Catching up after my vacation, Part I
It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been back to work for two weeks after my vacation. I’ve kept busy taking photos since I’ve been back, maybe too busy.
To begin with, since I’ve forgotten to add this up til now, there was still some ice left on Lake Superior into the first week of June. The Lake Michigan water temperature at the southern mid-lake buoy is just 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3 C), although the water is warmer than that near the beaches. All of the Great Lakes have continued to rise at a rapid rate this spring as a result of the run-off from the heavier than average snowfall over the winter. Some areas in the upper peninsula of Michigan received nearly 30 feet of snow this past winter, which puts the 11 feet that we got here in Grand Rapids to shame.
The spring bird migration is over for the most part, there’s still a few stragglers passing through. As I go for my daily walks now, there’s just a few species of summer residents around, robins, starlings, red-winged blackbirds, and so on, along with the year-round residents. All of them are busy building nests and raising their young, so I leave them be for now, there’s little reason for me to bother them.
The late spring wildflowers have come and gone also. But, there are more summer flowers blooming every day now, as we transition into summer. I have found one good thing about posting from behind, it gives me several opportunities to get a good photo of a species of flower and delete the photos that don’t make the grade. That is, if the flowers continue to bloom long enough. There have been a few that have only lasted a day or two.
I have been trying to use the Tokina macro lens more often, with very limited success. It’s not the fault of the lens, it’s that I haven’t learned the finer points of macro photography yet. I’ve been trying to wait for days when the light is good and there is very little wind, but those days are few and far between. So far, my attempts to time wind gusts have failed, and I’ve ended up with blurry photos due to the wind and long shutter speeds.
My natural inclination is get it right, right now, but my more reasonable side has kicked in. It won’t be an earth-shattering failure on my part if I don’t pick up macro photography right this instant. As long as I learn as I go, so what if it takes me a year or two to really master a very tricky type of photography. That, and the new 300 mm L series lens does a more than adequate job on flowers and larger insects.
There’s more that I would like to ramble on about, but I have two weeks worth of photos that I haven’t posted yet, and if I were to type out all of my thoughts, I’d never get caught up. But, there are two related things that I must say.
One, is that the number and variety of songbirds that I’m seeing in the park that I walk everyday is way down from last year. No meadowlarks, bluebirds, or Savannah sparrows have nested here this year at all, and the numbers of orioles, grosbeaks, and other species is down from last year, when they seemed to be everywhere. This year, there’s just a few.
Since this is just my second year here, I’m not sure why that is. It could be a cycle, since there were so many last year, they may have spread out more this year.
Secondly, I’ve been seeing very few great blue herons anyplace that I go, and that includes up north, the Muskegon area, and all the other marshes and lakes that I’ve been to this year. I’ve seen a few, but they have become a rare sighting this year, and I have no idea why that is.
So with that said, it’s time for some photos.
I’m not sure if the flower in the next photo is lilac or not. It looked somewhat like lilac, and it had the same wonderful scent, but it doesn’t look exactly like the other lilac bushes around here.
Here’s a flower that I’m sure of, a may-apple.
I spotted these flowers growing in the shade on a cloudy day.
The next few days were sunny, but very windy, so I didn’t bring the macro lens and tripod with me, but I shot a few photos of the flower above with the 300 mm lens, hoping for a good one. It was hard to find one of the flowers in the sun, and if I did, it was white, not the pale blue that you can see in the flowers above.
By the time that we had a sunny day with little wind, the flowers were past their prime, and beginning to turn brown, so I won’t post the images from my macro set-up. But, that’s what I get for waiting. The flowers may not be wildflowers, they could be “escapees”. The trail where I saw the flowers runs next to the farm market that I shop at when they are open. In the spring and summer, the farm market also doubles as a garden center. I often find flowers that aren’t wild growing in the area because the flowers have escaped from the market one way or another.
Early in my walk one morning, I spotted a flicker looking for ants in the grass in the apartment complex.
At the same time as I was trying to get closer to the flicker, a pair of geese were approaching it from the other side. The poor flicker wasn’t sure whether the geese or myself presented the greatest threat.
The flicker decided that it was better off looking for less crowded places to look for food.
I shot this bird’s foot trefoil with the 300 mm lens.
And this photo came from the Tokina 100 mm macro lens.
The first photo was cropped considerably, the second one not at all.
Here’s another oddity, I’m not sure what this is. The cane which this growth had sprouted from looked like a typical thorny plant like a blackberry or bramble, but the leaves don’t look like they should.
I wonder if the growth that I saw is due to something like witch’s broom or something similar. All the other canes that had been growing from the same roots seem to be dead, and the same growth pattern seen in the photo continues, I’ll shoot an update photo soon.
Here’s a few images that need no other explanation other than the captions.
I have one or two more posts worth of photos to use up, including images like these.
But, those posts will have to wait a day or two.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!