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

I’m loving it!

It was a pretty good weekend, all things considered. We didn’t get the storms on Sunday morning, they fell apart out over Lake Michigan. Instead, we had a very hot, humid, and hazy day, so I packed it in early to enjoy the air conditioning for once. There was a very stiff wind blowing as well, which made photography difficult particularly the few times that I tried to shoot flowers.

The storms arrived in the evening, and I managed to sleep through them, despite the fact that they did some damage around here, and a lot of damage to the north and east of here. About the time that I got home from the grocery store, and was getting ready for my walk, the clouds left this morning from the storms last night began to clear out.

So, even though I still have many photos from earlier this summer still saved, I’m going to post daily photos from yesterday and today, with a few older ones thrown in. I should start with the sunrise from yesterday, because it was quite good, but instead, I’m going to begin with a series of photos from towards the end of my day yesterday. I was at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, the observation deck along the Muskegon River to be precise, when I saw a family of barn swallows. The juveniles would line up on the railing of the deck…

Juvenile barn swallows

Juvenile barn swallows

…and when one of the parents would head their way, the young swallows would let the parents know which one of them was most deserving of the food.

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

As strong as the wind was, this one was nearly blown away by a wind gust, but managed to hold on after it being touch and go for a few seconds.

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

The juveniles could fly, but I think because of the high winds, they preferred not to fly unless they had to. I was shooting from one level down on the deck, there was just enough room for me to stick the 300 mm lens under the deck railing and shoot up at the swallows on the other side of the upper level. I started out using the 300 mm lens with the 1.4 X extender, then it hit me, this is the perfect place to do some more testing with the new Canon 2X tele-converter, so I made the switch. All the photos so far were cropped quite a bit, the next one wasn’t cropped at all.

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

Juvenile barn swallow

I’m happy with those, but I just had to crop one to see just how sharp the image was.

Juvenile barn swallow, slight crop

Juvenile barn swallow, slight crop

Who says the 2X extender isn’t sharp? It was the perfect situation to put it to use in the way that it is best used, getting that little bit closer to stationary birds when I have plenty of time to get it on the camera, and to get focused on the subject.

I did attempt to get photos of the adults feeding their young, but missed every time. It happens quickly, and I had to stretch and stand on my tip toes to get high enough to stick the lens under the railing of the next level of the deck.

Anyway, going back to the beginning of the day, here’s three of the series of photos that I shot of the sunrise.

Sunrise over Muskegon

Sunrise over Muskegon

Sunrise over Muskegon

Sunrise over Muskegon

Sunrise over Muskegon

Sunrise over Muskegon

After having climbed one of the dunes for those photos, I decided to wait a few minutes and shoot this one looking across the dunes when there was enough light to see.

The sand dunes of Muskegon State Park

The sand dunes of Muskegon State Park

The clouds were moving at a high rate of speed, driven by the winds, so after climbing down off the dune, I stopped to shoot this one, looking down the channel towards Lake Michigan.

The Muskegon Lake channel to Lake Michigan

The Muskegon Lake channel to Lake Michigan

 

Then I stopped at the beach to get this shot before the thousands of people showed for the day, since the park was still officially closed.

The beach at Muskegon State Park

The beach at Muskegon State Park

That’s where I learned to swim as a kid, and you may find it hard to believe, but that beach is considered to be second-rate here In Michigan. While it isn’t as popular as Holland or Grand Haven, it’s still elbow to elbow on a warm day.

Here are the photos that I shot with the second camera as I played around between sunrise photos.

Sunrise over Muskegon Lake

Sunrise over Muskegon Lake

Sunrise over Muskegon Lake

Sunrise over Muskegon Lake

Hardly a trophy

Hardly a trophy

Coast Guard ship at dock

Coast Guard ship at dock

Double-crested cormorant in flight

Double-crested cormorant in flight

On a lark, I drove up to the “blockhouse”, which is a little over a mile north of where the beach photo was shot. The blockhouse was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp back in the 1930’s, as a scenic look-out over Lake Michigan. Since the park was still officially closed, the blockhouse wasn’t open, not that it mattered. The trees between there and the big lake have grown so much over the decades, there’s not much of a view of the lake any more. But, I did find birds to shoot.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

I looked over my shoulder to see this monarch resting.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Then, I shot this series of a juvenile tufted titmouse checking out a walking stick.

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse and walking stick

I never saw the walking stick under the titmouse until I blew those images up on my computer, but I did see something fall, which turned out to be the walking stick. The titmouse seemed very interested in where it had gone, I thought that it had been just a piece of bark that the bird had knocked loose.

Juvenile tufted titmouse looking for the walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse looking for the walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse looking for the walking stick

Juvenile tufted titmouse looking for the walking stick

I looked to my left to see three monarchs resting.

Three monarch butterflies resting

Three monarch butterflies resting

Then, I got a better shot of a chickadee…

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

…and a chipmunk.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

There were other birds around, but I missed them all, other than this bad photo of a downy woodpecker.

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

From there, I returned to the Snug Harbor area in Muskegon State Park, to see what I could find there, and because I had planned on hiking back to Lost Lake. All I found were grey squirrels.

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

I was all set to shoot one of the black morph grey squirrels, when another one chased the one I was going to photograph up a tree.

Grey morph grey squirrel chasing a black morph grey squirrel

Grey morph grey squirrel chasing a black morph grey squirrel

Grey morph grey squirrel chasing a black morph grey squirrel

Grey morph grey squirrel chasing a black morph grey squirrel

They’re both the same species, just different color variations. Later, I caught two of the grey ones feeding together.

Grey morph grey squirrel

Grey morph grey squirrel

Instead of hiking back to Lost Lake for the fourth week in a row, I decided to go to the Muskegon Lake Nature preserve instead, since I haven’t been there since spring.

I learned a new trick, if the sky isn’t what you’d like it to be when shooting birds that are above you, try a polarizing filer.

Northern flicker, no filter

Northern flicker, no filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Northern flicker using polarizing filter

Of course the bird has to be at the correct angle to the sun for the polarizing filter to work, but I can see that it’s another tick to add to my bag.

I shot a few macros there also.

Buttonbush flower opening

Buttonbush flower opening

Buttonbush flower open

Buttonbush flower open

Buttonbush flower after the individual small flowers die

Buttonbush flower after the individual small flowers die

I think that I’ll save the rest for later. In the meantime, two more birds from the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Grey Catbird

Grey Catbird

I see that I’m already over my self-imposed limits for photos, but to finish this post, here’s a photo from this morning.

Day lily

Day lily

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

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33 responses

  1. Love your Barn Swallow pics!

    August 3, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    • Thank you Bob!

      August 3, 2015 at 4:39 pm

  2. Beautiful pics, my favorite would be of Sunrise over Muskegon 🙂

    August 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      August 4, 2015 at 12:20 am

  3. I enjoyed very much the portraits of barn swallows. It seems we have different species: we have here Hirundo rustica rustica and you have there Hirundo rustica erythrogaster. Yours have redder underparts and a narrower blue breast band. Very interesting. I didn’t know this but I searched on Internet for ‘barn swallows North America’ and discovered there are about six subspecies.

    I also like the beach at Muskegon State Park, it’s not crowded; Coast Guard ship at dock and it’s nice colours; and squirrels and all birds.

    August 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Cornel! There may be differences in their colors but I’m sure that your swallows are as much fun to watch as our’s are.

      The beach wasn’t crowded because it was just after sunrise, by noon, the place would have had people packed like sardines there.

      August 4, 2015 at 12:29 am

  4. Another great selection. Keep on being a Jack of All Trades please, I love the variety. The swallow shots certainly showed off the tele-converter. It looks like a good buy.

    August 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you Tom! The tele-converter will be reserved for bird portraits in good light, the loss of light from it is too much to make it effective for much of anything else.

      August 4, 2015 at 12:21 am

      • I am hoping to get mine out tomorrow but that will be light dependant.

        August 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      • I hope that you do get the sunshine.

        August 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

  5. beauteous~

    August 3, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    • Thank you Cindy!

      August 4, 2015 at 12:21 am

  6. Splendid selection of excellent photographs. I particularly enjoyed the bardn swallows, the sunrise shots and the squirrels.

    August 4, 2015 at 3:14 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! It was my pleasure, believe me.

      August 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

  7. I do like those sunrise shots. The colors are great and the clouds dramatic.
    The guy with the fish looks like he was doing a happy dance! He must not fish that often.
    I’m glad you’re seeing monarchs. I still haven’t seen a single one yet this year.
    I still haven’t ever seen a black squirrel either. I wonder if the gray colored ones beat up on the black one. I hope not.
    Nice shots of the sparrows and the chipmunk!

    August 4, 2015 at 8:34 am

    • Thank you Allen! I’ve been getting lucky with the sunrises, but I’m still searching for a better place to view and photograph them from.

      If you had seen that guy’s boat, you’d know that he fished a lot, I think that they were in a tournament. His buddy had just boated a fish over twice as large, but I missed that one. I think that another boat’s wake caught the guy in the photo as he was walking back to the livable, which is why he’s in an odd position.

      Almost all the monarchs are around Muskegon, there’s a steady stream of them as you’ll see in other posts. There’s a few around home here also.

      Color of the squirrels doesn’t matter, the older adult males beat up on the young and females no matter what color they are. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of both whenever I get just a few miles north of home.

      August 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm

  8. Let me join the Barnswallow Bandwagon! What a beautiful series.

    So odd to see three Monarchs together. I see an occasional Monarch flying solo, but never more than the odd one at a time. Wouldn’t it be something special to see the spot in Mexico where they winter? Hard to imagine what a visual treat that would be.

    You’ve inspired me to get up and out earlier when we head out camping next week. I’m usually up early, but can’t tear myself away from the coffee pot until the day is well in hand. Going to try to see what it’s like outside in the early hours.

    Love the variety of things you shoot. What seems quite ordinary becomes dramatic through your lens.

    August 4, 2015 at 9:39 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I especially liked your last line, it sums up what I’ve been trying to do but haven’t put into words that well.

      You may not believe this, but I have another shot of three monarchs, but they were spread out more, and don’t show up as well. Muskegon is full of them right now, a steady stream of them moving to the southwest, I suppose on their migration.

      It’s easy for me to be out at daybreak when camping, I sleep in a tent and make coffee on a Coleman stove on the picnic table. When the first birds begin singing, I roll out of the tent, fire up the stove to make coffee, and get my camera gear out for the day. I remain outside as the coffee is brewing, and as I’m drinking it. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

      August 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm

  9. I’m definitely loving it too… I wish I was that talented photographer, though! 😉

    August 4, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    • Thank you very much Lily! All it takes is practice to become a better photographer.

      August 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

  10. Awesome sunrise photos and I really like the one of the channel going to the lake. The lines in that are very pleasing to the eye. Great monarch photos, too, and the series of the titmouse looking for the walking stick was funny! It looked like the chickadee was considering eating one of those acorns!

    August 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    • Thank you again Amy! The chickadee did find something to eat between the acorns, but I missed that shot. I wanted the full moon to stand out more in the shot of the channel, but it was too high in the sky yet, and it was getting too light by then. I’m planning on being back there the end of August, when the full moon should be just above the horizon there at daybreak.

      August 5, 2015 at 12:40 am

  11. Lovely! My favourites are the gorgeous back-lit daylily, the chipmunk, the colours in the shot of the coastguard ship, the three monachs and of course, the barn swallows. The rest of the photos were really good too.

    August 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! There will be better photos of the lily coming soon, it was one time when waiting for good light paid off for me.

      August 5, 2015 at 12:41 am

      • 🙂

        August 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm

  12. I think Judy is quite right, your photos and links turn everyday sights into captivating reading. The swallow shots are delightful and the sunsets very dramatic. The deserted beach is a wonderful photo inviting you in to walk right down that shoreline.

    August 4, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    • Thank you very much Brandy! I’m glad that you liked the deserted beach photo enough to mention it, it turned out to be one of my favorites from the day.

      August 5, 2015 at 12:43 am

  13. Another beautiful diverse selection of shots, Jerry. Thanks for the before and after polariser shot of the bird with sky background. That’s something that is a problem for me here as many of the birds are high above me. I will have to try that when I change to a different camera. Even though swallows are common here, I love watching them when they have nests under eaves. They really are a beautiful bird, but often unappreciated because we see them a lot. The photos of them are wonderful. Beautiful sunrises and the light in the day lily shot is gorgeous.

    August 4, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! I have since learned not to use the polarizing filter on black birds, it makes them so black that I can’t save them using Lightroom. But, for lighter birds, it does work well to tone down the sky and highlight the bird. Too often we overlook the beauty of common things, nearly because they are common.

      August 5, 2015 at 12:45 am

  14. I’ll chime in with the crowd and say good job on the sunrise pictures!

    August 5, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’ll have to work to top these.

      August 5, 2015 at 4:49 pm

  15. Adorable swallows! Love those birds (don’t they eat mosquitoes, too?)

    August 9, 2015 at 9:59 am

    • Thank you Lori! Yes, swallows will eat mosquitos, they’re pretty, and fun to watch also.

      August 9, 2015 at 3:59 pm