Lane’s Landing, Muskegon, taunted by hummers
The Sunday before last was hot and humid, so I left early for a birding trip to the Muskegon area, starting at Lane’s Landing. Lane’s Landing is within the Muskegon State Game Area, and it has become one of my favorites places for birding.
Almost as soon as I had finished showering in insect repellent, I found this song sparrow to warm up the camera, Beast (Sigma 150 -500 mm lens), and myself. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always seem to get better photos if I shoot a few right away after I’ve turned the camera on. I have no idea why that would be, maybe it’s just one of my superstitions, but I’ve gotten to the point where I always shoot a few photos as soon as I turn the camera on, even if I just turn around and delete them. Anyway, here’s the sparrow.
I hadn’t taken more than a few steps down the trail when I spotted a male ruby-throated hummingbird.
You can tell it was a male by the spot of red on its neck. I’d love to get a really good photo of one of the males, that wasn’t it, and neither were these.
The little bugger was really out of the range of even the Beast, but you can see he was sticking his tongue out. In fact, he seemed to be having a lot of fun taunting me.
The females and juvenile hummers will pose nicely for me.
But not the males, here’s another one teasing me.
I should do what most people do to get the really good photos of hummers, put up a feeder for them, and wait for them to show up. Then, I may even get a good photo of one in fight, rather than this lame attempt.
But, I’m a pig-headed fool that would rather track down “wild” hummingbirds in their natural habitat and shoot poor photos of them.
That’s why I’ll never be one of the famous nature photographers, although, I’m not sure that the really famous ones should be called nature photographers any longer. A good many of them shoot most of their photos in zoo-like parks, places where guides have built blinds near nests, or bait animals to come close to pre-built blinds. Doing those things may result in great photos, but I’m not sure that it qualifies as nature photography, it’s more like shooting models in a controlled environment where the photographer doesn’t need any outdoor skills to speak of, and seldom has to deal with poor lighting, as the blinds are placed in advance in spots where the lighting will be as good as it gets.
Oh well, before I get started on a really long rant on that subject, here’s a few of the birds that I saw between the hummers. I’ll start with this chipping sparrow that was pointing the way to the common gallinules that I shot on this trip.
I got to the part of the marsh where I found the gallinules, or moorhens.
That was shot at 150 mm to give every one an idea of what I have to work around at times. The gallinules are those black spots behind the reeds. By picking small openings between the reeds, I was able to zoom in and get photos to crop down to this.
Not great, but it’s a start, and at least I can make a positive ID from the photos that I got. I would have liked to have gotten closer, but the adult was well aware of my presence, and would head for cover whenever it could see me clearly. So, we played hide and seek for the photos that I did get.
I thought about going back to my Forester, grabbing the tripod, and setting up with the 1.4 X extender behind the Beast to see if I could get better photos, but I’ve had mixed results with the extender used with the Beast. For close-ups, that set-up works great, but for distant shots, I’ve had a hard time getting sharp photos. So, between that and the heat, I decided that I’d wait for another day to try that out.
I had planned to go all the way to the Muskegon River while I was at Lane’s Landing, but when I got to the wooded area, I was met by a wall of mosquitoes that weren’t deterred the least by the insect repellent that I had put on. As hot and humid as it was, I thought that I had sweated enough to reduce the effectiveness of the repellent, but I had brought the bottle with me for just such an occasion. I re-applied more repellent, but it hardly slowed the skeeters down at all, so I turned around and headed back. On the way, I shot these.
This common yellowthroat would sing a little…
…then preen to make himself more attractive…
…then sing some more.
There were dozens of goldfinches gobbling down thistle seeds,but I could not get the light right for a good photo, so I tried something more artistic, it didn’t work.
This pewee posed nicely for me.
I saw several monarch butterflies….
…and I tried very hard to get THE shot of one with the light shining though its wings.
Close, but I hope to do better.
A catbird singing is always worth a photo!
And to wrap up the Lane’s Landing portion of this post, a female common yellowthroat that also posed nicely for me.
She even waved goodbye as I was leaving.
As hot as it was, I decided to head over to the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility to see if I could find any shorebirds. My thought was that since the birding there is done from inside a vehicle, I could run the AC and be comfortable as I drove around slowly looking for birds. That almost worked.
I spotted a pair of upland sandpipers before I had left the main entrance road at the wastewater facility, so I stopped to shoot a few photos.
Because of the heatwaves rising up from the ground, I couldn’t get a good photo, no camera or lens, no matter how good, ever could. It’s impossible to get a good photo in atmospheric conditions the way that they were that day unless you can get very close to your subject.
I decided that since the open area around the wastewater facility was out as far as photography, that I’d continue on to the wooded area north of there that’s also part of the Muskegon State Game Area. I shot this along the way.
I hung out in the wooded area for a few hours, walking slowly in the heat, and pausing often, but I think that most of the wildlife had found deeply shaded places to sit out the heat of the afternoon. I did shoot these.
I did do some playing around with camera settings, trying different things, which I’m putting to good use now, but the photos that I shot while there aren’t worth posting, here, or have already appeared in past posts.
I probably should have taken a nap and tried later in the evening, but, it since it was a Sunday, I decided to head home to sort through the photos I had taken instead. It was a good day in spite of the heat and skeeters. Most of my trips to the Muskegon area are, and most result in another lifer for me as far as birds.
The fall migration of shorebirds has begun, so I’ll be returning soon, possibly this weekend if the weather is more conducive to photography.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!