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

More highlights from several lakeshore trips

Where do I start? I’m attempting to reduce the photos that I shot while on several trips to the Lake Michigan shore down to just one post, and it’s tough deciding what photos to use, and which ones to delete.

For example, I’ve posted quite a few photos of northern shovelers lately, but does that mean that I shouldn’t post one of my best of one of the shovelers in flight?

Male northern shoveler in flight

Male northern shoveler in flight

What about ruddy ducks, I’ve posted a lot of images of them lately as well, but if I catch one napping on the rocks and get very close to it before it notices me, I think that I should add it here.

Female ruddy duck in the rain

Female ruddy duck in the rain

Or, if I catch one flying near a mallard, I think that I shot post it to help out those who are learning how to identify birds. Not only is the mallard much larger, it’s long and lean compared to the ruddy duck. Its short, wide wings are really pronounced when viewed next to a mallard.

Ruddy duck and male mallard in flight

Ruddy duck and male mallard in flight

Even without a mallard near it, you can still see that the ruddy ducks have a completely different profile while they are flying, along with a completely different pattern of flapping their wings.

Ruddy duck in flight

Ruddy duck in flight

Not to mention those oversized feet!

Should I leave out my sunrise photos, even if the sunrise was less than I had hoped that it would be?

Sunrise at the lagoons

Sunrise at the lagoons

What if there’s a rare bird in the sunrise photo, such as a pelican?

American white pelican at sunrise

American white pelican at sunrise

Should I delete the photo where I zoomed in on the pelican, and cropped it severely also?

American white pelican

American white pelican

It isn’t every day that one sees a pelican, or an angry sun, just after sunrise.

Angry sun

Angry sun

What about the zoomed in version, where the sun looks even angrier?

Angrier sun

Angrier sun

Then, there’s this photo, shot before any of the sunrise photos.

Killdeer before sunrise

Killdeer before sunrise

I didn’t add any effects from Lightroom, other than basic exposure correction. The killdeer would stand perfectly still, until a wave broke over the rock it was standing on. Then, the killdeer would pluck any goodies the wave had brought, and then return to standing perfectly still again. The shutter speed was 1/3 of a second, long enough to blur the motion of the water, but other than the one feather blowing in the wind, the bird was still enough for a reasonably sharp photo. It also shows the effectiveness of image stabilization, for that was shot with me bracing the camera against the door of my car. Other than a great blue heron stalking its prey, I’ve never seen a bird stand as motionless as that killdeer, which I found quite interesting.

I go to the lakeshore for the birds, but I see other things, should I leave them out?

Female snapping turtle laying eggs

Female snapping turtle laying eggs

English plantain

English plantain

Black racer?

Black racer?

Early sunflower?

Early sunflower?

Early sunflowers?

Early sunflowers?

Red clover

Red clover

And if I do include subjects other than birds, how many should I use? Take deer for example, one good shot of a doe and last year’s fawn?

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

Should I stop there, or include one that shows the graceful power of a deer as it runs?

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

Or, should I include this portrait…

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

…as she stopped to check me out, and to remember a moment, which I missed…

Whitetail deer after being attacked by a red-winged blackbird

Whitetail deer after being attacked by a red-winged blackbird

…because I thought that I had enough photos of the deer and was zooming the lens out in preparation of putting it away, until I saw the blackbird smack the deer in the butt, sending the deer on its way.

What about this one of a buck just starting to grow what look like they will be a good set of antlers?

Whitetail buck

Whitetail buck

He’d better hide better than that come hunting season!

I’ve been telling myself that I shouldn’t go to the lakeshore as often, but that’s the area that works best when the weather won’t cooperate. As you can see, most of these photos were shot in low light, but they weren’t all shot at sunrise. The weather pattern here remains the same, with some rain almost every day. Continuing a trend, we’ve had rain 10 of the last 11 days. No complete washout, when it rains all day, but scattered on and off showers every now and then. Along the lakeshore, I can stay in my vehicle while it’s raining, then take short walks in between the showers, rather than be out in the rain. The funny thing is that I don’t usually mind walking in the rain, but not when it’s an everyday thing, this is getting ridiculous!

The places that I go along the lakeshore are relatively close together, so if I time it right, I can move from one place to the next while it’s raining, and once the rain let’s up, wander around a bit to see what I can find.

I have to throw in a short segment about my project to photograph every species of bird regularly seen in Michigan. I have photos that would put me to the two-thirds mark as far as species photographed, which is quite an achievement, not that I’m bragging. 😉 That’s in just over two years since the idea to do a photo life list hit me. I haven’t posted anything towards that series in a while, since I don’t have the time to do so right now. Besides, with all the flowers, wildlife, and other subjects to shoot, I’m still way behind on my posting anyway. I’ll resume that series this winter, when I don’t have many other photos to share.

But, I have to say a few things about taking on a project like that, and what I’m learning from it. One thing is how to shoot better photos, of course. But, it’s been so much more than that. Learning the behaviors of the different species of birds that allows me to get as close to them as I do. Learning new places to go, and coming to appreciate different types of habitat much more.

I grew up in the woods, and I’ve always leaned towards hiking in heavily wooded areas, such as the Pigeon River Country. I avoided swamps and marshes, especially in the summer when the skeeters, deer flies, and black flies can make you wish that you had never set foot outdoors. Well, in the spring and fall, before or after the bugs, those are beautiful places in their own right, and home to many species of birds that I never knew existed.

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat

Common yellowthroat singing

Common yellowthroat singing

Swamp sparrow

Swamp sparrow

Swamp sparrow singing

Swamp sparrow singing

Before starting the My Photo Life List project, I avoided open fields, as I thought that they were boring, hardly, for I’m finding just the opposite to be true, if I take the time to learn what there is to see in an open field.

Male dickcissel singing

Male dickcissel singing

Male dickcissel singing

Male dickcissel singing

Those were shot on two different days, obviously, the reason that I included the second one is that after that male finished his song, he’d look high and low to see if any females were responding, which I found to be very humorous.

Male dickcissel looking for a mate

Male dickcissel looking for a mate

Another thing that I’ve learned from taking on the My Photo Life List project is to appreciate “my” part of the state of Michigan even more than I did. When I first thought of that project, I thought that I’d be traveling to different parts of Michigan much more to get as far as what I have. Yes, I’ve gotten a few species of birds on my trips north, but most have come within 45 miles of home. Really surprising has been the number of species that I’ve gotten while doing my daily walks from my apartment, when I’m never more than two miles from the door of my apartment.

I thought that I was observant before, but since starting this project, my eyes have been truly opened to just what there is to see close to home, if one takes the time to look. It also begs the question, why didn’t I see these species of birds before? Well, some of them I probably had seen before, but never took the time to look them up in a field guide to positively identify them. To me, any small brown bird that hopped on the ground most of the time was a sparrow, the exact species didn’t matter to me. There was also a time when I was hiking at Muskegon State Park when I saw what I thought looked like a flock of pelicans flying high overhead, but I had no idea at the time that pelicans were ever seen in Michigan, so I assumed that my eyes were tricking me. Little did I know at the time that pelicans do visit my neck of the woods regularly.

Another thing that I’m learning is that you have to be careful driving, or even walking around this time of year, for there are lot’s of these around.

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

The only way that I know that it’s a spotted sandpiper is because mom was nearby, having a fit. That little thing was so small that any gust of wind would blow it over, so I shot one more photo…

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

Just hatched spotted sandpiper

…and then turned around.

I’m also happy to report that there seems to be a bumper crop of these this year.

Juvenile upland sandpiper

Juvenile upland sandpiper

Juvenile upland sandpiper

Juvenile upland sandpiper

Their dad would fly around me, at one moment looking as if he were going to attack…

Upland sandpiper in flight

Upland sandpiper in flight

…and the next, he would pretend that he was injured and flutter to the ground, a good distance away from his young.

Upland sandpiper in flight

Upland sandpiper in flight

Mom, on the other hand, placed herself between her young and the big bad photographer, ready to take him on if he approached to close.

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Female upland sandpiper defending her young

Once she thought that her young were safely hidden in the grass, she changed tactics, and performed the “broken wing” act, to lead me away from the young.

Female upland sandpiper pretending to be injured

Female upland sandpiper pretending to be injured

Female upland sandpiper pretending to be injured

Female upland sandpiper pretending to be injured

Once I had moved far enough away, she’d give one last look to make sure that I was leaving, then rejoin her young in the tall grass.

Female upland sandpiper

Female upland sandpiper

On the opposite end of the cuteness scale from the young sandpipers are these birds.

Turkey vulture

Turkey vulture

But, I can’t end on that note, so here’s one more photo, just to brighten up your day.

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Yes, that’s how far behind I am, that photo shows the leaves just beginning to emerge, and the Juncos were still around before heading north to their summer homes. As it’s now getting towards the end of June, some of the birds have already begun to molt into their fall plumage. This year is racing past me at a blinding speed, but it’s my own fault, for working as much as I have this year, because I’m greedy. However, there’s a reason for that right now.

I returned to the Muskegon area again yesterday, and while I didn’t find many birds to photograph, the subjects that I did find to shoot really drove home the need to have the correct equipment for the subject at hand. Luckily, for what I found to photograph, I did have the right stuff with me, for I used more of my camera gear yesterday than I have in a very long time. I have one more lens that I want to purchase, and a few more accessories, so I’m willing to work long hours right now to complete my kit, then, I’ll back off from work, and spend more time enjoying life.

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

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20 responses

  1. nice catch 🙂

    June 22, 2015 at 4:13 am

    • Thank you!

      June 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

  2. Well, I’m glad you do make the lakeshore trips as the nature shots from there are wonderful. It must be frustrating to have the long succession of rainy days though. Your snapping turtles are very impressive! We don’t have land ones like that here. The sunrises are very beautiful, Jerry, and I loved the series of sandpiper adults and adorable chicks. They remind me of the activities of our masked lapwings here, the way they pretend they have a broken wing. I understand what you mean about noticing more birds and other creatures now. I see much more wildlife these days. In my case it is because I have slowed down a lot and I am looking for something to photograph to share on my blog. I can also appreciate why you are working long hours to afford more camera equipment. I don’t think you’re greedy. It will be lovely though when you have more time in the future to relax. Thanks for another special collection from beautiful Michigan. 🙂

    June 22, 2015 at 5:49 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! Our snapping turtles can grow to very large size, and they are mean, the meanest critter that there is as far as I know. Once they bite down on something, they won’t let go, even if you kill it.

      My sunrise photos continue to improve, wait till you see the next batch.

      I’ve slowed down a lot the past few years, old age setting in I suppose, but I do notice more of everything while going slower, so it’s not that bad.

      I only have a few years left to work before I can retire, so I’d like to have all my major purchases completed by then, and thoroughly enjoy sitting outside shooting photos.

      June 22, 2015 at 1:27 pm

  3. The chick photos are amazing – love the huge feet on the little spotted sandpiper. And your final portrait of the upland sandpiper is a keeper.

    Your support rise photos remind me that I gotta get my butt moving earlier in the morning and see some of this with my own two eyes. When were not camping, its easy to fall into bad ways. :-). But can an angry sunrise be a bad thing??

    Nice post, Jerry.

    June 22, 2015 at 8:14 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I felt a little bad about bothering the parents while I was shooting the chicks, but on the other hand, while I was there, no eagle, hawk, or other predator would be there to snatch one of the chicks. The spotted sandpiper chicks must have just hatched, for they could barely walk, it must take a while to learn how to control those big feet.

      I’ve always been an early riser, given the chance, I love sunrise, it’s when the entire world seems to be alive.

      June 22, 2015 at 11:23 am

  4. You just carry on posting as many of these amazing shots as you can! Looking at your comparison photo of the Mallard and the Ruddy Duck there is another difference I’ve just noticed. I know that Mallards take flight straight up from the water but the ruddy duck takes a run first. I wouldn’t have learnt that without your shot!

    June 22, 2015 at 8:56 am

  5. It is no wonder you cannot decide what to leave out, everyone is a winner. My top favourites were the sandpiper, the sunrise and the whitetail deer.

    June 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I wish that there had been better light for some of the photos, but I seldom see as much on nice days.

      June 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

  6. You’re getting some fine photos in spite of the dreary weather. The sunrises are excellent, especially that first one. Talk about color saturation!
    I like the shots of the killdeer and sandpipers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sandpiper but they’re pretty birds. Funny how they pretend to be injured like a killdeer does.
    Nice shots of the deer too. I haven’t seen any of them yet this spring either.
    That snapper looks like it was a good sized one!

    June 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! The good thing about dreary weather is that I see more wildlife, the downside is that my photos aren’t as good as they would be in good light.

      Killdeer and sandpipers are in the same family of birds, so their behaviors are much the same. And, they are pretty birds, even though they’re not brightly colored.

      I can tell that the number of deer is down this year, due to two hard winters in a row, but down south, it’s not as bad as farther north, or the upper peninsula.

      That snapper was huge, I had to switch to a shorter lens to get it all in the frame.

      June 23, 2015 at 12:28 am

  7. Put in what you like. We’ll look at them, I can assure you.

    June 22, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! Of course you’d say that, being as polite as you are.

      June 23, 2015 at 12:22 am

      • And anxious to see what you will photograph next…and what with.

        June 23, 2015 at 6:54 pm

  8. TPJ

    Great Sandpiper shots.

    June 22, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      June 23, 2015 at 12:21 am

  9. Awwwwww, baby sandpiper!!! Cute pic of the day!!!

    June 24, 2015 at 9:03 am

    • Thank you very much Lori!

      June 24, 2015 at 3:47 pm

  10. This post is a veritable photographic feast! So many wonderful shots but the baby upland sandpiper totally made my day. SOOOOOOO adorable!! Oh, and I loved that sunrise shot, that is great. Maybe because purple is my favorite color and the sky is very purple in that shot. The angry sun was pretty cool, too.

    June 27, 2015 at 9:31 am

    • Thanks again Amy! Since I have no life other than work and photography, I get to spend far more time outside than most people do, which makes it easy for me to get the photos that I do.

      June 27, 2015 at 10:33 am