Muskegon June 26th, My favorite marsh
Doing this second post about my trip to Muskegon on the 26th, which actually covers the first half of my day, seems weird to me. I should do them in order from now on. Anyway, after reading reports that an American avocet and American wigeon had both been seen at the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility over the past week, caused me to break my vow not to return there until fall. I have photos of an American wigeon, but they’re not great, and I’d never seen an avocet before, so I needed photos of that species for the My Photo Life List project I’m working on.
With my new work schedule, it’s easy to get to Muskegon well before sunrise, so that’s what I did. There weren’t many clouds in the sky to add color to the sunrise, but I still set-up one of my 60D bodies with the EF-S 15-85 mm lens attached, mounted on my tripod, to see what would develop. It was still dark as I was setting up, but I could hear sandhill cranes nearby, so I was hoping for photos of them once the sun rose high enough for wildlife photography.
I began shooting series of photos to turn into HDR images as the sun began to rise, but it did look as if the sunrise was going to be rather boring, as you can see.
But, I hung around with the camera still set-up just in case, besides, it was still far too dark for a photo of the cranes. That didn’t stop me from trying though.
I even removed the landscape set-up from the tripod, and attached the 7D Mk II with the 300 mm lens on it to the tripod, and tried my very first wildlife HDR image, although the results were not as good as I hoped that they would be.
Then, things got really interesting! As the first rays of the sun hit the dew covered grasses, a mist began to form to create a thin layer of fog near the ground, which the sun’s early rays turned to a bright orange color!
This was enough to keep me hanging around to see what developed next, the sunrise got better.
Then, a whitetail deer came wandering along.
This is when I got so lucky I couldn’t believe it, I only wish that my skills as a photographer would have been up for this shot. The deer decided to look down into the marsh, right behind the flock of cranes, with the orange-pink glow of the sunrise as a background.
Not good, I kept trying though, and finally got this one, the best of the lot.
I didn’t stop shooting with the landscape set-up though, here’s what I think is my best shot of just the sunrise.
I paused from time to time to shoot more photos of the cranes.
A short break from the sunrise photos for a second or two. Sandhill cranes and herons are relatives, but their behaviors are very different. Herons will perch somewhere in an elevated place, such as a tree, stump…
(Taken on an earlier trip to Muskegon)
…or man-made object…
…to stay safe from predators.
The sandhill cranes on the other hand, look for marshes or other bodies of water of the right depth so that they can stand in the water away from shore to stay safe from predators, as they are doing in the previous photos.
At sunrise, the herons fly to the water to hunt for fish, frogs, or other things.
Whereas at sunrise, the sandhill cranes fly to dry ground where they forage for insects and the other things that they eat.
As you can see, I blew a great opportunity there when the flock of cranes that I had been watching decided that it was breakfast time. I didn’t do any better when the next crane flew off either.
The cranes didn’t have to go far for food, so they never got very high above the ground, all they had to do was fly above the dike that had created the marsh, so I had to shoot fast.
So, if you see sandhill cranes in the water, they are there primarily to rest, although they may eat a snack or two while they stand in the water. They spend most of the daylight hours in open fields looking for food.
Now then, back to the sunrise. I tried a few more HDR images, but for some reason, the later ones look as if I faked them. I don’t know why the dark halo around the sun showed up, it must have something to do with how the camera sensor reacts to very bright sunlight.
So, instead of using the wide set-up, I used the 300 mm lens for these.
I probably should have experimented more with other lenses and set-ups, but I was shooting other things with that set-up in between the sunrise photos, and was too busy to play. The 300 mm lens let me keep just the parts of the horizon that were turned the brilliant orange color in the frame for those photos. I didn’t do that in Lightroom. In fact, I played with the color balance in an attempt to tone down the orange a little, but switching to the cloudy or shady setting only made the orange even more pronounced. That’s about what I saw, and it is what the camera saw.
That’s it for the sunrise.
The Muskegon County wastewater facility has been recognized for the efforts that management puts into making the facility a wildlife friendly place.
Which is the reason that I’m able to get the photos there that I do, like the American avocet, seen here with a lesser yellowlegs for size comparison.
And here’s the avocet by itself.
I also tracked down the American Wigeon, but it absolutely refused to turn to face me so that I could get a photo that showed its light stripe on its forehead.
Here’s a few of the other ducks that are still around.
And, if you didn’t get enough of the upland sandpipers in the earlier post from a few weeks before, here’s two more.
I could have spent yet another entire day there, but I had orchids to photograph that day at Lost Lake.
I’m sorry for the rather disjointed writing of this post, but I’m getting ready to leave on a trip north to the only national wildflower sanctuary in the United States, Loda Lake to see what I can find there.
That this is it for this one, thanks for stopping by!