Catching up, trips to Lost and Reed’s Lakes
Before I get started on the subjects of this post, the other day, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology posted a short video clip about a grey catbird’s ability to mimic the sounds of other birds. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ll know that catbirds and brown thrashers are two of my favorite species of birds, for the way that they take snippets of the songs of other species of birds and blend those snippets into a symphony of bird songs.
So, I’m going to try something new for me, I’ll try to put the video clip in my blog for every one to check out.
I hope that it works!
Okay, about my trips to the two lakes that I made since I’ve been back from vacation, and trying to catch up with my postings.
It was quite warm a few Sundays ago, so since my favorite naturally air-conditioned spot is Lost Lake, I thought that a day there was in order. Anywhere along the shore of any Great Lakes is ten to twenty degrees cooler than just a few miles inland this time of the year. The water temperature of Lake Michigan is still only in the upper thirties, so any breeze off the lake is nice and cool!
I picked Lost Lake, as it is not only cool, but there are many rare plants growing around it. I was a week or two too early, so I didn’t find many plants to photograph. I found even fewer birds, this great blue heron is my only bird photo from around the lake.
I did shoot a few landscapes, just for the greenery.
If there’s water around in the summer, there’s probably dragonflies around to shoot.
I had taken my macro lens and tripod along in anticipation of shooting flowers and plants, but I forgot to bring the LED light that I use for macro photography with me, so these aren’t very good. I shouldn’t even post them, but I worked my butt off trying to get these as I fought a stiff wind blowing the flowers around!
I meant to tip the flower of the pitcher plant back to get a photo of the underside, but some other people came along about that time. I had all my photo gear sitting on the observation deck overlooking the lake, and didn’t think it wise to leave it there unattended. It probably would have been okay there, the people were birders, and we struck up a conversation, and by the time that they left, I had forgotten about the pitcher plant, darn!
Here’s a few of the other things that I found.
Although I didn’t get many photos, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day there, spending a lot of time relaxing on the observation deck.
When I did decide to leave, I swung over to the Muskegon Lake channel to see if there was anything there worth photographing, nothing as far as wildlife, other than a few mallards and mute swans, and I’ve posted enough photos of them for a while. I did try out my new lens on the Milwaukee Clipper though.
SS Milwaukee Clipper, also known as SS Clipper , and formerly as SS Juniata, is a retired passenger ship and automobile ferry that sailed under two configurations and traveled on all of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario. Milwaukee Clipper is the only US passenger steamship left on the Great Lakes.
Her story begins on 22 December 1904, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the shipyards of the American Shipbuilding Company. Christened Juniata when launched, she was built for the Anchor Line, the Great Lakes marine division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Her sister ships are the SS Tionesta and SS Octorara.
The ship is 361 feet (110 m) in length, 45 feet (14 m) in beam, a depth of 22 feet (6.7 m), with a gross tonnage of 4333 tons. She carried 350 passengers in staterooms at 18 knots. As originally built, she had a riveted steel hull and a magnificent wooden superstructure. For the Pennsylvania Railroad, she carried passengers and freight between Buffalo, New York and Duluth, Minnesota until 1915.
That year, the anti-monopoly Panama Canal Act, which forbade railroads from owning steamships, went into effect. Divesting its marine divisions, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold its Anchor Line along with four other railroad-owned company fleets, to the newly formed Great Lakes Transit Corporation. Under this flag, she carried passengers along her old routes for another 20 seasons. Juniata was laid up in 1937 after the closing of the Chicago World’s Fair.
The Juniata sat idle in Buffalo until being sold in 1940 to be rebuilt and used as a passenger ship on Lake Michigan. Juniata was extensively modernized at the yard of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. Her boilers upgraded from coal to run on fuel oil, but she retained her original quadruple expansion steam engine. The old cabins and wooden superstructure were removed and replaced with steel to meet the new maritime fire safety standards created after the disastrous SS Morro Castle fire off Asbury Park, New Jersey in 1934. The streamlined forward stack is false and does not ventilate engine exhaust. It is a signature of naval architect George Sharp, whose ideas regarding fireproof ships were first incorporated into Juniata. This stack became standard on many new ships that were to come. Sharp is credited with three historic vessels, Milwaukee Clipper, SS Lane Victory, and NS Savannah.
The modernized ship featured air-conditioned staterooms, a children’s playroom, a movie theater, a dance floor with a live band, a soda fountain, bar, cafeteria known for its cuisine, lounges and sports deck, and capacity to carry 120 automobiles. On June 3, 1941, she made her maiden voyage from Milwaukee to Muskegon. As Milwaukee Clipper, she steamed between Muskegon and Milwaukee, as well as excursions throughout Lake Michigan visiting various other ports, for 29 seasons. She was also called the “Queen of the Great Lakes” and carried around 900 passengers and 120 automobiles in the summer. The amount of oil used varied per round trip, but was approximately 5,500 US gallons (21,000 l; 4,600 imp gal). On week days she made two round trips that took 7 hours each way, using three of the four boilers. On weekends, she made three, six-hour round trips on all four boilers. The crew lists were between 105 and 109, with around 55 of them in the steward’s department alone to take care of the 900 or so passengers on board. There are stories from former crew members about how they would “lose count” as to how many were actually on board. If you were there, apparently you did not get turned away. The cost per person in the 1950s was $3.33 and $8.00 extra for an automobile, with an extra 75 cents charged to travel in the forward Club Lounge and to use the forward deck.
After shooting a photo of the old “Queen of the Great Lakes”, I turned around to see the modern version coming into the Muskegon harbor.
And, I shot this one because it showed what a nice day that it was.
Last Sunday, after getting yet another rare bird alert from eBird about a species of bird that I would like to photograph having been seen there, I decided to bite the bullet and go to Reed’s Lake.
Reed’s Lake is in East Grand Rapids, a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It isn’t far from where I live, but I try to avoid that area as much as I can. No, it’s not the bad part of town, just the opposite, East Grand Rapids is an affluent area. However, the roads there are the pits, in both the way they’re laid out, and their condition. I think the residents prefer it that way to keep the scum (like me) out. 😉
Reed’s Lake used to be the home of Ramona Park, a trolley park much like Coney Island, but on a much smaller scale. Reeds Lake is also the home of the Grand Rapids Yacht Club, so it’s a busy lake, especially on weekends.
So despite all the negatives, I decided to check the area out considering how many rare bird alerts come from there.
I had just parked my Forester, and was walking into the park when an osprey flew over me, and out over the lake.
That was kind of cool! I had heard that both eagles and osprey are seen regularly there, but I never saw an eagle, or one of the black terns that had been reported there, and were the reason for my visit there. I did see lots of tree swallows though.
And there were dragonflies.
As well as a beautiful damselfly.
I had been watching a pair of tree swallows bringing insects back to their young, which were in a hollow tree.
Every time I had seen the male enter the nest, he had come back out head first. So, I held the camera on the opening in the tree to catch him exiting the nest, and he came out butt first.
At least I was able to get a so-so shot of him taking off.
The female was watching all this happen.
An eastern kingbird was also doing its part to reduce the insect population.
It turns out that there is an extensive system of trails on one end of Reed’s Lake, that also runs to nearby Fisk Lake. But, I hadn’t put insect repellent on, so I did only a very short segment of the trail, in woods so thick that it was almost as dark as night there along the trail. Because of the very low light, these next photos are poor, but good enough for this post.
After killing several thousand skeeters, I left the woods, and got back out into the sunlight for these.
I’ve done this before, and the results aren’t as dramatic here as they are on my computer, but I never learn, so I’m going to try again. A wild iris, with just a small shaft of sunlight hitting it, and I went down 1/3 of a stop for each image. I like them all, but I would like to put the background from the third image behind the iris in the first two, to see how that would look.
Just a few more to go, starting with a cedar waxwing gathering fluff for its nest.
A tree swallow in flight.
An eastern box turtle wandering by.
And finally, a song sparrow gathering a beak full of bugs to take back to its young.
I’m almost caught up now in posting, so hopefully I won’t be posting as often as I have been. It’s also late on a Saturday night, after I spent a good deal of the day wandering around the local park, shooting more photos of flowers, so I’m about out of gas. I’m returning to Lost Lake tomorrow, hopefully there will be more flowers in bloom this time, including some of the orchids.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!