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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m loving the 10-18 mm lens, I can stand almost under a tree and get the entire tree in the frame.
Or, get really close to something, and use that lens’ depth of field to get everything in the frame in focus.
A little later, I tried the Tokina macro lens again, first on this very uncooperative katydid…
…that kept turning away from me as I attempted to get a photo, and then for this one that posed nicely for me.
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.
And then, these two, trying to get the reflections.
On my way again, I found this doe that wanted to play peek-a-boo with me.
I zoomed all the way to 500 mm for this one.
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.
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.
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.
Then, found another deer to play peek-a-boo with.
I didn’t try the flash again.
In the same dark area, I found a downy woodpecker.
And, crossing over Buck Creek, I saw these bubbles on the bottom of the creek.
I spent the rest of my time there practicing shots of the fall colors which are just getting going around here.
I met another photographer who was out shooting photos of fungi, so I shot this one to remember our conversation.
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.
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. 😉
Speaking of seeing, I’m still learning how to see through the 10-18 mm lens.
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.
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?
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.
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!