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

Palmer Park, September 27th, 2014

Last Saturday, I went looking for a black-crowned night heron that has been seen often just a few miles from where I live. I didn’t find the heron, it was probably too late in the morning by the time I arrived where it has been reported. Since I was starting out close to home, I decided that after looking for the heron that I’d wander around Palmer Park to see what I could find there, as it is also close to where I live.

I also went there because it was a warm day for the end of September, and Palmer Park is heavily wooded, so I could stay cool in the shade, along with shooting a few practice photos of fall colors.

The day started out well, I noticed this feather in the grass outside of my apartment as I was loading my camera gear into my Subaru.

Dew on feather

Dew on feather

I arrived at the pond where the black-crowned night heron has been seen, but instead of it, I found this great blue heron moving to a different spot to hunt.

Great blue heron in flight over a marsh

Great blue heron in flight over a marsh

That’s far from my best shot of a heron, but I liked the background, the heron is just an excuse to post that image. πŸ˜‰

So, I’m being all stealthy, standing in tall weeds and brush looking for the other species of heron, when a kingfisher lands in a tree closer than I have ever been to a kingfisher before.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Of course the sun was behind the kingfisher, so the images I shot are junk, but I had to shoot another to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

Isn’t that the way it goes? I have dozens of photos of them shot in good light, but at distances too far for a great photo. Then, when I have one right next to me so close that I don’t have to crop the images, the light couldn’t be much worse.

I shot this photo of a pair of unidentified ducks at the same pond.

Unidentified ducks

Unidentified ducks

I only shot that because the ducks weren’t mallards, so this will help me to remember that this little pond is worth checking from time to time, not only for the night herons, but species of waterfowl as well. It’s remarkable how some of the small ponds in the middle of a very developed area attract so many species of birds these days. This little pond was very similar to the one where I found the least bitterns, trumpeter swans, and other waterfowl this spring.

Anyway, it was off to Palmer Park after that, and as I was getting my camera gear strapped to myself, I spotted this pair of mourning doves.

Mourning doves

Mourning doves

I had just started my walk when I spotted a number of very small mushrooms and other fungi, but I managed to botch every photo of them that I shot one way or another. They were in very deep shade, so I needed extra light, and if I got the light and exposure correct, I missed the focus, or vice versa. I couldn’t even get this shot right.

Berries

Berries

I’ve noticed that I have a difficult time switching gears when it comes to the range of subjects that I attempt to photograph. I had started the day in “bird mode”, and trying to shoot macros was more than my feeble brain could handle at that time. It has worked the opposite way other times, when I start the day shooting macros, I often blow my chances at birds, until I’ve shot a few. Oh well, I think that more practice will help.

I even needed to warm up on other kinds of photos.

Virginia creeper and trees

Virginia creeper and trees

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

Sycamore tree

Sycamore tree

I’m loving the 10-18 mm lens, I can stand almost under a tree and get the entire tree in the frame.

Sycamore tree

Sycamore tree

Or, get really close to something, and use that lens’ depth of field to get everything inΒ the frame in focus.

Insect tunnels on a tree

Insect tunnels on a tree

A little later, I tried the Tokina macro lens again, first on this very uncooperative katydid…

Katydid

Katydid

…that kept turning away from me as I attempted to get a photo, and then for this one that posed nicely for me.

Katydid

Katydid

Those were taken on the boardwalk, at the far northern end of the park, and I had started out at the southern end of the park. I saw very few birds, as you can tell from my photos, I don’t know why, but that’s the way that Palmer Park has been for some time now, very few birds. I may have to cross this park off from my list of places to go, as not only have I seen few birds there, the boardwalk is getting to the point where it is tricky to walk along. The boardwalk has been technically closed for over a year, but I didn’t think that it was in that bad of shape. It is now, as there have been no repairs to it at all.

Anyway, having reached the far end of the park, I sat down for a break, and shot this leaf floating down Buck Creek.

Floating leaf

Floating leaf

And then, these two, trying to get the reflections.

Reflections 1

Reflections 1

Reflections 2

Reflections 2

On my way again, I found this doe that wanted to play peek-a-boo with me.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I zoomed all the way to 500 mm for this one.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

As long as there was a blade of grass or two between us, the doe seemed fine with my being there. So, I mounted the flash unit to my camera for this one.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

Even with the flash unit dialed way down, you can still see it in the deer’s eyes.

Then a rather odd thing occurred, I could hear a small plane flying overhead, and I was quite surprised to see that the doe seemed very interested in the plane.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I found it interesting to watch the deer watch the plane, as they aren’t supposed to pay any attention to things above them, which is why people hunt deer from tree stands.

I checked the ponds on the north end of the park to see if I could find any wood ducks, but no ducks at all, not even a mallard. But, I did shoot a 500 mm landscape.

Yellow

Yellow

Then, found another deer to play peek-a-boo with.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

I didn’t try the flash again.

Whitetail doe

Whitetail doe

In the same dark area, I found a downy woodpecker.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

And, crossing over Buck Creek, I saw these bubbles on the bottom of the creek.

Bubbles

Bubbles

I spent the rest of my time there practicing shots of the fall colors which are just getting going around here.

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

Fall colors

I met another photographer who was out shooting photos of fungi, so I shot this one to remember our conversation.

Coral fungi

Coral fungi

I shot that using live view with the camera just off the ground. The shutter speed sounded very slow, so I fired up the LED panel light, and tried again.

Coral fungi

Coral fungi

I posted the second one to remind myself that I need to replace the reading glasses that I lost so that I can see what I’m doing. πŸ˜‰

Speaking of seeing, I’m still learning how to see through the 10-18 mm lens.

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

Palmer Park

I’ve never had a lens this wide before, so it’s been a real learning experience using it. I was hoping to really practice with it at this pond, which in past years has produced some good images for me. But, this year, mats of floating vegetation are covering the surface of the pond, limiting the reflections on the surface of it.

Palmer Park pond

Palmer Park pond

At least there was a heron at the pond, on the far bank, can you see it at 10 mm? How about at 500 mm and cropped?

Great blue heron at Palmer Park pond

Great blue heron at Palmer Park pond

It was a grand day to be outside, even if the photos of the day turned out to be rather ho-hum, like another downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves.

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

Downy woodpecker in Virginia creeper leaves

As you can see in the second image, the woodpecker was eating the berries produced by the Virginia creeper.

Like I said, the weather was what most people would consider perfect, a far cry from what I’m expecting this weekend. I have a post to do on another trip to the Muskegon area, lots of images from around home that I could fill two posts with, but rather than stay home and blog, I’m heading up north this weekend.

There are gale warnings posted for northern Lake Michigan for tonight into tomorrow, with on and off rain, possibly mixed with snow, in store for me when I get up north. I’m heading to the Petoskey, Michigan area tomorrow, and I hope to shoot photos along the Lake Michigan shore. Then on Sunday, I plan to photograph the Jordan River valley, which is in my opinion, one of the prettiest places in lower Michigan in the fall.

If I were to delay my trip by a week, there would be few leaves left on the trees as rapidly as fall is progressing this year. Last year, I went to the UP the last week of September, and I was too early as far as fall color, this year, the places I went last year have already hit their peak color for the year.

So, I’m going to travel light and sleep in the back of my Forester, as I don’t want to deal with either my tent or tent/cot in the type of weather that I’m expecting. Besides, sometimes bad weather produces better photos than good weather.

And, speaking of my Forester, right now, I’m off to have the 20,000 mile service done on it, so I’m out of here!

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

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22 responses

  1. Hope you have a great trip, with lots of fantastic shots up there in the UP!

    October 3, 2014 at 11:17 am

    • Thank you! I hope to come back with some solid images, if not fantastic. πŸ˜‰

      October 4, 2014 at 2:09 am

      • Think POSITIVE!!! πŸ˜€

        October 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      • A man’s got to know his limitations!

        October 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

  2. The dew on the feather and the floating leaf were my favourite pictures.

    October 3, 2014 at 11:46 am

    • Thank you Susan!

      October 4, 2014 at 2:10 am

  3. Csisza

    I love the picture of the feather!

    October 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

      October 4, 2014 at 2:10 am

  4. I hope you have a good trip and bad weather doesn’t stop you doing anything. The shots of the doe were really good and your observation about her listening to the plane was interesting. The range of subjects you photograph continues to amaze me – also the way you go from shooting wide landscapes to shots of bubbles and feathers. Thanks Jerry!

    October 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    • Thank you Clare! I actually enjoy “bad” weather, but I don’t think that my camera gears shares my enthusiasm for wind and rain. πŸ˜‰ I may have to shoot from inside my vehicle often, but other than that, I plan to do what I would normally do.

      I know that I could improve the quality of my images if I stuck to one type of subject, but there’s too much in nature that I find both interesting and beautiful to limit what I shoot.

      October 4, 2014 at 2:15 am

  5. The plant with the white berries is white baneberry and the berries are called doll’s eyes, which seems to creep a lot of people out for some reason.
    I like the floating leaf and the doe listening to the plane is interesting.If she heard it and knew that she had to look up to see it, that’s really something.
    I like the foliage and reflection shots. I think our colors are a little ahead of yours this year and I wonder why.
    I’m glad you found a coral fungus. I almost always have to use at least a flash for them because they grow in such dark places.

    October 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    • Thanks for the nice words and the ID.

      The doe was definitely interested in the plane, but I doubt she knew that she had to look up. She was following her ears, she located the plane by sound, then looked in the direction that her sense of hearing told her to look. In fact, I doubt if she actually saw the plane, as deer have very poor eyesight. But, it was still interesting to watch her locate the source of the sound, then look for it, when deer aren’t “supposed” to look upward at all.

      The color of the trees is running two weeks ahead of last year around here, I hope to find some up north. They say that the changing of the color is due to the shorter days, but weather has to be a factor.

      I found another reason to love the 10-18 mm lens, the coral fungi without extra light was shot at 1/2 second, handheld. The image stabilization on that short of lens really works!

      October 4, 2014 at 2:44 am

  6. Another great selection of pictures. I like your appetite for taking photographs of anything that catches your eye. I feel for your problem with the light when you were so close to a kingfisher. I hope that your trip works out well.

    October 3, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I still can’t hold a candle to your range of subjects, which includes everything that I shoot, plus bridges, gates, castles, churches, and domesticated farm animals to name a few.

      October 4, 2014 at 2:35 am

      • Not to mention the world’s greatest baby.

        October 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      • True!

        October 5, 2014 at 10:18 pm

  7. Didn’t know those red vines are Virginia Creeper. I really like the shot of the doe watching the plane. Great capture. Hope you took warm clothes for your trip. We are freezing, but don’t want to give in, and wear our winter jackets (yet). πŸ˜‰

    October 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    • Thanks Judy! If it’s a red vine, it could be Virginia creeper, but it could also be poison ivy, so it’s best to check.

      When there’s sleet hitting the windshield, then it’s time for a winter jacket. 😦

      October 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm

  8. I loved the leaf “portrait”, too! And the shots of the doe, of course!

    October 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

    • Thank you Lori!

      October 5, 2014 at 10:18 pm

  9. Many wonderful images here, Jerry, even if they aren’t up to your “standards”! πŸ˜‰ I especially liked the feather and the floating leaf and those deer shots are great! How fortunate to get that kingfisher landing so close, even if the light was bad for photos. We see them up north all the time but usually they are zooming across the water and never a chance for a decent picture. The only time I did get one, it was too far away for the little camera I used to have.

    I hope you have/had a great time up north. I’m afraid we aren’t going to get much fall this year. I’m shocked at how quickly the color turned and then started to fall and disappear. It’s been a real disappointment. Looks like we aren’t going up again until the end of October, when I get a long weekend off. There won’t be a stitch of color left by then. :/

    October 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    • Thank you Amy! I seldom see a kingfisher close and stationary, my best photos of them have been as they flew past me.

      It is an odd year for color. I’m back from up north, and right along Lake Michigan, there was very little color in the trees. Inland, it was hit or miss, so there may still be some color left when you get a chance to get away.

      October 8, 2014 at 1:09 am