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

Muskegon July 5th, 2015

On the second day of my three days off from work for the 4th of July, I went to the Muskegon area once again. I set-up to shoot photos of the sunrise over my favorite marsh in the Muskegon County wastewater facility. But, it turned out to be a rather boring one for wider shots, so I was limited to a few tighter shots of various subjects. If only the water didn’t have the sickly color that it does in these photos, it would be great!

Glittery sunrise

Glittery sunrise

Glittery sunrise

Glittery sunrise

I was playing around, waiting for it to become light enough to shoot other types of photos, when the thought occurred to me to try this one.

Grass and sunrise

Grass and sunrise

I couldn’t resist trying to make a HDR image of the same thing.

Grass and sunrise

Grass and sunrise

The sandhill cranes were there after having spent the night in the marsh.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

And this time, two deer came along to look the scene over. I was not able to get both the cranes and the deer in the same photo, not like the last time I was there.

Deer at sunrise

Deer at sunrise

I’m probably a bit off my rocker, trying to shoot wildlife photos before the sun has even risen above the horizon, but pushing the limits of my camera and my own skills may pay off one of these days. Besides, it gives me something to do while I’m waiting for better light.

Sandhill crane flying into the sunrise

Sandhill crane flying into the sunrise

Sandhill cranes flying into the sunrise

Sandhill cranes flying into the sunrise

A short sidebar here, the Canon 7D Mk II may not be the low light camera that some people claimed that it was when it was first introduced, but I’m learning that it is better than I gave it credit for. Yes, there’s still a lot of noise in my photos shot at high ISO settings, almost as much as in photos shot with the 60D. However, I’m finding that after cleaning up the photos in Lightroom, those shot with the 7D are much better than what I could ever hope to get with the 60D.

Pre-dawn eastern kingbird

Pre-dawn eastern kingbird

So, I keep working at getting better images all the time, and here’s a couple of examples of what the 7D can do even at ISO 6400.

Grey catbird at dawn

Grey catbird at dawn

It helps when the birds let me get as close as this to them.

Grey catbird at dawn

Grey catbird at dawn

That wasn’t cropped at all, which helps a great deal to produce a good image, that and having used the 300 mm L series lens on the 7D. Those aren’t my best photos of a catbird, but they’re pretty darned good for having been shot when there was just enough light to see well.

Anyway, it turned out to be a good thing that I had made a stop at the wastewater facility, I was able to get better photos of a short billed dowitcher than what I’ve gotten in the past.

Short billed dowitcher

Short billed dowitcher

I even found one of the dowitchers posing with the American Avocet to show you size comparison.

Short billed dowitcher and American avocet

Short billed dowitcher and American avocet

And, I got my best photos of the avocet to date.

American avocet

American avocet

I found a few other things to shoot while at the wastewater facility, like a great blue heron and its reflection.

Great blue heron and its reflection

Great blue heron and its reflection

I caught a deer looking over one of the man-made dykes to see if I was on the other side, but I had fooled the deer, and was behind her instead.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

I also found a patch of rabbit’s foot clover…

Rabbit's foot clover

Rabbit’s foot clover

…and tried a macro shot of one of the flower heads, but there wasn’t enough light yet for this to be good.

Rabbit's foot clover

Rabbit’s foot clover

Then, it was on to my main destination for the day, Lost Lake in the Muskegon State Park.

It was a warm weekend, not hot, but I’m one of those who prefers cool weather to hot weather. Lost Lake is about the perfect place to beat the heat on a summer day. The wind coming over the waters of Lake Michigan, which is still only around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), and the shade from the forest provide natural air conditioning on a hot day.

That reminds me, another benefit of getting out at dawn is that it’s cooler in the summer, along with less wind, and more critters.

Anyway, on my way back to Lost lake, I stopped to shoot this scene.

Hemlock and cedar swamp

That’s a HDR image, here’s the best my camera could do in one image.

Hemlock and cedar swamp

Hemlock and cedar swamp

It’s really nothing special, just a small clearing in the forest, but I just love those places where the light makes it all the way to the ground, and new growth is occurring. It can be nearly as dark as night in the thickest parts of a swamp forest like that. It will be there in just a few short years as the new growth eventually blocks out the sun in this spot also. But, other clearings will open up as trees are blown over by the wind, as their roots don’t go very deep in the wet soil of a swamp like this.

That’s one thing about nature that many people forget, nothing is permanent, nothing is forever. It was over 100 years ago that the fires in northern Michigan left the area a virtual wasteland, but nature can heal itself if given the chance. The places that I remember as a kid, which was 50 years ago, have changed a great deal over time, they no longer look the way that I remember that they looked back then. Even the worst of areas that were burned have some new growth now, and will eventually become forests again if allowed to. But, I should have a few photos to illustrate what I’m talking about before I go too far down that trail, so instead, I’ll return to the things that I saw along the trail to Lost Lake.

Eastern kingbird chasing a crow

Eastern kingbird chasing a crow

The hummingbirds were enjoying the early morning sun as they warmed themselves and looked for insects at the same time.

Ruby-throated hummingbird sunning itself

Ruby-throated hummingbird sunning itself

Meanwhile, I found these growing on the first floor.

Partridge berry flowers

Partridge berry flowers

And, there were squirrels everywhere, here’s just one that there was enough light to photograph.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

I caught this chipmunk as it was gathering food.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

And it decided that if it had to sit still and pose for a few photos that it may as well enjoy a little snack while doing so.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

This raccoon was on its way up a tree to spend the day sleeping in the shade.

Raccoon

Raccoon

Arriving at Lost Lake, I was greeted by this scene.

Water lily

Water lily

I made my way around the lake to the observation platform, and spent the rest of my time there photographing the flowers…

Water lily

Water lily

…birds…

Male American redstart

Male American redstart

…other wildlife…

Green frog

Green frog

…and fungi that I found.

Unidentified fungal object

Unidentified fungal object

One of the many reasons that I had to gone to Lost Lake was to try out the new Canon 100 mm macro lens, which I used to shoot the rest of these.

The pink Pogonia orchids were past their prime, but I shot this one to try out the new lens.

Pink oogonia orchid

Pink Pogonia orchid

I found this little yellow flower, but I have no idea what it is.

Unidentified flowering object

Unidentified flowering object

I know that these are Atlantic blue-eyed grass flowers.

Atlantic blue-eyed grass

Atlantic blue-eyed grass

And, I also know that these are bladderworts.

Bladderwort

Bladderwort

Bladderwort

Bladderwort

I believe that the is a cranberry flower, but I could be wrong.

Cranberry flower?

Cranberry flower?

I found this plant or moss growing in the very shallow water along the lake.

Plant or moss?

Plant or moss?

The sundew  photos came out well!

Sundew

Sundew

Sundew

Sundew

I found this grass or sedge also growing in the shallow water of the lake.

Grass or sedge?

Grass or sedge?

It had an odd growth pattern down lower on the stem, which I found interesting.

Grass or sedge?

Grass or sedge?

While I was shooting those photos, this came flying past me, but all I had with me at the time was the 100 mm lens, so this is cropped severely.

B-17 Flying Fortress, possibly the "Aluminum Overcast"

B-17 Flying Fortress, possibly the “Aluminum Overcast”

Finally, to end this one, a dragonfly…

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

…and a damselfly.

Damselfly

Damselfly

I’ll be returning to the shores of Lake Michigan this weekend, since the weather forecast is calling for the warmest temperatures we’ve had in nearly two years. Since we had such a cold winter, and cool spring and early summer, the waters of the Great Lakes are still quite cool. I’ll use nature’s air conditioning, rather than running the AC at my apartment. If I didn’t have an appointment early Monday morning, I would have gone camping somewhere this weekend, but that’s the way that it goes sometimes.

This time when I go to the lake, I hope to shoot a few photos along the beach, where ever I decide to go, for the newer readers of my blog who may not have seen my earlier photos of the beaches. We do have some great sandy beaches here in Michigan, but I find that they become a bit boring after a while, they are miles and miles of water, sand, and sand dunes. To some one who hasn’t seen them, they look spectacular at first, but I suppose that I take them for granted, having grown up here.

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

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24 responses

  1. I loved the deer at dawn,a most artistic photograph and, of course, I loved the chipmunks. The sundew pictures were a delight as well.

    July 18, 2015 at 4:32 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! As always, you’re too kind.

      July 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm

  2. Great post lots of wonderful shots!

    July 18, 2015 at 6:27 am

    • Thank you very much Victor!

      July 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm

  3. Wow – love those sundew shots. What a blast of color. I also really liked the moody lighting + the reflection of the American avocet.

    I really couldn’t quite believe the color of hour first few photos…..that shimmering, coppery colored water makes a spectacular background.

    July 18, 2015 at 8:52 am

  4. These are all excellent Jerry! I like the chipmunk shots. You don’t see them holding still like that very often.
    The water lily shots are also nice. Sometimes there are so many of them that it’s hard to isolate a single bloom.
    The yellow flower looks like a dwarf St. Johnswort, and that does look like a cranberry blossom.
    I can’t really tell if that’s a grass or sedge but it looks like the stems are round, and that would make it a rush, I think. They’re all pretty confusing.
    Nice sunrise!

    July 18, 2015 at 9:43 am

    • Thank you Allen! I thought it strange that the chipmunk stopped, and took the nut out of its cheek to eat as I shot away. But, I will shoot away if another one does the same thing. 😉

      I remembered you telling me that grasses have round stems, sedges have square ones, so I did feel the stem of the plant in question. The problem is, I had spent the day before doing the same thing to many other grasses and sedges at Loda lake that I don’t remember the shape of this plant’s stem. Now you throw in rushes, just too much for my feeble brain to remember. 😉 That could mean that some of the plants that I thought were grasses or sedges at Loda Lake could be rushes as well. I’ll just have to go back to both places I suppose, maybe with a notepad the next time.

      July 18, 2015 at 3:01 pm

  5. A fabulous collection of shots – a really good day’s work! The first waterlily shot is beautiful with its clear reflection in the water. I loved the sundew shot and all the animal ones too. The green background to the dragonfly photo is just perfect.

    July 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare!I only wish that photography was my line of work! The “office”is so much better than any other I’ve ever had, and it’s something that I truly love doing.

      July 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      • It’s unfortunate that most of us only find out what we’re good at and enjoy too late to make anything of it!

        July 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      • That’s so true, sad, but true.

        July 19, 2015 at 1:15 am

      • ;(

        July 19, 2015 at 10:53 am

  6. Lovely shots Jerry. Particularly like the Sundew close-ups. If you glance at one of our recent posts you’ll know why. In my humble opinion your first “Grass and sunrise” composition is excellent!

    July 18, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    • Thank you very much Bob! I wanted to use a milkweed flower rather than grass in the foreground, but I couldn’t get low enough to do so.

      July 19, 2015 at 1:29 am

  7. Some great shots. Love to see you branching out.

    July 18, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    • Thank you very much Gunta! If I branch out much more, I’ll need even more equipment.

      July 19, 2015 at 1:16 am

      • Perhaps a kayak? 😉

        July 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

  8. The sundew photos did come out well. I liked your early morning shots too.

    July 18, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom!

      July 19, 2015 at 1:16 am

  9. I love your dedication to improving your shots and your willingness to try new things, Jerry. I thought your shots were excellent when I first started reading your blog but I can see them getting better and better as time goes on. These are all great shots. I started a list in my head of my favourites but there were too many. The sundews were extra special though and I liked the way the light filters through the forest. I enjoyed your experimentation with the early morning sun and the seeds/grasses. The macro shots are superb of course. A great post, Jerry. I agree about the natural world always changing. Nothing stays the same. Natural and human-made disasters occur and over time, the land heals. It may not look the same as it once was, but it recovers in some way.

    July 19, 2015 at 10:01 am

  10. Andy Hazel

    I simply wanted to say thank you for your beautiful photography and journaling. I subscribed to your page quite some time ago and then set up my mother to also receive your emails. Well into her seventies she is a relatively recent adopter of the ‘iPad’ technology and has enjoyed the beautiful pictures, information, and stories you share for I think a couple years now. She would often ask me if I’d seeN your latest posts. I found many of your pictures saved in her camera roll on her iPad. She passed away this past week. I wanted to say a special thanks to you for sharing the incredible images of birds and nature that my mother enjoyed so much.

    Andy Hazel

    July 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    • I’m sorry to hear that your mother passed away, I lost my mom a year ago, and know how tough it can be. Thank you very much for sending the kind words along at this time.

      July 20, 2015 at 3:58 am

  11. I wonder if the B-17 was coming to or from the air show in Gaylord. There was a big air show there the weekend of the 4th that we had hoped to go to, but ended up waiting around for our contractor all that day.

    Those shots of the sundew are amazing! Loved them, and also I really liked the macro of the rabbit foot clover. I liked the soft bokeh. 🙂 The water lilies are great, too, and I really enjoyed the shots of the chipmunk. They always make me laugh, even when they are stealing my bird food! I have one here that is driving me nuts, and when I go chase him off the bird food, he runs into the gutter. Well, the one day I pulled the end part of the gutter off and there was his little butt sticking out at the elbow and he had dropped his peanut. 🙂 LOL. I couldn’t hurt him, so put the gutter back on and of course within moments he was back out eating/stealing more bird food. 😀

    July 20, 2015 at 9:00 am

    • Thank you very much Amy! The B-17 may have come from Gaylord, it made a semi-circle around Muskegon, then landed there.

      Chipmunks are too cute, not only the animated ones, but even the real ones also. They are also responsible for spreading seeds to help plants grow in other areas, as they hide more seeds than they can eat, and a few of those seeds germinate.

      July 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm