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

Just another week around home

The big news for me this week is that Canon has announced the long-awaited, much-anticipated 7D Mark II camera body. I’m not going to go on about it too much, as it is far more camera than most people need. However, Canon has taken one of the best wildlife/birding cameras and made it even better. To me, the improved auto-focus capabilities are the big thing, it will now focus with an f/8 maximum aperture lens, not that there are any f/8 aperture lenses on the market. The important thing about that is that you can use a 1.4 X or even 2 X tele-converter behind nearly any lens and the 7D will still auto-focus, unlike my 60 D bodies, where I have to manually focus if I use even the 1.4 X extender with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). It will also auto-focus down to -3 EV light, a great thing when chasing small birds in deep shade!

The 7D also has an improved sensor for better image quality, and dual Digix 6 processors that let it shoot at 10 frames per second, a built-in time-lapse feature, and a bulb timer, just to name a few of the new things that I’d love to have. Canon didn’t cheapen the construction either, it’s still a magnesium frame body that is weather and dust sealed.

The one thing that Canon didn’t add that I wished they added was the vari-angle LCD display. But, after I thought about it for a while, I decided that the display was no big deal. I seldom use the vari-angle capabilities on my birding set-up, that’s a feature I use for macro photography or when using the tripod.

I can’t afford one now, that’s okay, I can wait, I hope. 😉 It will be a year or two before I can afford a 7D, and by that time, Canon will have worked out any bugs in their new design, and they’ll be offering rebates at times on the 7D. I’m sure glad that I didn’t fall for the 70 D when it came out.

The 70 D is probably a fine camera, but it’s only a baby step above the 60 D that I have, the 7D is a giant step up, a top of the line crop sensor camera with most of the same features as Canon’s best full frame sensor cameras. Time to start saving up for one.

Anyway, the weather here turned cool and I’m loving it! I tried not to complain too much about the heat and humidity this summer, but there were a few days when the weather wore me out. With cooler weather, I feel ready to take on the world again. That is, except for my knees. I’m going to have to get serious about finding another job, even if it means less time for photography and blogging.

I was just starting to look for a new job when my mom’s health took a severe turn for the worse, and then she passed away, so that held up my job search. Then, it was a dental appointment, I thought that I may as well let the insurance that I pay for cover that appointment, but it led to another appointment, so I’ve been on hold in the job search.

In other news, I’ve gotten photos of at least two more lifers for me, a Philadelphia vireo and American white pelicans, along with slightly better photos of American golden plovers. But, no photos of them in this post, I’m running behind again.

For this post, I’ll start with a hummingbird.

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbird

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbird

While I was shooting photos of one, a second one showed up…

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

…they had a short conversation…

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

…then the second one looked around for something to eat, and took off….

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbirds

…leaving just one for me to try to get a better photo of.

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbird

Juvenile or female ruby-throated hummingbird

With most of the summer resident birds gone, one of the few species left is goldfinches.

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

American goldfinch

I don’t know if that one was a male that had already molted to fall plumage, a female, or a juvenile, in a few weeks, they’ll all look the same.

There are still a few insects around to shoot.

Bee or wasp on pokeweed

Bee or wasp on pokeweed

That was just another excuse to attempt to get a good photo of the pokeweed. 😉

There’s still quite a few monarch butterflies around.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

But, I have plenty of photos of them from this past weekend, so one will do for now. In the meantime, a few more birds.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

This is far from my best image of a waxwing, but I kept it to remind me of the next photo.

Cedar waxwing

Cedar waxwing

While shooting the waxwing, I saw this bird fly high overhead…

Unidentified flying object

Unidentified flying object

…and it is truly an unidentified flying object, darn. It is obviously a tern or gull of a species that I’ve never seen before. But, I had time for just that one photo before it flew out of sight.

On the other hand, this I caught this red-eyed vireo in relatively good light…

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

…but it dove for shade when it spotted me.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Then it teased me by almost making its red eye visible.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Oh well, I was able to sneak up on one last spring to catch the red eye, at least this one showed me enough to make a positive ID without the red eye.

The squeamish, who don’t care for spiders should look away now.

Spider

Spider

The next series came as quite a surprise to me, such a surprise that I blew most of the shots. It’s rare for a great blue heron to visit any of the ponds in the apartment complex where I live, and so I was surprised last week when I saw one here. This week, I was even more surprised to see one chasing a great egret around. I didn’t catch the chase because of obstructions in my way, but here’s the heron, which I believe is a juvenile…

Juvenile? great blue heron

Great blue heron

…and here’s the egret, which I believe is also a juvenile.

Great egret

Great egret

I shot that one quickly, and was going for a better shot when the heron charged the egret again…

Great egret taking flight

Great egret taking flight

…but I was so close that there was no way for me to get both birds in the frame, so I decided to stick with the egret, even though I was a bit slow…

Great egret taking flight

Great egret taking flight

…I started tracking the egret well, just as it flew behind a tree…

Great egret flying behind a tree

Great egret flying behind a tree

…but I was able to get a lock on the egret just as it came in for a landing…

Great egret landing

Great egret landing

…but I cut its head off! Arggh!

The heron had a good laugh about that…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…I shot one of the egret at 500 mm…

Great egret

Great egret

…then zoomed out for this one…

Great egret

Great egret

…and then zoomed out to get all of the laughing heron in the frame.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I sure wish that the birds would let me know in advance what they were going to do so that I could be prepared! It’s hard to zoom in and out, adjust the exposure, and all the other things that need to be done to get a good photo, like sawing down a tree in the way. 😉

It’s so much easier to photograph mushrooms.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

I think that the next ones are all of the same species, but in different stages of development, if that’s the correct term for how they grow.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

All those were shot with the 10-18 mm lens if I remember correctly, this next one was from the Tokina macro lens.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

Finally, the ugly…

House wren

House wren

Wrens are very difficult to get a good photo of, they love staying in the darkest corners of the woods.  But, I fooled this one, after that bad shot, I was able to sneak around to the other side of the thicket before the wren spotted me.

House wren

House wren

House wren

House wren

What the heck, it’s early, so here’s the pelicans.

American white pelicans

American white pelicans

And, here’s the Philadelphia vireo.

Philadelphia vireo

Philadelphia vireo

I shot the pelicans at a man-made lake right next to the apartment complex where I used to live. It still amazes me how many species of birds use that area during migration. The vireo was shot at Pickerel Lake on Saturday. I’ll do a post on that trip, and another on the trip to Muskegon on Sunday, where I spent the day birding.

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

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23 responses

  1. The great blue heron was a splendid sight and the Great Egret even more so, clever photography.

    September 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    • Thank you Susan! It would have been much more clever of me to have gotten the entire egret in the frame or before it went behind the tree.

      September 17, 2014 at 2:20 am

  2. A great selection of egret and heron shots. The new camera body sounds interesting. Look after your knees though, your body is important too. I hope that the job hunt goes well.

    September 16, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    • Thank you Tom! I’ve been trying to go easy on my knees at work, but the carts that I have to move are really too heavy even for some one my size.

      September 17, 2014 at 2:23 am

      • A new job sounds essential. Good luck.

        September 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm

  3. Your series of shots and captions always gives me a reason to smile! 🙂

    That’s another great monarch photo – I’ve been seeing a lot of them here, too. Also, enjoyed the heron and egret. Congrats on the pelican and vireo – I look forward to your posts on them!

    September 16, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    • Thank you Amy! It’s good to hear that you’re seeing monarchs also, they seem to be increasing in numbers again, at least in Michigan.

      September 17, 2014 at 2:24 am

  4. The 7D comes with a hefty price tag too. I wouldn’t mind that it doesn’t have a vari-angle LCD display-I never use that feature on my SX40 anyway-but I don’t think I could swing that much money.
    I like the shots of the egret and the laughing heron, and it’s always great to see monarchs. I’m not sure which one it is but I thing that mushroom is in the amanita family.
    I haven’t seen a cedar waxwing yet and the silky dogwood berries are ripening fast.
    Take care of those knees!

    September 16, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you Allen!

      The 7D is geared towards sports and wildlife/bird photographers, there’d be no reason for you to spend that much on a camera for the subjects that you shoot. I am surprised that you don’t use the vari-angle display though. I use it quite often when I have the camera resting on the ground or in very wet places. Also for when I’m shooting landscapes with the camera on the tripod, I can swivel the screen around to cut out any glare from the sun.

      September 17, 2014 at 2:35 am

  5. Don’t you just hate it when the vireos do that? I just heard about the new 7D and it does indeed sound super exciting. I think you are wise about waiting for them to work out the bugs, and what great advice. It certainly caught my eye.

    Interesting that you’re considering another job (let’s hope someone at your current job isn’t looking at this…) So long as you can keep getting out and enjoying nature. Good luck on your search and the dental work. Ouch!

    September 16, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    • Thanks Emily! I’ve made it no secret at work that I’m not happy there, so I don’t care if any one from there reads this or not. It will be a year or two before I can swing a 7 D Mk II, maybe by that time I’ll have the skills to make use of it.

      September 17, 2014 at 2:27 am

  6. I look forward to eavesdropping in on your conversations with yourself for the next year about why you should/should not get the new Canon 7D. I do the same thing thing with Cannondale (bicycles).

    The egrets are so elegant. Ohhhh, that neck….!

    September 17, 2014 at 7:12 am

    • Thank you Judy! But, I’m sorry, the only discussion that I’ll be having with myself about the 7D is when I can afford it. Even last April when I started looking at new cameras, the 7D was the one that I wanted, but there were already rumors of a new and improved 7D on the way. I decided to “make do” with the 60D and purchase lenses for the time being.

      September 17, 2014 at 10:00 am

  7. I enjoyed looking at all the different birds in this post. It’s a pity you haven’t been able to ID the mystery bird yet. It looks so much like a House Martin (Delichon urbica) to me but I don’t suppose you get those in Michigan unless it was way off track! Good luck with the job hunt!

    September 17, 2014 at 7:36 am

    • Thank you Clare! This is a case when a photo can be deceiving. The bird in question was far too large to be a martin, we do have a species or two in that family here. The bird in question was the size of a tern or small gull, but with just one poor photo, narrowing it down further isn’t possible.

      September 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

  8. I ordered a 7D Mark II today. 🙂

    September 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    • Congratulations Bob! I’l be looking forward to reading your thoughts on it when you get it, and seeing your photos.

      September 18, 2014 at 1:18 am

  9. Awesome pictures.

    September 18, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    • Thank you!

      September 19, 2014 at 1:04 am

  10. U r so lucky to get hummers! If I’m lucky, I get to see one once per summer. I don’t want to do a feeder (I have enough work around this place!) but maybe I should look into an ornamental plant that they prefer. Thanks for sharing these pics!

    September 19, 2014 at 6:27 am

    • Thank you Lori! I track down “wild” hummers, those that aren’t going to a feeder. There are several flowering shrubs that will attract hummers that you could plant, but you would need several different species to have flowers during all the summer months.

      September 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

      • Sounds like a worthwhile project! I will look into this winter when I am dreaming of spring!!!

        September 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      • If it helps, I know that Weigela flowers attract hummers in the spring, as do rose of Sharon in the fall, in between those two seasons, you’re on your own. 😉

        September 20, 2014 at 2:37 am