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

Aman Park 2015, A bit early, sorry Allen

In recent years, I’ve gone to Aman Park, just west of the city of Grand Rapids every weekend until I caught the trilliums there at their peak. Here are a few links to the posts that I’ve done in past springs.

https://quietsolopursuits.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/aman-park-on-the-shores-of-the-trillium-seas-2013-part-i/

https://quietsolopursuits.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/aman-park-on-the-shores-of-the-trillium-seas-2013-part-ii/

 https://quietsolopursuits.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/aman-park-on-the-shores-of-the-trillium-seas/

The number of trilliums in bloom is quite amazing, but I was a week too early this year. This year, I wasn’t that worked up about hitting the same park every weekend in order to do yet another similar posts to those I’ve done in the past. So, even though I was a few days too early this year, I didn’t return the next weekend to catch more to the trillium while they were open. In fact, I arrived at Aman Park at mid-morning, and I had to fool around for a while waiting for almost all the wildflowers that I shot for this post to open for the day.

That was okay, I had the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) on the new Canon 7D Mk II to play with, photographing birds and a few other things, including some woodpecker porn.

Red=bellied woodpeckers mating

Red-bellied woodpeckers mating

Since I started with a bird photo, I’ll get the rest of them out of the way, then get to the flowers later.

Red-bellied woodpeckers

Red-bellied woodpeckers

Female Red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied woodpecker in flight

Female Red-bellied woodpecker in flight

When I can get the 7D locked in on a bird, it tracks it very well as you can see. Here’s another example, although the image isn’t as good, since the bird was a tiny blue-grey gnatcatcher flitting about in the treetops.

Blue-grey gnatcatcher flitting about in the treetops

Blue-grey gnatcatcher flitting about in the treetops

That’s one of those bad photos that amaze me, the 7D tracked the gnatcatcher as it flew through the branches rather than focusing on the branches. However, I don’t want to rave too much about my new camera yet, I still have a lot to learn. Instead, here’s the rest of the wildlife photos, mostly birds, from this day.

Male Red-bellied woodpecker

Male Red-bellied woodpecker

Male Red-bellied woodpecker

Male Red-bellied woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

Grey squirrel, black morph

Grey squirrel, black morph

Grey squirrel, black morph

Grey squirrel, black morph

Bumblebee

Bumblebee

Turtles basking in the sun

Turtles basking in the sun

As you can see, it was a bright sunny day, what you can’t tell from the photos is that it was the warmest day in nearly six months. That had the flowers opening up as the day progressed, so here they are, starting with Dutchman’s breeches.

Dutchman's breeches

Dutchman’s breeches

Dutchman's breeches

Dutchman’s breeches

Dutchman's breeches

Dutchman’s breeches

Next up, a few of the spring beauties that I saw.

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Hepatica is a small flower that comes in several different colors, so here are a few that I found on this day.

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

Hepatica

I should note that my ability to ID flowers isn’t the best, so I may be making a few mistakes here and there. Some people may say that it’s a mistake to lay on the ground shooting photos of small flowers, because you could come face to face with one of these.

Garter snake

Garter snake

I tried to slither closer to the snake, but it being much more experienced in slithering than I, was able to slither away from me. 😉

I’m not positive, but I believe that these are cutleaf toothwort.

Cutleaf toothwort?

Cutleaf toothwort?

Cutleaf toothwort?

Cutleaf toothwort?

Here’s my worst flower photo of the day.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel

I think that the part of this day that I’ll remember the most is how quickly the flowers opened as the day went on. I had arrived at mid-morning to find only the Dutchman’s breeches out, with just a few of the other flowers just starting to open. By early afternoon, there were flowers everywhere, although I was a few days too early to catch the trillium at their peak. My new 7D has the ability to do time-lapse series of photos built-in, one of these days I’ll have to test it out to show a flower opening.

Anyway, here’s a couple of photos of trout lilies.

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

Trout lily

As the day progressed, the bloodroot flowers opened.

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

The real stars are the trillium, and I tried to get a few shots to show just how many there are, but, I brought the wrong lenses with me for that. In addition to the Beast and the 100 mm macro lens, I had taken the 10-18 mm lens, but it was really too wide for a good shot, I wished that I had taken the 15-85 mm lens instead, or even the 70-200 mm lens.

Trillium

Trillium

My heart wasn’t into it anyway, since only one-third to half of the trillium were open, so you wouldn’t be able to see just how many there are no matter which lens I had brought with me. Still, I tried a couple of shots with the Beast at 150 mm.

Trillum

Trillium

Trillum

Trillium

A sidenote, I found another park, quite by accident, which has almost as many trillium as Aman Park does, it’s Grose Park in northern Ottawa County. I took the back roads home from Muskegon one day, and found this new to me park because I saw a park boundary sign, and had to check it out. It’s a small park, and I imagine quite busy in the summer since it is on a lake, but there were few people there in the spring, just me and the trillium.

Trillium

Trillium

That was also shot with the Beast on the 7D, and I’m amazed at the quality of that image. There’s more to the 7D than just its superior focusing abilities!

Anyway, a few close-ups of the trillium before I end this one. I’ve learned two things shooting this type of photo. One, is that Lightroom uses color to determine what it thinks is a shadow in a photo. If there’s a shadow on a light-colored flower, I haven’t found a way in Lightroom to lessen the shadow, yet. The other side of that coin is that Lightroom assumes that anything black in an image is shadow, so adjusting the exposure of images of black subjects can be tricky at times.

Trillium

Trillium

I have also learned that the LED panel light that I have isn’t bright enough to overcome the shadows either, so I spent a lot of time looking for blooms that were just right as far as lighting.

Trillium

Trillium

Trillium

Trillium

These next two probably shouldn’t be included in this post, they are of henbit flowers that I found here at home after I returned from Aman Park, but I like these, so I’m going to add them in here.

Henbit

Henbit

Henbit

Henbit

In a way, I feel bad about not going back again the next weekend to catch the trillium at their peak, but it’s also the peak time of the year for birding. Since the trees are just beginning to leaf out, it’s easier to see and photograph birds, it’s the peak of the spring migration, and the birds are also in their breeding plumage, making it easier to ID them.

Sorry Allen, I know that you like seeing the masses of trillium, maybe next year. I learned a good deal on this excursion, starting with this. Early morning light may be great for most subjects, but if the flowers haven’t opened for the day, it’s rather silly to be there before they open. During the mid-day hours, the shadows from the trees are something that has to be considered when going for the wider shots of the fields of flowers. In looking everything over, I concluded that late afternoon would be the best time to go to Aman Park to photograph the flowers. I also have a better idea which lenses I should bring with me to get the best photos of the flowers. It was so much easier when I used the Canon Powershot point and shoot that went from very wide-angle to 40X without changing lenses. 😉

I have made a note in my calendar for next year, which reminds me of something else.

Because my old laptop computer was on its last legs, I hadn’t been using it as much to do online research, or to keep track of events and places the way that I had in the past. Now, I’m just getting back into the swing of doing those things with the new iMac. It’s only been in the last two weeks that I put Google Earth on the iMac, to check out the small park that I mentioned earlier, and to view the area of Lane’s Landing and other parts of the Muskegon State Game Area to find possible pathways to walk while looking for birds.

I had forgotten what an invaluable tool a computer connected to the Internet can be in finding good places to go to find wildlife. On some rainy day, I need to spend some time tracking down many of the links that I had on my old computer, and adding them as bookmarks on my new one.

Anyway, before I go too far afield on that subject, I think that it’s time to stick a fork into this post, it’s done.

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

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33 responses

  1. What a feast of flowers, I liked the henbit the best, what a curious name. You were clever to get that garter snake too in such an elegant pose.

    May 7, 2015 at 11:57 am

    • Thank you Susan! There was nothing clever about the snake photo, it was slithering past me as I was on the ground shooting flowers, and it looked up to see what I was up to.

      May 7, 2015 at 12:43 pm

  2. Beautiful photos as always, Jerry. The hepatica flowers have a crystalline look about them.

    That is a pretty good snake photo, in spite of him slithering away on you. We seem to mainly have gopher snakes here on the farm.

    May 7, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    • Thank you Lavinia! I think that the hepatica photos are some of the best I’ve ever shot.

      We have mostly garter snakes around here, once in a while I see a gopher snake, but not often.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:36 am

  3. Very nice job with the wildflowers. Especially liked the extreme close ups.

    May 7, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    • Thank you Bob! Actually, I tired not to get as close to the flowers as I could, all I wanted was to fill the frame.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:39 am

  4. I’m not disappointed at all Jerry. That’s still an impressive display of trilliums. We don’t have white ones here so it’s always great to see them. At the second park the trilliums are being crowded out by may apple plants-more than I’ve ever seen in a single place.
    I like the Dutchman’s breeches too. That’s another one that I never see here.
    I’m not sure about the Cutleaf toothwort but I know that the yellow flowered shrub isn’t a witch hazel. I think it might be a spicebush. That’s another one I never see!

    May 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    • Thank you Allen! about all we have are white trillium, any other color is extremely rare around here. I’ll have to shoot a few shots of some thick may apples for you, such places are easy to find around here.

      So that wasn’t a witch hazel? I found another similar flower, but greenish colored, with more intricate flower parts, I hope to post the photo soon.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:44 am

      • No, those flower petals aren’t anything like witch haze but I think if you Google spicebush (Lindera benzoin) you’ll see something similar to what you have.

        May 8, 2015 at 5:35 am

      • Thanks again, I’ll have to do some investigating this weekend.

        May 8, 2015 at 10:42 pm

  5. Like Lavinia, I am fascinated by the sparkling petals of the spring beauties and the hepaticas. I also love the close-up of the henbit flower. The seventh shot of the male red-bellied woodpecker is superb!

    May 7, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    • Thank you Clare! I am quite proud of the flower photos in that post. A year of playing with the macro lens is finally paying off.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:46 am

  6. First, the collection of wildflowers are stunning Jerry. And of course – woodpecker porn. Who could ask for anything more entertaining.

    Then..you’ve come a long way baby ! 5D Mark II ? You have indeed graduated, along with your Lightroom adventures. I am so very proud of you and thrilled that you are enjoying the growth in your art. Congrats and keep shooting.

    May 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    • Thank you Emily! I have a new 7D Mk II, not a 5D, I went with a crop sensor for birding. And yes, I am slowly learning Lightroom.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:47 am

      • Oh..Helen Keller. Bet you love it. It takes a while to get lightroom down, so keep playing, you’ll really get the hang of it.

        May 8, 2015 at 7:56 am

      • Thanks Emily. I do pretty well at editing in Lightroom already, but there’s so much more to it than just that.

        May 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm

  7. What a lovely collection of flowers. The henbit is particularly fine and must have been very tricky to shoot.

    May 7, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    • Thank you Tom! After a year or more of shooting photos with the macro lens, I’m finally getting some good shots from it. Not that the lens was the problem, it was me.

      May 8, 2015 at 2:49 am

      • Practice makes perfect. I am going to try practising with your kind of dedication one of these days.

        May 8, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      • Thanks, but I hope that you don’t do things my way. I have to fail multiple times before I grasp what I’m doing wrong. 😉

        May 8, 2015 at 10:46 pm

  8. Many of these flowers are new to me and you’ve photographed them so beautifully. Of course we don’t have woodpeckers and squirrels here – the black morph looks very odd to me! I would have been delighted to get the snake shot. I don’t have many reptile shots despite living in a country full of them. Although, I am very happy to avoid the highly venomous ones.
    Happy birding, Jerry.

    May 7, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! You may not have squirrels or woodpeckers, but you have kangaroos and wallabies, so I’d call it even. 😉

      In Michigan, we have one slightly venomous snake, but they only grow to 6 to 8 inches long, and no one has ever died from their bite that I know off. So I don’t have to worry too much about any snake that I see. I’d be a lot more careful if there were the extremely deadly snakes here that you have there.

      May 8, 2015 at 3:01 am

  9. Great collection, Jerry. Nothing like a cup of free ch roast and a bit of woodpecker porn to get the morning started correctly.

    Love the wildflower shots where the light is just so, and their translucence just glows. You might not notice it so much when you see them in person, but it’s quite striking to see the photos.

    Haven’t seen any big trillium blasts in the parks on this end of town. They are special, aren’t they?

    May 8, 2015 at 7:44 am

    • Sometimes, I hate autocorrect! Don’t know what free roast is, but love my French roast!

      May 8, 2015 at 7:46 am

    • Thank you Judy! I worked long and hard to get the photos of the flowers that I did, finding specimens that were good, with good light, and trying to get the best angle for each.

      May 8, 2015 at 10:44 pm

  10. One of my favorite places to see spring flowers in Michigan is Fern Wood near South Bend. It’s also really close to St. Joseph, which has some great beach views ;p

    May 9, 2015 at 12:47 am

    • Thank you for the comment and the tip! I need to visit a few of the places like the one you mentioned that are south of where I live.

      May 9, 2015 at 7:10 am

  11. It’s always a pleasure seeing what you’ve managed to shoot on your walks.

    May 9, 2015 at 12:55 am

    • Thank you Gunta!

      May 9, 2015 at 7:10 am

  12. Great wildflower photos, especially the spring beauties. “Bird porn” made me laugh! 😀

    May 14, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    • Thank you Amy! I’m sad that some of the early flowers are gone already, but they’ve been replaced by equally as beautiful species.

      May 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      • We sure have had an odd spring — first it didn’t want to arrive at all with record low temps, then we suddenly get summer heat with storms, now back to unseasonably cool. The poor plants probably don’t know what to do!

        May 14, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      • Thank you Amy! This weather pattern can change anytime as far as I’m concerned, hot again this weekend, then cool again, I wish it would make up its mind.

        May 15, 2015 at 12:09 am