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

Spring 2014 vacation, around home

I didn’t stop shooting photos when I got back home for the time between when I was near Grayling, Michigan and when I went back up to Ossineke, Michigan. I walked my normal daily walk on a few days, went to Pickerel Lake one day, and Muskegon for two days, well, that includes the time after I returned from Ossineke, too.

It’s mid to late spring around here, a transitional time, and the photos that I post will reflect that. The spring bird migration is all but over with, and soon, there will be just the same old summer resident birds to photograph around here. However, there are new flowers and insects appearing daily, some lasting just a few days, some linger throughout the summer.

As spring gives way to summer, I’ll be posting fewer images of birds, and more images of flowers and insects. I’ve been going through the hundreds of photos that I have taken around here this past week and deleting a good many photos of birds, so hopefully, I won’t be boring every one with dozens of images of the same species of birds over and over. I can’t say that I won’t do that with flowers now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s a great time to be living in southern Michigan right now, the lilacs, honeysuckle, and some members of the viburnum family are in bloom, filling the air with their wonderful fragrances! Soon, they will give way to wild roses, and other equally fragrant blooms.

I’ve been trying to use the Tokina 100 mm macro lens more often, but I’ve been thwarted by the wind on most days. We’ve had swings in the high temperatures of almost 40 degrees up and down over the past two weeks, and the only way that air masses can change that quickly is with stiff winds moving them in and out. The forecast is for a week of fairly stable weather for the next week, so maybe I get more chances to use that lens. The 300 mm prime lens does a superb job on flowers, but I often have to crop more than I would like to get the desired results. And, because I have to be five feet from my subject, it limits how I can compose my photos.

I suppose I should do a fewย housekeeping chores here. I have enough photos for three posts from around home, and two from the days that I went to Muskegon. I also have 280 images that I shot while in the Ossineke area, but that number will be cut down dramatically as I go through them more. There’s a lot of bad shots of eagles and sunsets in that number, along with multiple images of the same species of birds, especially the Lifers that I saw, along with the better photos for posts that I’ve already done in the My Photo Life List project.

And speaking of that, I’ve had a fairly good spring as far as adding to the number of saved photos for use in future posts in that series. I’m closing in on 200 species of birds, and with any luck, I’ll go over 200 by the time that the next winter arrives. I did two posts a week in that series while I was on vacation, I may skip this week, then go back to one a week from then on.

I’ll still have to photograph birds, especially the smaller ones, as it takes practice to find them in the brush, and time when to press the shutter release. I think that this series of photos that I wouldn’t normally post if I had gotten a good one will show. That means the that the images in this post will be out of order, but so be it.

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

Wilson's warbler launching

Wilson’s warbler launching

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

I’d like to promise that those are the last bad photos that you’ll see here, but I won’t make promises that I know that I can’t keep. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There should be plenty of other subjects to shoot, and plenty of days with sunny weather, so that I won’t have to try to photograph birds in low light unless I see something special from now on.

Although, there are a few photos that I shot while it was raining on day that I would like to share, as just like trying to catch small birds on the move, one has to stay in practice shooting in poor conditions.

Palm warbler in the rain

Palm warbler in the rain

Hermit thrush in the rain

Hermit thrush in the rain

Momma mallard sounding the alarm

Momma mallard sounding the alarm

A mass of miniature mallards

A mass of miniature mallards

Okay, I’ve said before that I want to move towards quality over quantity, and I’ve been trying to do that. I now have a great deal of confidence in my photo equipment, enough to know that I can pull off almost any shot if I have to. But, there’s another change taking place as well, my confidence as a birder is growing as well.

I’ve only been serious about identifying birds for a little over two years now, some of the species are very hard to ID. I’ve now seen my name attached to several rare bird alerts from eBird, which for some reason, has helped me gain confidence. It turns out that birds that I thought were rare are really quite commonplace, and every time that I see one, it gets easier to ID them. And, it isn’t just by how they look, it’s also how they act, and their songs, which makes the entire process of picking which birds to try to photograph even easier as I go along.

Over the last two years, I’ve learned where to go and when, and I’ve also learned that given how much time I spend outdoors, I am going to get the birds eventually. These last two weeks has been a huge leap for me as far as birding as well.ย I was able to get very good photos of two northern parulas in just 4 days, and they are supposed to be tough to get. Here’s one from on my trip.

Northern parula

Northern parula

But, I don’t want to go off on a tangent right now, so back to the photos from around home.

First year male Baltimore oriole

First year male Baltimore oriole

Male house finch singing

Male house finch singing

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch singing

Male house finch singing

Flowering tree

Flowering tree

Flowering crab

Flowering crab

With a couple of images of flowers, it seems like a good time to throw in the few that I shot with the Tokina macro lens.

Tulip

Tulip

Wild strawberry

Wild strawberry

Apple blossom

Apple blossom

Dandelion

Dandelion

And now, a few flowers shot with the 300 mm prime lens.

Tulip

Tulip

Redbud

Redbud

Redbud and fly

Redbud and fly

Lilac

Lilac

Lily of the valley

Lily of the valley

Flowering crab

Flowering crab

Flowering crab

Flowering crab

If only everyday could be like this one in the next photo was!

Creekside Park

Creekside Park

Creekside Park

Creekside Park

The last two were taken with the 15-85 mm lens, and I still would like an even wider lens. That hit home while I was shooting landscapes up north. I know that I said that I wanted a Sigma 10 to whatever it was lens, and I may still end up with one. However, Canon has just introduced a EF S 10-16 mm lens at a reasonable price, around $300. But, wasn’t available yet the last time I was at the camera store. I’m in no hurry, I’ll wait for the reviews to come out, then see what the true cost will be. I know that the lens hood is extra, so the Canon lens may not be that much cheaper than the Sigma I had been looking at. But, that’s another post, someday down the road. Back to the photos.

A few of birds all fluffed up to ward off the cold last week.

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

Grey catbird

Grey catbird

I know that I just inserted a catbird image, and that the next one is blurry, that’s because a catbird had picked up a leaf and was waving it around wildly, the second time that I have seen them do that.

Grey catbird waving a leaf

Grey catbird waving a leaf

I don’t know if leaf waving is part of their courtship display, of if they do that to prevent us from getting a good photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, the one in the photo above paused to take a look around after the leaf waving.

Grey catbird waving a leaf

Grey catbird waving a leaf

No matter what the reason, this red squirrel that was watching me watching the catbird, thought the entire thing was quite funny, especially since he was partially hidden from me as well.

Laughing red squirrel

Laughing red squirrel

Well, I think that I’ve gone on long enough for this one.

I have plenty more photos to go, and most of them were taken on much nicer days than what the photos in this post were, including some images of tulips that I am quite proud of.

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

 

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24 responses

  1. It is such a treat to scroll through your post, wonderful pictures of such varied subjects.

    May 27, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    • Thank you Susan!

      May 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

  2. Just stunning photos…loved the Catbird waving the leaf, maybe he’s surrendering๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. I agree that Mr. Squirrel looks like he’s having a good chuckle at all the activity๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ™‹

    May 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    • Thank you Barb, the squirrel was having a good laugh at my expense.

      May 28, 2014 at 2:53 am

      • ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ™‹

        May 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  3. Love your Northern Parula! It’s a bird that has eluded us, heard but not photographed, this spring. A few weeks back I posted a pic of an Eastern Towhee where not much more than an eye was visible. Sometimes it’s about the quest!

    May 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    • Thanks Bob! Sometimes I think that my birding has been too easy so far, and that I’ll pay for that later.

      May 28, 2014 at 2:55 am

  4. You might not want to hear this but I think your close ups with the long lens are every bit as good as those you took with the macro lens. It’s amazing to think that you got a shot of a fly with a 300mm lens.
    I’ve had birds fly down beside me and kick leaves around but I’ve never had one wave one at me. No wonder the squirrel was laughing!

    May 27, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    • Thanks Allen! I purchased the 300 mm prime for its close focusing capabilities. Some people use that lens with extension tubes as a macro lens. With the 1.4 extender, it’s a 420 mm lens that focuses as close as 5 feet, making it a very good near macro lens. And, since that lens cost nearly 4 times what the Tokina lens cost, it should deliver some good photos. Where the Tokina will work better is on the very small flowers that I haven’t tried it on yet, maybe this week.

      It was interesting to see the catbird waving leaves, that’s the second time this year, and each time there was another catbird nearby. I would assume either a possible mate or a rival, and that waving a leaf is part of the mating ritual or claiming a territory.

      May 28, 2014 at 3:02 am

  5. avian101

    Nice blogging and pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      May 28, 2014 at 2:55 am

  6. Great shot of the fly. Maybe I just need to practise more and I won’t need a macro lens.
    You are certainly taking a fine range of pictures at the moment. I really enjoyed yuor flowers.

    May 27, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I used a 1.4 X tele-converter with the 300 mm lens. A tele-converter doesn’t affect a lens’ close focusing abilities, so you may want to give that option some thought over a macro lens unless you want to photograph tiny flowers and insects.

      May 28, 2014 at 3:05 am

  7. Ahhh… one of my favorites: Lily of the valley… I remember them growing wild all over the east coast, but have never seen them out here. I ordered some pips years ago and they didn’t seem to do really well (probably because a huge fern decided to move in and I had trouble subduing it). Then I dug up a few scrawny pips to transplant here at the new house. It ONLY took four years, but they finally seem to be taking hold. Hoorah!

    Loved the laughing squirrel and I agree… your flowers with the 300mm prime seem to be every bit as good as with the macro.

    May 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    • Thank you! Maybe I’ll climb the fence that prevents me from getting close to the lily of the valley to see if I can get some better photos. Then you can show the photos to your plants to show them what they are supposed to look like. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’ve got a lens problem, too many really good ones, it’s hard to decide which to use. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      May 28, 2014 at 3:08 am

  8. Love the drama of the dark background in the first photo you labeled Flowering Tree. Seeing the shadow of the stamen is quite impressive. I have hundreds of Lily of the Valley in my backyard if you need a crop to photograph. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    May 28, 2014 at 7:15 am

    • Thanks Judy! There are more flowers around here than I’ll be able to photograph, but thanks for the offer!

      May 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

  9. Please don’t stop posting bird photos – I adore them all!!! I never get bored, even if you post cardinals and chickadees every day! ๐Ÿ™‚

    That blooming crab is phenomenal, a real eye-popper!!

    And baby ducks – SQUEE!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    May 28, 2014 at 11:13 am

    • Thanks Amy! I’ll still be posting photos of birds, when I get very good ones, or catch them in action, but flowers will be the stars of the show for a while. They’re only around for short time.

      May 28, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      • Hopefully I will learn some things from your macro and flower shots so I can improve in that area. I do love beautiful flowers, almost as much as beautiful birds. ๐Ÿ™‚

        May 28, 2014 at 2:33 pm

  10. So many lovely warblers around your area! U r so lucky!

    May 29, 2014 at 8:48 am

    • Thank you, yes, I am!

      May 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

  11. Flower photos all good and I do love seeing all the different birds you have in Michigan. The catbird waving the leaf is really interesting!

    June 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    • Thank you Clare! I never know what I’m going to catch a bird doing next.

      June 5, 2014 at 2:42 am