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

The highlights from several lakeshore trips

This is getting ridiculous, I have photos from 6 trips to the lakeshore saved right now. I also have multiple folders full of photos from around home as well. The photos date back to when the willows were just beginning to bloom, as well as the daffodils and trillium.

Going back through the photos, many of them are the same species of birds, but shot on different days, and quite a few of them aren’t very good. Some of that was the cloudy, wet month of May that we had, some of it was because I was arriving at my first stop of the day at sunrise.

Sunrise at Muskegon

Sunrise at Muskegon

Lone Canada goose at sunrise

Lone Canada goose at sunrise

Ruddy ducks at sunrise

Ruddy ducks at sunrise

Sunrise at Muskegon

Sunrise at Muskegon

Sunrise at Muskegon

Sunrise at Muskegon

Silly me, I can’t help but shoot photos not only of the sunrises, but I try to shoot photos of the birds and other critters that I see then.

If you want a true handle on the amount of wildlife in any area, be there at sunrise! You may think that there’s a lot of wildlife if you get outside around 8 or 9 AM, but that number pales in comparison to what you’ll see when the sun just starts above the horizon. Of course, getting good photos of the wildlife in that light is next to impossible, but that never stops me, as this photo of an obviously very pregnant deer should tell you.

Pregnant whitetail doe

Pregnant whitetail doe

While she foraged for food close to the ground, this buck that was nearby went for the leaves of a tree that he found to taste the best.

Whitetail buck just beginning to grow his antlers

Whitetail buck just beginning to grow his antlers

The photos that I’ve included so far bring up a point, that when I do a lakeshore trip, I have all my photography gear with me in my vehicle. When I get to some places, such as Lane’s Landing for example, I’m limited in what I carry with me, due to the weight of all my gear, and I miss some great shots because of that. Not birds, I always carry a birding set-up, but I miss flowers…

Appendaged Waterleaf

Appendaged Waterleaf

Unknown flowering object

Unknown flowering object

…and insects.

Unidentified skipper

Unidentified skipper

Now that I’ve brought up photography gear, you know that I’ll have to prattle on about that for a while. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of the things that I’ve wanted to do now that I have the new Canon 7D Mk II is to try out the 70-200 mm f/4 L series lens that I have on the new body. I got home from work one day with a little bit of extra time, but not enough to go for a walk, so I decided to try that lens out inside. It was a dark and dreary day anyway, so why not stay inside? I handheld the camera for the first few photos, then decided it was stupid to test out the lens/body combination in low light and high ISO settings. So, I set-up my tripod and dialed the ISO down to 100 and shot a series of photos that way. I am happy to report that the 70-200 mm lens works great on the 7D Mk II, just as the 300 mm L series lens does, none of the problems that I had with those lenses on the 60D bodies that I have.

Since I had the camera on the tripod, and still more time to kill, I dialed in the camera’s built-in flash, and also the EX 380 Speedlite, both on the camera, and as a slave unit. It was a very productive afternoon, as I also learned how to get the mirror lockup to function, as well as other camera functions that I hadn’t tried yet.

I’ve done similar tests the past two days, as I have purchased a set of Kenko extension tubes to use. For those who don’t know, extension tubes can turn a regular lens into a macro lens by moving the lens away from the focal plane of the camera, making it as if the lens can focus closer than it actually can without the extension tube(s). The Kenko set, which consists ofย 12mm, 20mm, 36mm long tubes, costs less than the 20 mm long tube from Canon costs alone. From the reviews, there’s no real difference between the Kenko tubes and those from Canon, and there’s no glass in an extension tube, it is as the name implies, a hollow tube that fits between the camera and lens. These fit all my lenses, I’ve tried them all. The odd thing about the tubes is that they make far more of a difference with short focal length lenses than they do long lenses. Anyway, they add more versatility to every lens I own, here’s a shot of a tiny blue wildflower with all three tubes behind the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) at 150mm.

Tiny blue wildflower

Tiny blue wildflower

And here’s a photo from the Tokina 100 mm macro lens with all three tubes behind it.

Tiny blue wildflower

Tiny blue wildflower

I didn’t crop those photos at all, I wish I could have had something in the frame to show you how small those flowers are, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) across, they look like blue specks scattered across the lawn rather than flowers.

Anyway, I probably won’t use those extension tubes often, but they will come in very handy from time to time in certain situations, so I’d like to have them with me all the time. That goes for the 70-200 mm lens as well, I seldom use it, as I don’t have room for it in the holster camera bag that I’ve been using to carry my gear with me. I think that it’s the second sharpest lens that I own, behind the Tokina macro lens, and I also believe that it delivers the best color rendition, even better than the Tokina. To have a lens like that sitting around and not using it is rather silly.

However, since the 300 mm lens focuses to almost the same distance as the 70-200 mm does, it’s a wiser choice for near macro photos of dragonflies, larger flowers, and butterflies. I’ve gotten some good landscape photos from the Beast set to its shortest focal lengths,, but the 70-200 mm would have been a better choice of lenses.

What I’m getting to is that this week, I’ll be ordering a backpack type camera bag to carry my ever-growing collection of camera gear. No earth shattering news there, but I’m ready for one, as I’m tired of missing shots because I didn’t have the right equipment with me at the time.

Now then, a few words about the 7D Mk II, without a doubt, almost everything it was cracked up to be! I say almost, I can’t say that I see a huge difference in image quality between the 7D and the 60D in low light, High ISO situations. When the Mk II was first released a lot of people, mainly paid Canon spokespersons it turns out, raved about its performance at high ISO settings. Yes, it’s slightly better than the 60D, but I still have to clean up the noise in Lightroom, so really it’s no big deal.

The Auto-focus is something that people raved about which has turned out to be true, no matter how hard birds try to hide from me, if they even breathe hard, the 7D Mk II detects that motion and locks onto them.

Brown thrasher hiding

Brown thrasher hiding

Grasshopper sparrow hiding

Grasshopper sparrow hiding

Since birds are almost always moving, even if they are perched…

Hermit thrush twitching its tail

Hermit thrush twitching its tail

Hermit thrush twitching its tail

Hermit thrush twitching its tail

…the 7D seeks them out so well that it’s almost scary at times. But, I’m sure that you’re all tired of hearing about how well the 7D auto-focuses.

The metering system, which few reviewers mentioned, also is better than I expected, I seldom adjust the exposure, the 7D gets it right on its own.

With the new, faster CF memory cards, I have yet to fill the camera’s buffer while shooting in low-speed burst mode, and I’ve tried.

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

Those are just a few of the photos that I shot of that duck, the same goes for these. You can tell by the sour look on the male’s face that he wasn’t happy about another male showing off for his mate.

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

So, he decided to show the first male who was head duck around there.

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead duck

Redhead duck

I’m not sure, but I think that the female was flirting with the first male behind her mate’s back, both literally, and figuratively.

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

Redhead ducks

A number of waterfowl have hung around longer than they did last year, giving me a chance to get photos of the males in full breeding plumage.

Male ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck

I’ve also been able to observe their behavior more since they’ve been around longer. I’ve seen mallards bobbing their heads up and down while peeping like a chick, but I learned that male northern shovelers do the same thing.

Male northern shoveler

Male northern shoveler

Male northern shoveler

Male northern shoveler

I don’t know what the peeping means, but fights often break out soon after.

Male northern shovelers fighting

Male northern shovelers fighting

Male northern shovelers fighting

Male northern shovelers fighting

Male northern shovelers fighting

Male northern shovelers fighting

It looks as if the butt bite is a universal thing in the waterfowl world, along with the victor making sure that every one knows who won.

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

Male northern shoveler declaring victory

I mentioned how good it was to have all my gear with me, three camera bodies may seem excessive, but I used all three in short order a couple of times. The 7D Mk II to shoot good stills while using the Beast.

Dunlin

Dunlin

Then using the first 60D body with the 300 mm lens to shoot a video.

And finally, the second 60D body with the Tokina 100 mm lens to get a wider view of mallards wondering what all those small brown birds were that had surrounded the mallards.

Mallards watching assorted shorebirds

Mallards watching assorted shorebirds

I’ve already thrown in too many photos, and I haven’t even gotten to any of the cuteย ones yet.

Baby fox squirrel

Baby fox squirrel

Or, the good ones.

Common yellowthroat singing

Common yellowthroat singing

So, I guess that they’ll have to wait until the next post.

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

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21 responses

  1. Great post. Enjoy the extenders. I use the two smaller ones handheld with a 105mm lens. Does wonders.

    June 3, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    • Thank you Victor! I do think that the tubes will be a welcome addition to my kit.

      June 4, 2015 at 12:02 am

  2. I must look into those tubes.

    June 3, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    • Thank you Tom! Those tubes would allow you to use a longer lens without getting down on the ground for some of the photos you shoot, and they’re reasonably priced.

      June 4, 2015 at 12:04 am

  3. I love those sunrise shots-really rich color saturation in the first two especially.
    That tiny blue flower is one of the speedwells but there are so many that I’m not sure which one. I do know that they are indeed tiny though. I’ve had trouble with them even with the Panasonic Lumix, so shooting them with a 150mm lens is a neat trick!
    The baby fox squirrel is cute but I think my favorite shot is the Dunlin. It’s not as colorful of the others but it’s a strikingly pretty bird and something about it appeals to me.
    I hope you’ll be able to find some more time for yourself soon.

    June 3, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! The sunrise shots were all done with one of the 60D bodies, I know how to set them up for low light shooting.

      The best part of shooting the speedwell with the Beast at 150 mm was that I could stand up to get that shot, the rest were all done while laying down. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Many of the shorebirds appear drab from a distance, but are boldly patterned if seen up close.

      I’d have more time for myself if I wasn’t working extra hours in order to buy the things that I want. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      June 4, 2015 at 12:13 am

  4. It appears as though you’re enjoying the new camera equipment!

    June 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    • Thank you Bob! I am enjoying it, when I have the time.

      June 4, 2015 at 12:01 am

  5. Oh my, I have to keep going back to those beautiful sunrises, Jerry! I’m an early riser and love catching a sunrise so it’s good to know I’ll see plenty of wildlife if I ever make it to Michigan in summer. Beautiful deer! Deer are not native here but due to escapees from deer farms, we now have some breeding in the wild. It seems quite remarkable to me as they were so exotic when I was a child. We only ever saw a couple in zoos. Great post, as always. ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 4, 2015 at 2:58 am

    • Thank you Jane! The deer are just getting their summer coats of fur, which is redder than the deer in the photos, they’re even prettier in the summer. There should be plenty of wildlife at dawn in Australia, it’s when the night critters are going to bed, and the day critters are waking up.

      June 4, 2015 at 3:11 pm

  6. Magical sunrise pictures, the deer and the baby fox squirrel were lovely to see and all those actions pictures of ducks, you were busy with your camera.

    June 4, 2015 at 3:18 am

    • Thank you Susan! I’ve been very busy, I shot over 1,000 photos in three days, then had to weed through all of them.

      June 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

  7. I really loved the sunrise shots!! I just took a moment to sit and look at them and could really feel the serenity right through my computer screen!! Also, I enjoyed both series of duck shots. Those shoveler’s bills look fierce! I don’t think I would want to get bit on the butt by one! LOL I also enjoyed the video of the dunlins, still on my must see list!!

    June 4, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    • Thanks Amy! You may not have thought those sunrises so serene if you had heard all the birds singing, geese honking, ducks quacking, gulls screaming, and so on and so on. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      In my next post, I hope to pass on some tips for identifying ducks, and going out on a limb, shorebirds, which should also held people to ID many other birds as well.

      June 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      • I think for us nature/outdoors lovers, even the singing, honking, quacking, etc. brings its own kind of serenity to our souls. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m one of those weird ones who doesn’t mind having the birds singing wake me up at 5:30 a.m. ๐Ÿ™‚

        June 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm

  8. I love sunrise and sunset photos.

    That Ruddy duck is interesting with that sky blue bill!

    Thanks for the new Dunlin photo. I haven’t seen ours yet this year, but sure looks like the ones I saw last year in our orchard.

    June 4, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! The ruddy ducks are cute little things, as are the dunlin. I hope that you’re able to see both of them in person soon.

      June 5, 2015 at 12:26 am

  9. Love it when you post a sequence of shots! Couldn’t help but think that the redheads were practing their synchronized swimming routine for the Olympics.

    I’ve never been big on macro photography, but find that I really love looking at the intricacies of petals, dew, pollen, and all the things that you capture close up. So many things to stop and ponder.

    Hope you never tire of posting your blog, Jerry. It’s a treasure.

    June 5, 2015 at 8:49 am

    • Thank you Judy! I probably included too many of the redheads, but it’s not every day that I see one, and seldom with their wings spread.

      Maybe you kind of like my macro photos because I let the beauty of the flowers be enough, and I don’t try to get too artsy with my images? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Being the curious type, I want to know what the smaller parts of the flowers look like.

      A treasure? Hardly, just a guy who loves nature and has a camera.

      June 5, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      • You might be right about your macros…..I like seeing an image of something that I can identify. Love the sharpness, but I’m happy you leave that fake artsy glow off!

        June 5, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      • I’ll have to remember that, I was getting the urge to add the fake artsy glow to a few. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        June 5, 2015 at 5:25 pm