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

Muskegon birding March 28th, mostly songbirds

Way back on March 28th, I went to Muskegon to see if I could find any rare migrant birds, no luck there. However, I did get quite a few really good photos of some of the early arriving songbirds, although not every one would consider the common grackle to be a songbird. πŸ˜‰

Male common grackle

Male common grackle

They may produce many sounds, but song isn’t the word that comes to mind when I hear them. I don’t name or classify birds, I just photograph them. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I began at the wastewater treatment facility, where I didn’t find many things to photograph. There was a rough-legged hawk, but too far away for a good photo.

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk

I saw these rocks and their reflections in the water, and shot this specifically to play with in Lightroom.

Lightroom tests

Lightroom tests

It may not look like it, but I spent more time in Lightroom working on that photo than any other so far. Not that there’s a lot of difference between this and the original image, as the original was quite good to begin with. This one was all about very small changes to many of the settings in Lightroom to fine tune an image while learning Lightroom.

I probably should have used some of what I learned in that previous image for these, but what I was after with these was showing the “horns” of a horned lark, which gave it its name.

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

Horned lark

You can see that it was still very early in the morning from the long shadow being cast by the lark. So early that I caught a small herd of deer feeding in one of the fields.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

If you remember the video of the male hooded mergansers displaying for a female…

…here’s two still photos that I shot and had to crop way too far.

Male hooded mergansers

Male hooded mergansers

Male hooded mergansers

Male hooded mergansers

Here’s a few of the geese that were adding their honking to the video…

Canada geese

Canada geese

…and one of the male red-winged blackbirds that provided background sounds as well.

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Sorry for posting three photos of the same bird, but I love the fact that by using Lightroom to tweak these, I can get mostly black birds to look in my photos the way that they look in real life.

My next stop was the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve…

A glorious day!

A glorious day!

…which is on the other side of the Muskegon River from the power-plant that you can see in the background. It was a glorious day as you can see, but still a bit on the cold side.

Sunny and warm, but still lots of ice left

Sunny and warm, but still lots of ice left

I sat under the edge of the shelter that’s there at the preserve, shooting the songbirds in the brush around the shelter.

American robin

American robin

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

American robin

American robin

Male red-winged blackbird

Male red-winged blackbird

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

Common grackle

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

I also found a few things other than birds to shoot photos of.

Larch cones

Larch cones

Larch cones

Larch cones

Catkins

Catkins

Tree leaf bud about to open

Tree leaf bud about to open

Last fall's seed pods

Last fall’s seed pods

Now then, I must apologize for not properly identifying some of those things, but I’m rushing through this post for a reason.

It’s the early pre-dawn hours on Saturday as I’m throwing this post together. Because of changes to my work schedule this week, I ran over to the camera store yesterday afternoon after I finished working for the week, to pick-up the new 7D Mk II camera that I’ve been saving for. My plan was to make the purchase, then come home, unpack the camera, and get the battery charged as I slept. However, they were out of camera only kits at the store, so I have the free spare battery, 32GB SD card, and a HDMI cable that are part of the current promotion from Canon, but no camera. That’s supposed to arrive around noon today, Saturday.

My new plan is this, I’m rushing through this post, which I won’t publish until Sunday night or Monday. As soon as it’s light (and warm) enough this morning, I’m going to go for my regular walk using my “old” 60D bodies. Then, I’ll pick-up the new 7D Mk II, and return to the park to try it out, since I’ve charged the spare battery already. So, by the time that you read this, I’ll have already been out with the new camera, and will have tons of photos to review taken with it. Depending on how the photos from Saturday look, and how quickly I’m able to get the basics of the 7D down, I may well go to Muskegon on Sunday, or at least somewhere other than around home, to shoot another ton of photos to review. At least that’s the plan as of right now. I may very well throw in a photo or two shot with the new camera here towards the end, since I won’t be publishing this post as soon as it’s done.

Anyway, here’s a mute swan that I shot at Muskegon State Park, which was my last stop of the day on this trip.

Mute swan

Mute swan

Mute swan

Mute swan

Mute swan

Mute swan

I walked back to the eagle nest there at the state park, but I couldn’t tell if the female was on the nest or not. On the way to the nest, I shot this photo just to test something out…

Along the trail on a great spring day

Along the trail on a great spring day

…and tried a quick HDR image of the same scene.

Along the trail on a great spring day, HDR

Along the trail on a great spring day, HDR

I think that I didn’t get the exposure settings correct for the HDR version, as there’s not much difference between the two.

An update, so much for the best laid plans of mice, men, and camera buyers. My new camera did not arrive at the store today as scheduled, they had vehicle problems. The camera was coming from Kalamazoo, Michigan, less than an hour south of here. So much for local knowledge and service, this will be the last purchase I make at the local store!

I had called earlier in the week to let them know I’d be there this weekend sometime to pick that camera up, but they didn’t send one then. I’ll tell you, I’m close to cussing some one out, which I don’t make a habit of doing. That store used to be good, but they’ve got a bunch of flakes working there now, you can’t depend on their advice, that’s been proven to be incorrect more often than not, and you can’t depend on them to do what they say they’ll do.

I should go back and rework this post, but I don’t feel like it now, I’m thoroughly ticked off to put it mildly. So, I’m going to throw in a couple of more photos of the bee from my last post….

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

Bee in a crocus flower

…the first field sparrow of the spring…

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

…and an artsy shot that I took this morning, before I learned my camera hadn’t been shipped.

Foggy morning

Foggy morning

It’s a beautiful spring day outside, I’ve already done one walk, as soon as I finish some chores, I’m going to do another. Hopefully, I’ll get better photos of the first meadowlark to show up here this spring…

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

…and the eastern phoebe that has also returned.

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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25 responses

  1. So much to look at, marvel at and enjoy, thank you very much for working so hard.

    April 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    • Thank you Susan! It’s something that I truly enjoy, so it doesn’t seem like work to me.

      April 11, 2015 at 4:02 pm

  2. Have fun with your new camera1 Loved your “Bee in a crocus flower” shot!

    April 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    • Thanks Bob! I’m sure that I’ll have fun with the new camera, if it ever gets here. 😦

      April 11, 2015 at 4:21 pm

  3. That’s too bad about the camera. You’d think with it just an hour away it wouldn’t have been a problem. I probably would have gone and got it myself, right after I let them know how I felt about their service.
    But anyhow, at least you’re seeing some warm weather and getting great shots of the birds.
    I actually thought of you today when I saw a bee rolling around in crocus pollen. It acted like it was in bee ecstasy! I haven’t looked at the photos yet, but I hope they come out as good as yours did.
    I like that moody fog shot!

    April 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I did consider driving down and picking it up myself, but why should I spend the money? Yes, the weather is getting better, slowly. You wouldn’t have guessed that yesterday though. A high of 47 degrees with 45 MPH wind gusts.

      That’s what the bee looked like to me too, as if it was drugged by rolling in the pollen.

      April 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm

  4. Oh Jerry! How disappointing for you! I hope it arrives very soon. I love the foggy morning shot and the horned lark pictures are very good too. Oh, it’s no good! I’m going to have to list all the shots one after another! They are all wonderful.

    April 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    • Thank you Clare! This is the nicest weekend so far this year, and I had it all planned out around getting the new camera. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk.

      April 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm

  5. Still looks pretty cold where you are. The shots of the pollen covered bee look like the personification of Spring though! I marvel at the variety of birdlife you get up there. Always had a fondness for grackles myself. Many years go I watched one, perched on a rock in a pond. A mallard kept swimming up to the grackle. The grackle would fluff its feathers and open its beak at the duck, who would turn away, wait a bit, and try swimming up to the grackle again. The show went on for quite a while.

    No snow here all winter over here in our part of western Oregon.

    April 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    • Thank you Lavinia! It has been a cool spring, but this weekend is exceptionally nice, for a change. I’ve heard that it’s been very dry out there, I hope that you get the needed rain soon.

      April 11, 2015 at 9:12 pm

  6. I enjoyed the foggy shot too among your usual feathered feast.

    April 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I had to put the fog to some use, since the light was hitting it just right.

      April 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm

  7. A shame about the camera not being there. So frustrating for you as your work schedule doesn’t allow for much time off. I really enjoyed the the treasure trove of images you’ve shared again this week so thank you for taking the time to do that. I suspect your grackles make sounds like our Apostle Birds that are dark coloured and hang about in groups. It’s sort of a cackling sound. Thank you for the video of sounds again. Nice to be able to hear what you hear on your walks. Your red-winged blackbirds are so pretty. It was a surprise to me when I first found out that they could have colours other than black and white. You did well to show us the horns on the lark! I also love the foggy picture and the rock reflection ones. And the light through your forest looks lovely. Excellent bird pictures as always!

    April 11, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane!

      The store that messed up my order used to be very good, but it’s been going downhill quickly the past few years, I’ll no longer shop there.

      Our grackles screech, or at least that’s the best description that I can give you. I’ll have to shoot a video of them. πŸ˜‰

      I’m very lucky in that I’m able to spend more time outdoors than most people, and live in an area known for its wildlife. Those are the reasons that I’m able to capture so many different species of birds.

      April 12, 2015 at 7:38 am

  8. I really enjoyed your birds photos and Foggy morning!
    It seems you had good light for almost all of them, the amount of details is amazing.
    Hope your camera will be soon in your hands and you will be glad with your purchase.
    Have a very nice Sunday.

    April 12, 2015 at 4:00 am

    • Thank you Cornel! The secret to good lighting is to get outside every day, and not show people the photos from the days with bad lighting. πŸ™‚ That, and shoot what interests you when you see it.

      April 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

  9. So sorry about the new camera! What a huge disappointment! I hope you get it today and have fun enjoying our nice weather for once! πŸ™‚

    So great to see all the birds returning to your blog. I think those red-winged black birds are fabulous! Also, those bee shots put me over the moon! I think those would be great blown up as a display!

    April 12, 2015 at 7:50 am

    • Thank you Amy! No chance of getting the camera today, the store is closed, maybe Monday. I will be enjoying the nice weather today though, I’m about to head to Muskegon for the day, a little late, but better late than never.

      I cropped the bee photos some to cut out as much of the yellow from the flower as I could, but a few could be blown up to make large prints. I’m still not used to seeing my images on a huge 27 inch display, rather than my old 8 X 11 laptop computer, so I have a harder time relating what I see on the screen these days to print sizes. I learned a lot from that session with the bee, hopefully I’ll do better the next time.

      April 12, 2015 at 7:57 am

  10. What lens did you use to shoot those close-ups of the bee? And were you thinking, I am really close to this bee?! Also loved that shot of the foggy morning–a bit different from your usual subjects, beautifully lit and composed, too.

    April 12, 2015 at 7:59 am

    • Thank you Lori! I used the Tokina 100 mm macro lens for the bee, so my nose was just over a foot from the bee. When there’s a camera in between myself and a subject, my only concern is getting closer, not stung or bitten. πŸ˜‰

      I’m going to be branching out into non-nature photos, once in a while, like the fog photo, or the Geometry photo from the previous post.

      April 12, 2015 at 6:12 pm

  11. Once I got to the part about you not getting your new camera, I could hardly read the rest of the post. Your disappointment is so obvious. If I could drive to Kalamazoo and pick it up for you, I would.

    But, I recovered a bit, on time to fall in love with the foggy morning photo. It just speaks too me ( although I would NEVER be a runner). Early morning foggy walks, though, are awesome.

    Love that whole bee and pollen series. I always knew that bees were essential for pollination, but I’m finally understanding how that all comes together. Thanks for the education.

    April 12, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    • Thank you Judy! I could have driven to Kazoo yesterday, but now it’s principle. I called earlier in the week to check price and availability and told them I’d be there as soon as my paycheck cleared the bank. No problem they said over the phone, no problem, we can have it here Saturday (even though it was a problem when I called apparently), oops, problem, the shuttle didn’t run today. So much for supporting a local store, I get better customer service from B&H Photo out of New York.

      I was digging the early morning foggy walk, and when the jogger began to disappear in the fog, I knew that I had to shoot!

      If it were possible to shoot a macro video, I should have, the bee was rolling around in the pollen like it was a drug or something, deliberately coving itself.

      Those graceless do look mean, don’t they? BTW, I think that I forgot before, but the 19th works for me, any Sunday does, and some Saturdays.

      April 12, 2015 at 6:21 pm

  12. Oh, and I’d be sleeping with one eye open anywhere near that Grackle!

    April 12, 2015 at 5:46 pm

  13. Amazing birds ,the pictures are very vivid .Greetings

    April 13, 2015 at 1:47 am

    • Thank you very much!

      April 13, 2015 at 6:17 am