That was just a few of a very large flock.

Ring-necked ducks in flight

Ring-necked ducks in flight

Ring-necked ducks in flight

Ring-necked ducks in flight

A few of the ring-necked ducks stayed just in range of the Beast.

Ring-necked ducks

Ring-necked ducks

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.

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

Pickerel Lake

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.

American crow

American crow

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.

IMG_4506

American crows

American crows

I even got a couple of good photos of one of the flock.

American crow

American crow

American crow

American crow

American crow in flight

American crow in flight

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!

23 responses

  1. Some truly gorgeous shots here. Loved the pond reflections and many of the bird shots, especially the hoodies!

    November 10, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    • Thank you! Both the hoodies and the pond reflection were pleasant surprises, as I didn’t expect the hoodies to be there, or calm enough water anywhere for reflections as windy as it was.

      November 11, 2013 at 9:02 am

  2. Really enjoy your posts. Beautiful and very interesting!

    November 11, 2013 at 2:08 am

    • Thank you Karen, glad that you enjoyed it.

      November 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

  3. Love the mergansers! I was hoping to see a few of those when I went to Bombay Hook this weekend. So, I’ll head back there Thanksgiving weekend!

    November 11, 2013 at 5:36 am

    • Thank you, and good luck on your trip!

      November 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

  4. I wonder if the turnstile is there to count people. In any case, it would be a very strange thing to see on a trail! I like the crow shots. The cedar waxwing looks like he was actually in a cedar tree too. This looks like it would be a beautiful and peaceful place to visit at any time of year.

    November 11, 2013 at 6:32 am

    • I have no idea what the turnstile is for, but thinking about it makes it weirder. The trail is for cross-country skiers in the winter, that turnstile has to be a real pain for people on skis. I wasn’t going to add that many crow photos, but they’re hard to photograph well, and seeing them in action close up was pretty cool. Yes, the waxwing was in a cedar.

      November 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

  5. Nice shots! Enjoyed your post!

    November 11, 2013 at 7:36 am

    • Thank you Bob!

      November 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

  6. Beautiful photos!

    November 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

    • Thanks Cornel, glad that you enjoyed them.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  7. I enjoyed your day as well.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:58 am

    • It was great having you along, at least in spirit, for I tried my best to match some of your photos.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm

  8. Enjoy that foliage while it lasts… :)!!!

    November 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

    • Thanks, but you’re too late, this last storm has removed most of it. 😉

      November 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  9. Wow, wow, wow! I would love to see hooded mergansers like that! How awesome. You got some wonderful photos. I love that one of the chipmunk, very optically interesting!

    November 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    • Thanks Amy. I’ve seen mergansers in the Pigeon River Country before, but could never get close to them.

      November 14, 2013 at 2:18 am

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  11. You got a lot of great shots, but those Merganser shots are beautiful! I can only hope to get shots that are half as good!

    November 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    • Thanks, but you do very well with your photos! I’ll try to send a few of the mergansers your way.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:02 am

  12. So you got to see a murder of crows. That’s wonderful !! Loved all of the lake images. What a great place to explore. Had never heard a Lurch tree before. What a crazy name. Oh..and you got close to the mergies. That’s fantastic!

    November 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    • A murder of crows is easy, we used to hunt crows using decoys and calls. The tree is a Larch, I was afraid that I mis-spelled it. It is also known as the tamarack, it’s the only member of the pine family to shed its needles in the winter.

      November 22, 2013 at 2:14 am