Spring vacation, Alpena, Day 3
Warning! Too many photos ahead!
Also, I’m going to cheat and post some photos from this day in the next post, otherwise, I’d have to split this day into two posts to keep its length reasonable. The subjects were the same, so what day I shot them really doesn’t matter.
Also, this post will continue on with the rather whimsical notion that I have to kick the birds and other wildlife out of my way as I walk along. I’ll be posting some poor photos that I otherwise wouldn’t, but I hope that they give you an idea on the number of birds that I was seeing.
The “sunrise” on day three was much like the previous day, cloudy and gloomy, with a stiff northeast wind. Once again, as I was drinking my coffee, waves of warblers passed through my campsite. But once again, they stayed back in the trees and out of sight most of the time.
After finishing my coffee, I set off down the beach again, this time I was able to sneak up on an eagle.
Of course as soon as it spotted me, it was off.
A few steps farther on, and I popped out of the brush to where I had a view of the bay to the south of the campground, and there were five or six eagles on the sand bars in the bay. I couldn’t get an accurate count, the eagles spotted me as soon as I spotted them, and they all took flight, so here are the bad photos I shot as I tried and failed to get at least one photo of each eagle.
For almost a minute, I was twisting and turning, trying to follow the eagles as they split up and went off in different directions.
While I’m posting bad photos, I may as well get these two “for the record” photos out of the way. Here’s the two adult eagles near their nest.
And this image of a huge flock of unidentified songbirds passing over me.
There were birds everywhere, even on the ground near my feet, if I looked closely enough. See if you can spot the bird in this photo.
If I hadn’t seen them move once in a while, I would have spooked the larks for sure, but I did manage to catch one where it is easily seen.
Looking back at where the eagles had been on the sandbar, the gulls and a crow where arriving to finish off the meal that the eagles had to leave behind when I spooked them.
I spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon walking down the beach to the end of the campground, then walking back to my campsite by going through the woods. Here are the photos that I shot.
If you look closely at the last photo, you’ll see herring gulls, ring-billed gulls, Caspian terns, and a few unidentified shorebirds. There also looks to be two or three dark headed gulls which would have been lifers for me if I could have gotten photos good enough to make a positive ID.
By the way, all the photos of birds from this day were shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). At one point I went back to my campsite and picked up my tripod and the 1.4 X extender to try to get better photos of the birds in the photo above, but that didn’t work out, the birds were too far away for a quality photo no matter what gear I may have used.
One thing that I thought that I wanted to do on my vacation was just relax, so I took my camp chair and camera out on the beach to just sit and enjoy the day. Even though I dozed off a few times, that only lasted an hour or two, and I was ready for some more serious birding.
So, I drove around Thunder Bay, to Isaacson’s Bay, a smaller bay on the northern shore of Thunder Bay. Once again, the higher water levels of Lake Huron had changed the bay completely.
All the lighter areas in the water were sandbars above the water last spring. Once again, I wished that I had brought my kayak this year.
It wasn’t long before I saw a bird worth photographing, a great egret.
A few steps farther, and a spotted a colony of endangered dwarf lake iris. They only grow in a few places around the Great Lakes, and mostly in Michigan. A few are found in northern Wisconsin and southern Ontario. So, I went back and got my tripod, other camera body, and macro lens and shot these.
There must be a trick to getting good photos of these flowers, this is my second year of trying, and my second year of failing. I can’t seem to get the yellow parts of the petals to look as if they are in focus, even though all the rest of the flower looks good. I’ll try again, maybe next year.
Here’s a few more bird images that I shot there along Isaacson’s Bay.
The last one, of the northern harrier, I shot while standing where I had parked after returning to my vehicle. I had struck up a conversation with another birder, “Big Joe” from Roger’s City, a few miles north of Alpena. He was there to do a bird census, and we chatted while we counted and photographed birds flying over or around us.
It turns out that Joe knows some of the birders from the Muskegon area that I run into from time to time, so we had a very long conversation, discussing birds, photo gear, other birders, and field guides.
After Joe left, it was still early enough that I went around part of the bay again, pausing to catch the late afternoon light.
I could see flocks of shorebirds in the distance, but never got close to any. My second round was worth it though, for these images.
I worked my way closer to the cranes.
I was hoping that the male was preparing to do his mating dance, but I had no luck there, and the female crane didn’t look very impressed by his display from the looks of her.
I could post a few more photos of the cranes and the egret together, but I won’t, other than this photo which I zoomed out for in order to get the mute swan in the frame as well as the cranes and egret.
Returning to the campground, I took another walk down the beach for these.
I don’t know what species of moss that it really is, I called it fire moss because of how it lit up under the setting sun.
So, that wraps up another day.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!