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

Spring vacation, Alpena, Day 4

Warning! Too many photos ahead!

This post will hold a few photos that I had leftover from the previous day, the subjects are the same, but the photos from the day before were better.

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.

Finally, after two cloudy sunrises, I got a good one!

Sunrise over Lake Huron

Sunrise over Lake Huron

Walking back to my campsite for coffee, I noticed this red pine in the morning sun.

Morning glow

Morning glow

This was Saturday morning, and while I had the campground to myself the first night, and almost to myself the second night, by Friday evening, it had practically filled up. With all the other campers there, I saw fewer warblers that morning while I was drinking my coffee, and no species that I don’t have good photos of already.

So, after finishing my coffee, I set off down the beach for my morning walk. I had just gotten started when I noticed a young male Baltimore oriole perched in the top of one of the pines. It was really too far away for a good photo, but it made a good subject for me to check out the exposure settings that early in the morning.

First year male Baltimore oriole

First year male Baltimore oriole

I had just lowered the camera, when the oriole took off and started flying across an opening in the pines. I was kicking myself for not trying to get a photo of it, but if I had tried, I would have missed what happened next.

A small brown streak came up from behind and above the oriole, the oriole saw the brown streak approaching, and took evasive action, causing the brown streak to miss. The brown streak slowed down, and landed in one of the pines, it was a peregrine falcon!

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

I can’t claim to be an expert on falcons, but this must have been a younger one, as it looked much smaller than the few that I have seen in the past, including the one that I posted this photo of earlier.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

Anyway, the young falcon didn’t stick around for me to try to get closer, it went streaking off in search of breakfast.

Peregrine falcon taking off

Peregrine falcon taking off

There’s a story behind this next photo also. When I was there last year, there was a great egret that would not let me get close enough to it for a good photo. There had been an egret hunting the same marshes again this year, I think that it’s the same egret as the year before, as I couldn’t get closer than 100 feet no matter how carefully I stalked the egret.

On this morning, I saw the egret flying straight at me as I was partially hidden in the willows that ring the marshes. I got the camera on the egret, got the auto-focus tracking it, and was waiting for the egret to get closer, when it spotted me.

Great egret practicing acrobatic flight

Great egret practicing acrobatic flight

I had just watched the oriole elude the falcon, but the turn that the egret made was every bit as good of flying as the oriole had done, I didn’t know that such a large bird could fly like that! Luckily, my finger pressed the shutter release out of instinct, and I captured the turn forever. The egret’s wings and body were already making the turn, its head and feet were slung out towards me due to centrifugal force. I wonder if egrets can suffer whiplash or G-force blackouts? This one had to be coming close if they do. Of course I shot a few more photos, but the egret’s butt isn’t that interesting. πŸ˜‰

When I got down to the point, there were two young eagles there, and to my surprise,Β Β these two hung around for a minute or two, so I have bad photos of stationary eagles rather than bad photos of flying eagles. πŸ˜‰

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

I thought for sure that when this one looked straight at me that the jig was up, but the eagle sat there a few seconds longer. If you look closely, in the grass in front of the eagle is its breakfast, a carp.

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Juvenile bald eagle

Coming up next are a series of images of shorebirds that I shot over the last two days I was up there. Since a few of them are actually quite good, I should note that they were all shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens).

I should also note that identifying shorebirds is much easier in the spring when they are in breeding plumage than it is in the fall, when they tend to all look-alike.

Killdeer

Killdeer

Killdeer and spotted sandpiper

Killdeer and spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

Spotted sandpiper

I should also note that with every one of the shorebirds that I see after I have learned that species a little bit makes it much easier to ID them quicker from then on. Not to brag, but photos like the last one really help also.

At the other extreme as far as photos are these dunlins.

Dunlins

Dunlins

Dunlins

Dunlins

Those two images are there to show you how many there were, as these next two photos are.

 

Dunlins in flight

Dunlins in flight

Dunlins in flight

Dunlins in flight

Now then, back to some better photos. I saw a semi-palmated plover and two least sandpipers together, they were a bit far away, but I didn’t know how close I could get to them without spooking them.

Semi-palmated plover and least sandpipers

Semi-palmated plover and least sandpipers

A third least sandpiper came along and began herding the others straight towards me.

My "helper" herding the other birds to me

My “helper” herding the other birds to me

My "helper" herding the other birds to me

My “helper” herding the other birds to me

They kept getting closer, until they were just a few feet away.

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

Least sandpiper

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

Semi-palmated plover

I’ve managed a few photos of killdeer as good as this one…

Killdeer

Killdeer

But I think that this next one is my best ever!

Killdeer

Killdeer

And, to wrap up the photos, a common bird almost everywhere, a red-winged blackbird.

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

And with it turning into afternoon, I decided that it was a good time to pack up and head for home to avoid the holiday traffic on the way back. It took all of ten minutes to clean and pack my tent/cot, and I should also say that with better weather, it performed much better than when I had three straight days of rainy weather.

The tent/cot does what I want it to do, it goes up and comes down quickly, it’s much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, and once I learned to control the condensation, I’m very happy with it. It’s a bit of a pain to get in and out of it, and to undress or dress inside of it, but overall, it works well. Yes, I was a happy camper!

I still have photos from Muskegon while I was on vacation that will take at least one post, and a bunch from around home since I’ve been back as well, but it may be a day or two before I get the photos sorted.

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

Advertisements

32 responses

  1. Wow! Mind-blowing photos!!
    Amazing!
    πŸ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    • Thanks! My photos are good, but not that good.

      June 4, 2014 at 2:53 am

      • You’re kidding! Right….?
        They are damn good! πŸ™‚

        June 4, 2014 at 6:22 am

      • Thanks, I settle for that. I see photos every bit as good or better than mine on a daily basis, some taken with point and shoot cameras.

        June 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

  2. Some fantastic bird shots for sure! Giggles at picturing you dressing inside the tent/cot! Bet it’s good exercise pulling that off! πŸ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    • Thank you! It isn’t too bad trying to get dressed in the tent/cot, but it’s one of those times when I wish that I wasn’t a giant.

      June 4, 2014 at 2:57 am

  3. Gorgeous sunrise! And also that shot of the pines with the sunrise glow on them. You’re right, that killdeer shot is a wonder!! But I think the semi-palmated plover is my favorite. Loved the story about the egret. πŸ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    • Thanks Amy! The plover is cuter than the killdeer, but I was going by the technical aspects of the killdeer photo. The joke was on the egret, it managed to outwit me in getting a photo of it standing in the marsh, but instead, I got a much more interesting shot of it as it tried to avoid my camera.

      June 4, 2014 at 3:00 am

  4. Great series of posts. I love the Semi-Palmated shots, especially the one with his head tilted to the side. Such personality!

    June 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    • Thanks Judy! The real star was the sandpiper that herded the plover towards me.

      June 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    • Thanks, he is a cute little thing!

      June 4, 2014 at 3:00 am

  5. Wonderful sunrise, equally wonderful egret in flight, you are clever.

    June 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    • Thanks Susan!

      June 4, 2014 at 3:01 am

  6. You got some amazing shots of all of these birds, I thought. It’s interesting for me to see them together so I can see the difference in size.
    With sunrises like that one to see I’m surprised you came back!

    June 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    • Thanks Allen! I normally try to get just one bird or one species at a time for identification purposes, but it is informative to see several species together to give people a better idea on how large or small each species is.

      I didn’t want to come back, believe me, but I do have to work in order to pay for my camera gear.

      June 4, 2014 at 3:05 am

  7. What a treat from start to finish.

    June 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      June 4, 2014 at 3:01 am

  8. Fantastic shots! I’m so impressed by your ability to capture all the different types of birds. Nicely done. πŸ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    • Thank you! Getting so many species is easy if you know where to go.

      June 4, 2014 at 3:02 am

  9. Another wonderful selection of photos. I think you must have been lying in the mud with the sandpipers and plovers! Love the shot of the egret and your description.

    June 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    • Thank you! I don’t get down in the mud for birds, but sometimes I have to for flowers. πŸ˜‰

      June 5, 2014 at 2:41 am

  10. Nice shots again. Sunrise lovely and the wading birds good – the dunlins in flight I like very much especially the first silhouette one. Why is it called a least sandpiper?

    June 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    • Thanks! I believe that the least sandpiper is called that because it is the smallest species of sandpiper, not much larger than a sparrow.

      June 5, 2014 at 2:44 am

      • Thank-you! That really is small.

        June 5, 2014 at 4:43 am

  11. Lovely, lovely egret in flight, well done, and what a treat for you to see the “brown streak” aka Peregrine Falcon in the wild.

    June 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    • Thank you! Almost all of my photos are taken in the wild. I did go to a raptor rehab center once, just to get a better idea of what the birds I was looking for looked like. The photos from the post I did on that place are the only ones that haven’t been of wild birds in action. I’m very fortunate, I’ve seen the nesting pair of peregrines there several times, and they have posed for me. So, I was hoping that the brown streak from this post was a merlin. I’ve seen them, but have never gotten a photo of one, yet.

      June 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      • I remember your raptor rehab post, now that you mention it. Same for me, one visit with the rehabbed birds, which is the only place I’ve seen a peregrine and a kestrel. Never seen a Merlin, so I’m looking forward to when you find and photograph one!

        June 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      • I’ve found merlins, but haven’t managed a photo of them yet.

        June 7, 2014 at 1:39 am

  12. Still turning over the mental image of you kicking birds out of your way. Great shots, as always.

    June 7, 2014 at 7:35 am

    • Thanks again Judy! I’d never knowingly kick a bird out of my way, but it isn’t unusual for there to be small birds on the ground within a few feet of me while I’m shooting birds overhead.

      June 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

      • I just liked the image of you seeing so many birds (that seem to be invisible to many of us) that you have to move some of the common ones away to get at the over you really want to photograph. It was a great visual picture.

        June 7, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      • Thanks! I may not have to move birds, but sometimes the common ones distract me from other species that I would rather photograph.

        June 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm