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

The end of October around home

I’m starting this post on the morning before I begin my new job, which today will be going in for orientation. Tomorrow, they will have some one from the company ride with me to be sure that I understand their procedures, thenย on Wednesday, I’m on my own.

I must be getting old, I used to change jobs all the time and it never bothered me. This time, I’m nervous, and I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s because I’m hoping that this will be my last job before I retire in a few years.

Well, I’m home from orientation at my new employer, and it went well. I do get the feeling that this will be the last job that I start. I may not get rich there, or even earn as much as I could make at some other trucking companies, but it will be a huge leap up from what I was making. However, there’s more to life, or even a job, than money. I’ll be working a lot of hours over the winter, just to get ahead and to save for a new Canon 7D Mark II, but come next spring, I’ll slack off a little.

Judging from what the management said during my first day, they know how to run a short-haul regional trucking operation. It seems that they have figured out that it costs them a ton of money to hire a new driver, so being flexible and reasonable in the way that they schedule and treat their drivers pays off in the long run.

It will be good to work for a growing company that has a great reputation, rather than a dying one with a horrible reputation as my last employer was.

Anyway, I’m going to start the photos in this post with two of the better fall foliage shots that I got from around home, that I didn’t accidentally delete as I did the other half-dozen images that I had saved.

Fall foliage 1

Fall foliage 1

Fall foliage 2

Fall foliage 2

Keith, the grasshopper hunting heron hung around here until the end of October, and will appear several times in this post.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I haven’t seen him for quite some time now, I think that he’s flown south for the winter. That was a very wise decision on his part, as we’re going to have a long, cold winter this year.

The bird migration this fall was sporadic, and I saw very few migrating birds around home.

Male Eastern towhee

Male Eastern towhee

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

Juvenile male red-winged blackbird

Seeing the red-winged blackbird surprised me, as all the locals here left two months ago, and there were only one or two other blackbirds with it. They normally migrate in large flocks.

Here’s a shot that I liked, even though this image isn’t quite what I wanted. I thought that the scene had potential.

The fence 1

The fence 1

So, I tried again.

The fence 2

The fence 2

And a third time.

The fence 3

The fence 3

After that, I gave up and had to admit that what I tried to make that scene look like just wasn’t going to work.

Now, the leaves have almost all fallen from the trees, and about the only colors left are grey and brown. So, I guess that you’ll be seeing a lot of these from me this winter.

Male northern cardinal

Male northern cardinal

Black-capped chickadee take-off

Black-capped chickadee take-off

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Male house finch

Sorry so many of the finch, but I love getting series of photos of birds feeding to see how they go about it. That may sound a bit strange, but I often wonder how they get on so well without hands to hold what they eat, along with the foods that they consume.

Squirrels are both cute and interesting, along with loads of personality.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

In case you hadn’t noticed, there weren’t many sunny days the last month or so, it’s that time of year here. The lake effect clouds formed by cold air crossing the warmer waters of the Great Lakes has kept us socked in under those clouds most days, and it will only get worse this winter. So, when there was some sun, I tried to take advantage of it.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

Two that I like, even though the subjects aren’t spectacular.

Unidentified fungal objects

Unidentified fungal objects

Maple leaves

Maple leaves

Gee, more images of Keith the great blue heron, first, a wide shot…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…then, zoomed in.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I found a pair of downy woodpeckers within range of good photos.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

And a female mallard in a pretty setting.

Fall mallard

Fall mallard

On one of the sunny days, I did some lens testing, using British soldier lichens as the test subject. I started at 15 mm…

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

….then switched to the Tokina macro lens for a close-up….

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

….then, a depth of field shot with the same lens.

British soldier lichen

British soldier lichen

I tried shooting this wasp’s nest at several different focal lengths, here’s the one I like best.

Wasp nest

Wasp nest

One day, there were several young people in the park, and they asked me what I was taking pictures of. So, I pointed out to them that there was Keith the great blue heron….

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…Bertha, the female red-tailed hawk…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…and I tried pointing out Bruiser, Bertha’s mate, but being as stubborn as he is, he took off…

Red-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk

…but he did pull up for one better photo.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

While I was pointing out the hawks, Keith came running up with something in his mouth…

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…it was a small snake! The snake fought back valiantly!

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

But it lost, and must have wiggled a bit on the way down.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It didn’t take Keith long to regain his composure though.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

It’s true, great blue herons will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.

And my last photo for this post, one that I am quite proud of.

Fall Mallards in HDR

Fall Mallards in HDR

If only I could have gotten the mallards to cooperate a bit more to help me out with the composition. However, I walked all around the pond, checking the reflections at different places, and wound up with a very good image, but the colors were a bit dull due to the light. So, I did a cloned HDR version, where I adjusted the exposure of one image both up and down from my original image, then did the HDR merge from those three images.

That was shot with the Tokina 100 mm macro lens, I really need to use that lens for more than macro photos more of the time. Here’s the original non-HDR version.

Fall Mallards

Fall Mallards

Not bad, but I was already losing the deep blue of the reflected sky at that exposure setting, and if I had gone up any more with the exposure, the sky would have been washed out.

Well, that’s about all for this one. I’m getting ready for my second day at my new job as I type this, which consists of drinking copious amounts of coffee, and I’m only on my first cup.

I know that for at least this first winter there, I won’t be able to do my daily walks most days, since the daylight hours are so short. Once spring arrives, with longer days, I should have a set schedule, and be able to work a walk in at some point in the day, we’ll see. However, I will have weekends off for the most part, so I’ll be able to get out and about then. In the meantime, I still have several posts worth of photos left to post, and I’ll revive posting to the My Photo Life List this winter.

I have enough photos saved for that to put me over 200 species of birds, not bad for less than two years of trying since I began that project. But, the first 200 were the easy ones, the remaining 150 species will be harder.

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

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31 responses

  1. Good luck with the new job. Think I’m going to wave at every truck I see – eventually, one of them will be you.

    Seeing your opening photos reminds me how much I miss the fall colors already – it was full color when we came home three weeks ago, and now it’s long gone.

    Nice batch of photos, but think the cardinal is my favorite. Love the light coming through his tail.

    Enjoy your new job. See you on the road….

    November 11, 2014 at 7:34 am

    • Thank you Judy! I’m driving for Holland Special Delivery now, they have mostly reddish brown trucks, that should cut down on the number of truck drivers that you have to wave at. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’m not liking the way that this year went from late summer to winter in less than a month. I’m afraid that it looks as if we will have one of our worst winters ever.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

  2. Very nice selection of photos. Good luck with the new job!

    November 11, 2014 at 7:55 am

    • Thank you Bob!

      November 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

  3. Yes, good luck with the new job. I liked the series of finch photos and the one of Keith grappling with the snake. My favourites though, are the very first fall leaf shot and the mallard in the lake with leaves. Very pretty!

    November 11, 2014 at 7:56 am

    • Thank you Clare! Unfortunately, both the heron and leaves are gone for the winter. But, maybe the finches will stick around if our winter isn’t as cold as I think it will be.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:19 pm

  4. Good luck with the new gig!!! PS, I thought the migration pattern seemed a bit strange this year, too. Might have something to do with the very late frost. We have not had a hard frost yet and no real overnight ones to speak of. (I know this because the hoses still work!)

    November 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    • Thank you Lori!We’re going straight from late summer to winter, which may have affected the birds. It does affect hoses, or so I’m told. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      November 11, 2014 at 9:21 pm

  5. I thought that that was one of your best posts ever. It included wonderful autumn colours, a squirrel and lots of interesting and beautiful birds, I really enjoyed every photograph.

    November 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

    • Thank you Susan! Variety is the spice of life, and good photos. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      November 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

  6. Good luck in your new job, it sounds great.

    November 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

    • Well, thank you again! The new job is working out well, I think that it will be a great place to work.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm

  7. I like that wasp nest. My aunt and uncle had wasp nest up against a living room window, building one of those large structures. From inside the house, one could see all the wasp activity inside the nest, since the nest was built right on the window.

    November 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

    • Thank you Lavinia! It would be so cool to be able to see the wasps at work, I’d love to see that.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:25 pm

  8. Miriam

    Beautiful photos, as always. I know what you mean about it being harder to start new things as you get older- I often think of how fearless I used to be and wish I could recapture some of that spirit. Maybe it is because we’re more aware of all the things that can go wrong as we get older.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    • Thank you Miriam! Part of it is getting older, part of it is wanting very much for this new job to work out.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      • Miriam

        I hope it does! Sounds like a positive thing ๐Ÿ™‚

        November 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

  9. Is it just me or does that heron have an unusually long neck? He seems to have more neck than most but maybe it’s because he always keeps it stretched out.
    I think the foliage shots are just about perfect and if the shot of the wasp nest were mine I’d frame it.
    I wonder if you shot that split rail fence looking down the length of it if you’d be happier with it? I don’t seem to have much luck with fences so I don’t know.
    That macro lens did a great job on the lichens. I see what you mean about the colors in the HDR of the ducks but I like both of them.
    Good luck with the new job. I hope you have a chance to work day shift now. I always thought changing jobs was tough at any age. Usually when I find one I’m there for as long as possible.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    • Thanks Allen! I believe that you’re correct, Keith does have a longer neck than a typical heron.

      Te fence disappears into tangles of grapevines in either direction from where I took those photos, or yes, I would have shot it at more of an angle. That would have helped a great deal, but what you see is what I had to work with.

      I like both of the mallard photos as well, but I really like how the HDR version made the colors pop as they did when I looked through the viewfinder.

      I took my last job for just one reason, so that I had a schedule that worked with what I had to do to care for my mother and handle her finances and other decisions that had to be made. Since she passed away, I no longer need to be on that schedule, so it was time for a real job again.

      November 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

  10. Wishing you all the very best with the new job. I can’t think of too many things that are worse than working at something that makes you miserable.
    The fence shots that you weren’t entirely happy with… if I might make a suggestion? They’re a bit busy. If you notice where your eye goes when you look at them, again there’s really no place to land. Those shots tend to have the eye jumping around quite a bit. There needed to be something for the eye to settle on. I’m not sure what might have worked in that scene…. perhaps as someone suggested, leading the eye along the fence into the distance or perhaps playing with focusing on the fence itself and letting the trees fade out of focus a bit??? Maybe?

    November 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    • Thank you Gunta! The job is going well.

      I tried several angles when shooting the fence. But, just out of the frame in the wide shots are trees draped in grapevines, which made an even busier background. I think that you’re right, blurring the background may have helped, but it’s too late to try now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      November 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm

  11. Thanks for the great photography work in this post, i.e. the great blue heron eating the snake and the mallards in HDR !! And also I wish you all the best in your new job !
    Cheers,
    Michel ๐Ÿ™‚

    November 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    • Thank you very much Michel! The new job is going well.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm

  12. There is no doubt at all that your investment in equipment and all the thinking that you have done about how to use it well is producing excellent results. There are too many pictures that I really liked here to write them all down. (The last of the three fence pictures won the prize for me.)

    November 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    • Thank you Tom! I really tried to work that scene of the fence from every possible angle. It was a very good learning experience, if nothing else.

      November 11, 2014 at 9:29 pm

  13. I wish you the best luck with your new job! ps. Stunning pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

    November 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    • Thank you for your well wishes!

      November 14, 2014 at 1:03 am

  14. Really wonderful photos, I especially liked the wasp’s nest–vivid colors and textures.

    November 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    • Thank you very much Jet!

      November 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

  15. Absolutely beautiful- The wasps nest surrounded by color is awesome!

    November 16, 2014 at 9:07 am

    • Thank you very much Cynthia!

      November 16, 2014 at 11:31 am