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

Some days the birds win

On Saturday, September 6th, I went to Roselle Park hoping to find a few birds to photograph. I guess that I got my wish, there were few birds there. 😉 By the end of the day, I learned that I haven’t spent enough time shooting small songbirds, my timing was off for one thing, I’ve spent too much of my time birding on shorebirds lately. The quality of my bird photos also suffered because it seemed like when I did see birds to shoot, the lighting was very poor at that moment.

For example, I started out shooting this female or juvenile common yellowthroat…

Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

…and from about the same spot, I was getting the exposure dialed in on this eastern phoebe….

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

….as you can see, the birds don’t just jump in front of my lens to have their picture taken! Oh wait, yes they do! The yellowthroat hopped in front of the phoebe and insisted that I shoot more photos of it.

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

The yellowthroat must have thought that I quit shooting it the first time because it had a few feathers out-of-place, so it did a little preening…

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

….then struck a pose.

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

Eastern phoebe photo-bombed by a Female or juvenile common yellowthroat

When the yellowthroat thought that I had shot a sufficient number of images of it, it departed, and let me get dialed in on the phoebe.

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

One great thing about nature is that if the birds don’t cooperate, there’s usually something else to photograph.

Grey-headed coneflower?

Grey-headed coneflower?

Grey-headed coneflower?

Grey-headed coneflower?

Grey-headed coneflower?

Grey-headed coneflower?

Those were shot with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) just as the sun was breaking through the clouds. A few minutes later, the sun was fully out, and I switched to the Tokina macro lens for these.

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

Aster?

I never did get the one with the water drop on it the way that I wanted it, water seems to change the focus point a great deal. If I got the part of the flower under the drop in focus, all the rest of the flower was out of focus and vice versa.

A band of clouds moved in to block the sun, about the same time that I found a small flock of bluebirds, none of which would pose in front of a background that would let me get a good photo of them.

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

That’s the way my day went, when I saw birds, I couldn’t get a good photo of them.

Eastern wood pewee

Eastern wood pewee

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

You wouldn’t believe how hard that I worked for those two rather poor photos. In fact, hard work seemed the rule for the day, I spotted this brightly colored beetle…

Beetle

Beetle

…and chased it around…

Beetle

Beetle

…and around…

Beetle

Beetle

…trying to get a good photo of it, but I had to settle for this one.

Beetle

Beetle

That bug wore me out. On the other hand, this one was so ugly that it doesn’t have to move to hide from predators.

Ugly beetle

Ugly beetle

With those spines, nothing in its right mind would try making a meal of that thing, not even a nearby frog.

Leopard frog

Leopard frog

Of course the frog was hiding from predators such as this one.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

And the heron was hiding because I had bungled my approach to the stream, which brought laughter from this crow behind me that was still smirking at me when I turned to shoot it.

American crow

American crow

I was providing so much amusement for the crow that it was a bit slow to take off, but it did.

American crow

American crow

At least I got a good shot of its feet.

A little later, I found a patch of wildflowers filled with goldfinches. Of course the males stayed on the wrong side of the wildflowers as far as lighting…

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

….while the females stayed on the right side for good photos.

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

I tried sneaking up on the heron again.

Great blue heron hiding

Great blue heron hiding

It didn’t work, they are such wary and intelligent birds.

Great blue heron hiding

Great blue heron hiding

On the other end of the scale are mallards, who love to pose for photos.

Mallard pair

Mallard pair

Next up, a dragonfly that I don’t remember ever seeing before, so I shot a couple of quick photos with the Beast to make sure that I got the dragonfly.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

While I was looking for a safe place to set the Beast down while I used the Tokina macro lens for better images, the dragonfly moved to a less photogenic spot, but I tracked it down for these.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

I said it was a day when I had to work for my photos, here’s another example. I tried very hard to get not only this bug’s face in focus, but also its wings.

Lacewing?

Lacewings?

But, the darned bug kept moving on me, ruining my photos.

Lacewing?

Lacewings?

On a completely different subject, I noticed the differences in color and textures of the leaves on these trees.

Color and texture

Color and texture

By the way, I shot that with the Tokina to get the sharpest possible photo so that the texture differences showed up in that image. I’ve tried that type of photo before, but it never came out quite right with other lenses.

I’ve said it before, but the Beast seems to sniff out birds hiding in the foliage…

Unidentified feathered object

Unidentified feathered object

But despite how well the Beast does, there are times when I still can’t make an ID from my photos.

Unidentified feathered object

Unidentified feathered object

Unidentified feathered object

Unidentified feathered object

From the shape color, and size of the bird’s bill, I think that this was a vireo of some species, but it could also be a warbler. So, I’ll copy those photos to my unidentified file, and hope that someday I’ll be able to get a few more photos of whatever species the birds is, make the ID, and match the new photos to these.

The next day, Sunday, I didn’t have much better luck with the birds, although I did get a lifer at Pickerel Lake, so I spent some time learning how to photograph fungi better than I have in the past. But, that’s another post.

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

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20 responses

  1. I particularly liked the brightly coloured beetle and the splendid heron, so majestic.

    September 11, 2014 at 3:05 am

    • Thank you Susan!

      September 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

  2. Great shot of the Female or juvenile common yellowthroat!

    It’s the challenge that keeps us coming back. Sometimes the pose is good but the light is bad or the other way around or everything is perfect but we somehow manage to screw it up!

    September 11, 2014 at 4:44 am

    • Thanks Bob! Funny you should mention screwing up a photo myself, I shot four frames of an egret in flight yesterday, and I missed great by just a little with each shot, but the miss was enough to make all four junk.

      September 11, 2014 at 9:16 am

  3. Welcome to the difficult world of photographing the tiny birds. 🙂

    September 11, 2014 at 6:31 am

    • Thanks Bob! It may not be easy, but I love the challenge.

      September 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

  4. Like the Law of the Jungle, everything out there is stalking something else, and you are stalking all of them. Nice collection. You excel at dragonflies.

    September 11, 2014 at 8:49 am

    • Thanks Judy! It’s as you say, everything is stalking something else, I just hope that I don’t turn around to find something stalking me. 😉

      September 11, 2014 at 9:18 am

  5. Although a bit unrelated to this fabulous post on birds/critters, I wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks for these highly detailed, well written and captivating posts with stunning photos on Michigan locations. I will be spending the month of October photographing In Michigan for the National Park Service and your posts on the National Lake Shores and the areas surrounding them was exceptionally helpful. And, as someone with a passion for our national lands and also a long distance kayaker for many decades I felt like I was having coffee with a kindred spirit as I read post after post. Many many thanks for all the time I know it takes to create these posts and please know they are deeply appreciated. ~ Rick

    September 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    • Thank you Rick, you are too kind. While I was quite proud of the photos in the posts you saw from the UP, I had just purchased most of my photo gear and wasn’t that familiar with it, I could do much better now, a year later. You should check out this blog http://lightscapesphotography.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-up-day-1/ if you want to see great photos of the UP, probably many of the same places you’ll be going.

      September 12, 2014 at 2:23 am

  6. Despite having a bad day you still managed to get some really great shots. The first common yellowthroat is lovely and all of the insects too.

    September 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    • Thank you Clare. I was hoping for better photos of more birds, but it was a good day overall.

      September 12, 2014 at 2:39 am

  7. It’s obvious by the photos that you were facing some challenges, but as usual you pulled it off.
    That purple flower is definitely an aster but I’m not sure which one. If the plant was 4-5 feet tall and the flowers as big as a quarter or bigger, it was probably a New England aster. I’m not sure about the gray headed coneflower either but I think you’re probably right.
    I think my favorites this time are the insects, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them.

    September 11, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    • Thanks Allen! I’m to the point where if I have the time, I can usually get a good photo in almost any light. Now, I need the birds to sit still a little longer to give me that time. 😉

      The asters were 3 to 4 feet tall, and the flowers were close to 2 inches in diameter, which is why I’m not sure that they really are asters.

      September 12, 2014 at 2:45 am

      • I’ve never seen a native aster with 2″ flowers, but I’ve seen plenty of cultivated ones reach that size. There are also mums that look a lot like asters.

        September 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

  8. I look forward to the fungi. Flowers never fly away which is useful.

    September 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    • Thanks Tom! You may be right, flowers don’t fly away, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t move. It doesn’t take much wind to move them, as you are probably well aware of.

      September 12, 2014 at 2:41 am

      • I am indeed….but at least you know where to find them.

        September 12, 2014 at 6:48 pm

  9. I enjoyed the series of the common yellowthroat – fun! 🙂 The shots of those purple flowers (asters?) are really awesome! Once again, your dragonflies – WOW!!

    September 15, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    • Thank you Amy! It’s all a matter of practice, and I just happen to practice more than most people.

      September 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm