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

Muskegon trip Aug. 16th, still more shorebirds

This post is about the trip that I made to Muskegon on August 16th, 2014, not one of my better days. I think that some of the first waves of shorebirds had already departed, as I didn’t see more than a handful of species of them. I am positive that this will be the shortest post that I’ve ever done on a trip to anywhere in the Muskegon area, and I shot less than 200 photos for the day as proof of how little I saw.

I went to the wastewater facility again, and warmed up taking a few photos of a horned lark.

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

I posted quite a few images of red-tailed hawks in the last two posts I did from Muskegon, but when one poses for me, I just have to shoot it. 😉

Red-tailed hawk, not cropped

Red-tailed hawk, not cropped

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk, slight crop

IMG_8920

Red-tailed hawk, slight crop

One of these days I’m going to have to buy a good lens other than that junk Sigma 150-500 mm, otherwise known as the Beast. 😉

When I got to the first of the man-made lakes, there was a mixed bag of birds to be seen.

Greater yellowlegs rear, Wilson's phalarope center, Semipalmated sandpiper front

Greater yellowlegs rear, Wilson’s phalarope center, Semipalmated sandpiper front

I shot a few more of the greater yellowlegs, since I posted just lesser yellowlegs last week.

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

While I was shooting those, another birder/photographer showed up, and I showed him my trick of hiding in the weeds to get better photos than from his vehicle. Too bad that somewhere in there I managed to switch the mode of my camera from aperture to manual without knowing it, and I fought that for most of the day. I checked everything else out when I started having trouble, but never thought to check the shooting mode, as I seldom change it.

Anyway, we were kneeling in the weeds, and the Wilson’s phalarope swam right over to us.

Wilson's phalarope

Wilson’s phalarope

Wilson's phalarope

Wilson’s phalarope

Wilson's phalarope

Wilson’s phalarope

Wilson's phalarope

Wilson’s phalarope

As you can see, I over-exposed the last two images quite a bit, darn!

I did manage a few halfway good shots of the semipalmated sandpipers.

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Later in the day I was able to get even more, but I won’t bore you with them now.

Instead, I’ll bore you with a few eagle images. The first one was shot from inside of my Forester.

Bald eagle, 500 mm

Bald eagle, 500 mm

I eased outside for this one.

Bald eagle, 500 mm

Bald eagle, 500 mm

Since the eagle seemed in no hurry to leave, I put the Tamron 1.4 X tele-converter behind the Beast for these next to, giving me a focal length of 700 mm.

Bald eagle, 700 mm

Bald eagle, 700 mm

Bald eagle, 700 mm

Bald eagle, 700 mm

Fair, since I have to manually focus, I never know if I missed the focus or it that combination of the Beast and extender is just soft past about 75 feet.

Another very poor shot, four sandhill cranes and a murder of crows out in the middle of one of the fields eating grasshoppers I assume.

Sandhill cranes and crows

Sandhill cranes and crows

That’s one of those “for the record photos” that I don’t post many of any longer. There were between 30 and 50 crows out in the field along with the cranes.

Next up is the most interesting sequence of photos from the day, a pair of American kestrels engaged in what I assume was pair bonding.

American kestrels

American kestrels

I had watched one of the kestrels chase a hawk out of the area, then it was joined by the second kestrel. They were fooling around in the tree at first, then one took to the air to make passes at the other.

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

Then, the second one took wing, and the two of them flew in formation together for quite a while as I watched.

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

American kestrels

I shot plenty of photos, too bad the kestrels had moved to where I couldn’t get a good image of them.

After that, I went back and got a few more shorebirds.

Greater yellowlegs

Greater yellowlegs

Baird's sandpiper

Baird’s sandpiper

The rest of the images of the Baird’s sandpiper I used to correct one of the mistakes that I made in the My Photo Life List project. One down, one to fix yet, but I didn’t get any shots of a stilt sandpiper, maybe next time.

I’m not sure when that will be. I’m a bit burned out on shorebirds right now, so I think that I’ll skip a week at least before returning to the wastewater facility unless the birding reports tell me that I’d better not. But, I have a week to figure out where to go next weekend. It will depend on the weather, also. It’s hot out there in the mid-day sun, I could use a break from that as well.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say, it was a long day, and not a very productive one at that.

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

 

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29 responses

  1. I especially enjoyed your splendid pictures of the red tailed hawk.

    August 18, 2014 at 1:39 am

    • Thank you! It always helps when they pose so nicely.

      August 18, 2014 at 1:59 am

  2. Well if that wasn’t a productive day, I don’t know what would be! The hawk shots alone are quite spectacular!

    August 18, 2014 at 3:24 am

    • Thank you very much! I think that I’m setting the bar too high as far as the quality of the images I’d like to get, the number of species seen in a day, and how often I’d like to get a lifer. Not only that, but I baked my brain, what little of it that there is left, out there again yesterday.

      August 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

  3. Love the pictures. …Thanks

    August 18, 2014 at 3:47 am

    • Well, thank you for leaving a comment!

      August 18, 2014 at 9:17 am

  4. I am sorry you were disappointed but I wasn’t as there were still such excellent birds to look at. The Kestrel behaviour sequence was very interesting.

    August 18, 2014 at 4:17 am

    • Thanks Clare!I think that I have been pushing myself too hard the last few weeks, time to slow down and enjoy what I’m seeing.

      August 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

      • Yes, why do we do this? Change a relaxing enjoyable hobby into something so stressful we stop enjoying it! Part of the reason is the urge to know more and really excel in something that interests us. We have limited time because of work and other commitments and so we are always trying to catch up. I have a back-log of posts I want to do and no time to do them. It really annoys me! I hope you can relax and enjoy what you are doing again. I know that I am just one of many of your followers who love reading your posts and admire the skill with which you photograph the wildlife around you.

        August 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      • Well said, Claire.

        August 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      • Thanks for your kind words and input! However, I have left a lot of personal things out of my posts lately, and those things are what are causing me to have to push myself of late. My mother is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, and her brain function is now so low that she can’t swallow food or water most of the time now. She’s dying, and that weighs heavily on my mind as I try to escape the decisions that I have to make. It’s hard to go out and have fun under such circumstances.

        August 19, 2014 at 2:37 am

  5. It’s funny how one day nature will throw everything in your path and other days you don’t see much of anything. It happens with plants too, believe it or not.
    I like the hawk and eagle shots, but I think my favorites are the Baird’s sandpiper.

    August 18, 2014 at 6:30 am

    • Thanks Allen! Yes, it does happen with plants, or at least flowers, as there seems to be a lull in new blooms appearing right now. I think that I’m putting too much emphasis on photography, as watching the kestrels in action should have been enough to make it a great day. But, I knew while I was shooting them that they were too far away, and that the light was bad, so my photos wouldn’t be great. I was concentrating more on getting the best possible photo than on what they were doing.

      August 18, 2014 at 9:44 am

  6. Phoenix Tears Healed

    beautiful photo’s, I especially love the phalarope and sandpipers 🙂

    August 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

    • Thank you very much! Glad you enjoyed them.

      August 18, 2014 at 9:20 am

  7. Good thing you moved on, because I think that hawk was starting to give you the Stink Eye. Wonderful photos of that guy.

    August 18, 2014 at 8:24 am

    • Thanks Judy! Hawks don’t give me the stink eye, they’re my buddies. I used to have a few that would let me follow and photograph them while they hunted.

      August 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

      • Seems like following a hunting hawk would be a real feat, but not out of line for a photographer with your abilities.

        August 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

      • Thanks, but it didn’t take any special skills. I walk the same area every day, and young hawks who don’t have as much fear of people to begin with learned to recognize me by sight, and let me stay relatively close to them.

        August 18, 2014 at 1:05 pm

  8. I enjoyed the kestrel sequence a lot.

    August 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      August 19, 2014 at 2:32 am

  9. I am so sorry for you in all your troubles. Having to witness the illness and death of a loved one is so very hard to do. There is nothing you can do to make anything better and the waiting is so awful. There is no escape as you cannot stop thinking about it at any time and you feel physically ill as well. I pray that God may comfort you and take care of you and your poor mother.

    August 19, 2014 at 4:04 am

    • Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, I appreciate them!

      August 19, 2014 at 9:21 am

  10. Exquisite hawk and eagle and I really like your kestrel photos, they show lots of character.

    August 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    • Thank you very much! I should specialize in raptors, since I have more luck with them than other birds.

      August 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      • Yes you do, but suggest you don’t tell Bertha that she’s not your only Red Tailed Hawk model!

        August 20, 2014 at 6:59 am

      • Thanks, but hawks love it when I have more than one model, then I don’t bug them as much. 😉

        August 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

  11. Really great job on the red-tailed hawk and I really enjoyed the eagle photos. There is something particularly sweet and innocent about the shorebirds. I feel especially partial to those greater yellow legs.

    Sorry to hear about your mother and your personal struggles with the decisions to come. My heart goes out to you and I will keep you in my prayers.

    August 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    • Thanks Amy, those struggles are all over with now, as you know, but there’s a new set of them to deal with.

      August 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm