Muskegon trip September 14th
This post is about the trip that I made to Muskegon on September 14th, 2014. I hit the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility, Lane’s Landing in the Muskegon State Game Area, and the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. In other words, one of my typical Muskegon area trips.
The weather forecast was a cool, sunny day, and I was up early and on my way before the sun had come up. Pre-dawn light may be good for landscapes and some other subjects, but not so good for birds when using the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens). I somehow spotted this red-shouldered hawk looking for breakfast as I was driving to wastewater facility.
Low light is even worse when trying to shoot flying birds.
So, I arrived at the wastewater facility just as the sun was coming up, but the waterfowl had beaten me there.
Most of the ducks were northern shovelers, blue-winged teal, and mallards, but there were a few others that I’ll get to later.
That reminds me, this post is going to be even heavier on photos than is usual for me, which means way too many, sorry. I shot some of my worst recent photos, and some of my best, the worst were of interesting things, of course. The best were of some more common species, but they’re too good to delete.
Anyway, I drove to what are known as the grassy cells while trying to see any birds in the low light. I found this song sparrow, and hopped out of my Forester for this shot….
…while looking for other birds as I stood by my vehicle, I saw this pair of sandhill cranes…
…I couldn’t believe that I had seen the sparrow before I saw the cranes, the light was that low. So, I stood there a little longer, and noticed birds much smaller than the cranes out feeding on the mudflats, a flock of American golden plovers. Here’s my best shot of an adult.
I was able to get photos of a juvenile last year, and there will be a few more of them later, from when the light improved slightly. But, when I returned for the better photos of the juveniles, the adults stayed out of camera range, darn. Maybe next spring I’ll catch adults in their breeding plumage, which is very colorful for a shorebird.
I watched the mudflats for any movement, and noticed that there were also many killdeer running across the mud.
And, a great blue heron flew almost directly overhead…
…as what I think was an adult male looked on from the next cell…
…and a third heron rose up out of another cell.
I think that so many large birds flying over it made this horned lark nervous.
If you remember, I said that the forecast was for sunny skies, but, it had cooled off so much overnight that a thick layer of lake effect clouds had formed which hung around until after noon. I shot this shot just to see if I could pull it off in the very low light.
It turned out better than I had hoped. I went back to the large lagoon where I started, and shot a few of the newly arrived waterfowl.
What could be cuter than a ruddy duck with its tail up?
A pair of them.
There was almost a break in the clouds, and I shot these Savannah sparrows then.
I caught a least sandpiper taking a bath….
…to dry off, it jumped straight up out of the water and flapped its wings, hovering in place.
A short time later, another was bathing….
…and the other two you see came running to see if the one taking a bath was stirring up any goodies to eat…
…but the one taking a bath was splashing so much that the other two decided not to get too close.
I didn’t see as many red-tailed hawks as on my last trip, but there were still a few around.
There were also a few of the semipalmated plovers around yet, also.
It started getting a little brighter, finally, so I went back to the grassy cells looking for the golden plovers. The juveniles were there close to me.
Talk about tough lighting, as you can see, the sun had come out a little, and blue sky was reflecting off from the water. A few seconds later, the clouds blocked out the sun, and the water reflected black clouds.
A heron, maybe one of the ones from earlier came swooping in.
As much as I wanted to hang around waiting for better light, I headed up to the Lane’s Landing area in the Muskegon State Game Area. That could be considered a mistake, for I saw fewer birds there than any other time that I’ve been there. But, there were other things to shoot.
I did see a few cedar waxwings, so I shot one just to say that I was able to get a bird at Lane’s Landing.
Then, it was on to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve. The birding started out slow there too, so I shot a few other subjects.
Even though I have a hard time getting a good shot of a monarch butterfly, I thought that I’d try for a double.
But the way the wind was blowing, I gave up and went for a single.
I started seeing birds.
And, I got what I thought was a relatively good image of a flicker.
They are wary birds, I seldom get close to them. So, I was shocked when one perched right in front of me, in the open, in good light, and started posing like a model!
On the other hand, a juvenile catbird saw that I was about to shoot its picture, and took off running through the foliage…
…and thought that it had found a place to hide. But, I had the Beast, and there’s no hiding from it!
I wonder if this counts as a new species, a banded chickadee?
I was shocked when the first flicker posed for me, I nearly had a hear attack when a second one did the same!
It looked me over, decided that I wasn’t a threat, and then went looking for ants.
I’m including this next one to show you how well they blend into the grass as they feed on ants, their favorite food.
This is how close it got to me.
Next up, three images of a viceroy butterfly, because I can’t choose the best of the three.
By then, it was late afternoon, and I was tired. But, there were these tiny white flowers growing on bushes near the parking lot. I tried to get a good photo of one using the Tokina macro lens.
But, I was too tired to fight the wind, so I switched to the 10-18 mm lens to get a “flock shot” and about that time, a monarch butterfly landed in front of me.
I was going to switch back to the macro lens, but the monarch flew off, so here’s the flowers.
There were plenty of bees on the flowers, so I decided to see how close I could get with the 10-18 mm lens.
Again, I’m sorry for including too many photos, but I didn’t feel like breaking them up into two posts. I won’t bore you any longer, so this is the end.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!