Lake Michigan birding March 22nd, The long boring version
It’s Sunday afternoon as I start this, the wind is howling like banshee outside in advance of the snow that’s forecast to arrive later. I’m sure glad that I got my walk in early this morning!
But, that is this weekend, the weather was just about as cold as it was yesterday and today last weekend when I went to the Lake Michigan shoreline. I arrived in Grand Haven just as it was beginning to get light. I had planned to go back and get better images of the breakwater and lighthouse while the lights were on for some time, ever since I tried shooting the scene handheld several weeks ago. There wasn’t as much ice left on the breakwater as there had been before, but I still set-up my tripod and camera to capture the scene anyway.
That’s the HDR version, otherwise, the photo is practically devoid of color, other than the white lights. I shot several series of photos to get that one HDR image, and I was about to fold the tripod up to put it away, when I saw the sunrise beginning to show signs of being a good one, in the other direction. So, despite my fingers going numb from the cold, I set-up to shoot this one, more for practice than anything else. I haven’t done much night photography since I switched from film to digital, and I thought that the practice would be just the ticket.
The only reason that I’m including that one is so that you can see what Grand Haven State Park is like. The yellow lines on the pavement denote the “campsites”. You should see that park in the summer, the “campers” are packed in there like sardines! Yet, that campground is almost always full, just because it is right on the beach. Not my cup of tea in any way, shape, or form.
I knew that there wasn’t time to drive to a more scenic spot, so I did the best that I could from that location.
Then, much to my surprise, the red in the sky extended well past me to the west, over the breakwater, so I turned around again for this one from my last post.
Okay then, time for me to prattle on a little. As you know, I’ve had my new iMac and Lightroom for just over a month, and I’m continuing to learn new things all the time. One thing that I’ve learned, and this may sound silly, is to not sit as close to the computer screen as I used to when I still used the old laptop. The display of this new iMac is huge, when I’m working on a photo in Lightroom, the image is a little larger than an eight by ten print, which shows all the flaws in an image even before I crop the image at all. Taking a cropped image up to that size makes it look as though the quality of the image is the pits, but it isn’t really as bad as it appears to be.
And, there is so much to learn in Lightroom, I found another series of tutorials online, these are from Adobe, the company that publishes Lightroom. They are much shorter than the two tutorials that I posted links to in the past, these average about twenty minutes long. However, they sure pack a lot into a very short time, I’m glad that I started with the two longer videos from B&H Photo to get to know Lightroom, now, I can almost keep up as I learn new tricks for using it in these videos from Adobe.
And, there are so many tricks to learn in Lightroom, not just editing photos, but storing, organizing, and finding the exact photo that one is looking for. There’s often several ways to accomplish any task, so the learning continues.
Lightroom is an amazing program, but I’d rather not turn this blog into yet another “how to” blog about Lightroom, there seems to be plenty of sources for tips about using it already available.
News flash, I came home from work on Monday afternoon after working a fourteen hour shift, only to find that my apartment had been flooded again, this time by a pipe that burst in my neighbors apartment. This flood was much worse than the one back in January, the damage from which they had never gotten around to repairing yet. Just as well, they would have had to do most of it all over again.
To make a long story short, I spent three nights in motels, two nights at my expense, one night on the company that I work for expense, as I did an overnight run to southern Ohio since I couldn’t stay in my apartment anyway. So, that’s the reason I was late replying to comments here, and got behind on other people’s blogs. Sorry, I had no internet access for most of this week. That’s also put me way behind in my blogging.
As it happened, I worked close enough to what I can legally work for a week by Thursday afternoon, that I have Friday off, and don’t have to return to work until Monday evening, a nice long Easter weekend for me. I went for a walk in the morning, talked to the maintenance supervisor about how the repairs had or had not been done, and I’ve been doing some major cleaning since then. A maintenance person showed up to do the last of the needed repairs, but most of the clean up of my property remains for me to do. The only thing the maintenance people care about is the company’s property, the carpeting and drywall, my stuff is my problem. Oh well, at least nothing was damaged.
Now then, back to the trip at hand.
Because it was still so cold out, I drove to several spots in Grand Haven where I could scope out the Grand River and other waterways, including Harbor Island, using my binoculars to see if there were any waterfowl or other birds worth trying to photograph. The only photos that I shot during this portion of the trip were of the first killdeer I’d seen this spring.
I drove to the north, to the Mona Lake channel and Lake Harbor Park to see what, if anything there was worth photographing. I found the first song sparrow of the year there.
A few common mergansers.
My first American coot of the year.
Although it was still a bit early for good light for photography, as you can see. I walked the trail along the Mona Lake channel to the Lake Michigan shore, pausing to shoot one of the last American tree sparrows of the spring, as these will be heading north to their breeding grounds soon.
Most of the ice on Lake Michigan had melted, but what was left had been piled up along the shore by the wind, so I shot a few photos, using the wrong lens.
I shot those using the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens), but I wished that I had taken one of my short lenses with me for those photos, to give you all a wider view of the icebergs on the lake.
Anyway, as I was walking back to the parking area, I saw a juvenile bald eagle flying in my direction. I was watching it through tree branches as it approached, so I couldn’t start shooting as soon as I saw it, but that worked out well, for I had time to get the camera and the Beast set-up for when the eagle cleared the trees.
That wasn’t cropped at all, that’s how close to me the eagle flew as it cleared the trees.
The eagle continued on, out over Mona Lake, I could post a few more not as good shots of the eagle as it did, but then something happened that was more interesting. One of the many gulls hanging around the area began attacking the eagle.
The eagle turned around, flying back in my direction, with the gull hot on its tail.
Who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll catch something like this happening when there’s good light so my photos will be better. But, that’s the way it goes for me. I guess that I’m luckier than most, as I see these things more often than most people, but seldom in good light. I do find it interesting that on one day, the eagles will be chasing the gulls, looking for an easy meal, the next day, the gulls will be chasing the eagles away. How do they decide who is going to chase who each day?
Anyway, my next stop was the Muskegon Lake channel, then it was on to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, and I’m not going to add any of the few photos that I shot at either of those locations. The light was still poor, and the things that I saw weren’t that noteworthy. That changed at the next stop, the Bear Lake channel to Muskegon Lake.
That’s not one of my usual stops, as there’s no public access there, other than the parking lot of the Bear Lake Tavern. Since it was still relatively early on a Sunday morning, the tavern was closed, so I stopped to shoot a few photos of the mallards there. The weather was finally getting better, and playing with the mallards seemed like a good way to get some practice.
Since I had all my camera gear with me in my car, I had switched to using one body with just the 300 mm L series lens on one body, and the 70-200 mm L series lens on the other, as I could easily get too close to the mallards with either lens.
I was a bit surprised to see a pair of Pekin ducks there…
…and I was even more surprised when this guy came out from under one of the boat ducks along the channel to pose for me!
So, I hung around the area, shooting the mallards, the wood duck, and a few gulls that showed up, trying various lenses and settings for these.
The last two images were shot with the Beast, as I had switched back to that lens as I prepared to leave.
My last stop of the day was the portion of Muskegon State Park on the north side of the Muskegon Lake channel. The only photos that I shot were of a male northern cardinal as he sang.
So, I switched my camera over to shoot video, for those of you who have never heard a cardinal’s song.
Not great, but do you know how hard it is to hold a camera with the Beast on it stationary at 500 mm when pointed nearly straight up and at arm’s length?
So, that wraps up another one, it’s early on Saturday morning now, I have my apartment in a livable condition for now, although I still have a lot of work left to do. But, I’m going to take this morning off, and head to the Pickerel Lake Nature Preserve to see what I can find there while the weather is fairly nice. The forecast is for rain/snow mixed tomorrow, that’s apartment cleaning weather.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!