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

Serving up still more leftovers

According to the widget that I installed on my blog, it’s only three months until spring arrives. These may be the longest three months of my life, I’m getting to the point where I hate winters. I think that I have photography to blame for that, as I didn’t used to mind winter as much.

Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t mind bundling up and trudging several miles through the snow during the period of endlessly cloudy days as lake effect snow continued to fall. But then, I was carrying just a small point and shoot camera which fit very nicely in a coat pocket, I wasn’t trying to lug 20 pounds of photo gear with me. I’d also settle for so-so photos of the few species of birds that don’t migrate south, along with the few other subjects that I may have found.

It isn’t that there aren’t times in Michigan when winter creates beautiful scenes to photograph, not that this is one of them…

A rare sunny day in winter

A rare sunny day in winter in Michigan

…but, it was the best that I could find yesterday, and there are far fewer subjects to photograph, such as these…

Dragonfly on flower buds

Dragonfly on flower buds

…which won’t be seen around here until next April.

I really shouldn’t be complaining, as this fall has been one of the best on record, and has been a huge improvement over last fall. I stole this graphic from a local TV station to remind myself how good we’ve had it so far this November.

A tale of two Novembers

A tale of two November’s weather

It doesn’t help matters any that I’m becoming spoiled, and maybe just a little bit bored by shooting the same species of birds so often, when so many of the photos look exactly the same as earlier ones that I’ve shot.

Male bufflehead duck

Male bufflehead duck

Okay, so I caught the colors of the bufflehead’s head a little better in this photo than I have in the past, I was still too far away for a really good photo. It’s the same with this rough-legged hawk in flight…

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

 

Rough-legged hawk in flight

Rough-legged hawk in flight

…and this northern shoveler.

Male northern shoveler

Male northern shoveler

It looks as though I have some decisions to make about where I go, what I photograph, and how I approach both my blog and my manner of shooting photos in the future.

Actually, I’ve been giving these subjects some thought for the past few months. If I really want to improve the quality of the images that I shoot, I’ll have to get closer to my subjects. That means that I’ll have to give up my “run and gun” approach to shooting photos of birds, and find good spot to sit and wait for them to come to me. Doing that will also mean that I’ll have to find places to go where there are fewer humans around to scare away the birds.

There’s more to all of this than photography or my blog as well, do I really need to add the wear and tear to my vehicle driving to Muskegon every weekend just to shoot photos of birds…

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

…that I could photograph around home, even if one of the American tree sparrows begins to sing softly?

American tree sparrow singing in November

American tree sparrow singing in November

By the way, the tree sparrows have pretty little songs, and I feel lucky for having heard it in person, as this species nests much farther to the north and it’s rare for them to sing around here especially at this time of the year.

Maybe I’m a bit bummed out because I went to Muskegon yesterday and found very few birds or other subjects that I haven’t already posted dozens of photos of already, like this American pipit.

American pipit

American pipit

I’ve posted a few images of them lately, but that one reminded me of spring, with just a bit of snow on the ground, with what could be mistaken for the first signs of plants emerging from the snow. Unfortunately, the greenery is some of the last that will be seen around here for several months and not the signs of spring arriving here.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I want to shoot photos of only species of birds that I’ve never seen before, but I would prefer that my posts over the winter months not be of just the same few species of birds over and over again, unless the photos that I shoot are special in one way or another. None of the photos that I’ve posted so far fit that criteria, they look the same as many others that I’ve recently posted. The truth is, I really don’t mind shooting what appears to be the exact same photo as what I shot the day before as I learn something from each and every photo that I shoot. Not only do I learn more about photography, but I also learn more about the birds and the way that they behave, and how best to get closer to them. However, there’s no reason to bore every one with the same old same old posted here all the time.

Luckily for now, I have plenty of photos of subjects that I won’t be seeing for a few months saved on my computer to be posted.

Bladder campion

Bladder campion

 

Slime mold?

Slime mold?

 

Unidentified spider

Unidentified spider

So, by using them up over the winter, my posts won’t be quite as boring as they would otherwise be. I’ll also be able to get back to posting to the My Photo Life List project that I’ve put on hold over the past few months.

In a way, that has worked out well, for I’ve been able to shoot better images of many of the species of birds than I was able to the first time that I saw them. And, with winter here again, I hope to shoot better photos of some of our winter resident birds than I have gotten in the past, at least a little better than the ones that I have now.

I also have to take into consideration the fact that most of the people who comment on my blog tell me not to change the way that I blog, since I do post a wide variety, not only of species of birds, but other subjects as well.

1956 Chevy street rod

1956 Chevy street rod

That was shot early this spring, right after I had purchased the 7D Mk II and was testing the auto-focus as the car approached me. I had to wait until other traffic cleared before I shot that photo, and by then it was too close to me for a really good photo.

Male American goldfinch

Male American goldfinch

 

JVIS2607

Grass flower

 

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

I’ve been attempting to shoot more photos like this next one, nothing special, just a collection of pretty colored stones.

Still life

Still life

And, some of the old standby subjects as well.

Queen Anne's lace seeds

Queen Anne’s lace seeds

 

Queen Anne's lace seeds

Queen Anne’s lace seeds

It’s always nice when a bird spots me…

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

…and then strikes a pose.

Female American goldfinch

Female American goldfinch

I’m always trying to become more artistic in my photography, I think that this one was a failure.

Thistle? seeds

Thistle? seeds

I’ve been meaning to post one of the dozen or more similar that I shot of the leaves that I saw like these.

Pale leaves

Pale leaves

There was a section of the trail that was in deep shade most of the day, and almost all the plants grew the green and white leaves. But since it was a deeply shaded area, I had trouble getting a good photo other than this one. I assume that the leaves didn’t get enough sunlight to trigger photosynthesis in the entire leaf?

As many times as I’m able to capture this moment when a bird realizes that I’ve snuck up closer to it than it is comfortable with, I still love shooting these photos to show the surprised expressions on the bird’s faces.

Pair of house finches

Pair of house finches

 

Pair of house finches

Pair of house finches

Another of my attempts to shoot a good still life.

High bush cranberry still life

High bush cranberry still life

And, two more birds from this summer.

Common grackle

Common grackle

 

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

By the way, the weather outside today is more typical of November in Michigan than what we’ve had so far this month. There’s a solid dark gray overcast with light snow flurries falling, and of course the temperature is below freezing with a cold wind blowing. I know that other parts of the country and other parts of the world have cold, snowy days, but then they have a few days of sunshine again afterwards. Here in Michigan, we can go a month at a time with little or no sunshine.

I should be out walking, but I haven’t come to terms with the fact that there’s no color outside on days like today, everything is a shade of grey as I look out the window. Besides, I’m waiting for UPS to delivery a goody package from B&H Photo. Nothing special in the package coming today, just a USB hub so that I can plug more things into my iMac than what the four USB ports it came with allows. I have a 1 Tb external hard drive that I use as a back-up drive. I also have a 4 Tb external hard drive where I store my images. I’m planning on adding another 4 Tb drive to use to back-up just my images, but I have no place to plug it in as it stands now. I’ve also broken down and ordered a lens cleaning kit that includes a blower and brush to remove the dust from my lenses.

The last item that I ordered brings up another point.

I’ve made very few mistakes as far as purchasing things that either don’t work at all, or don’t work for me. Other than the UV filters which I have removed from my lenses, the only other mistake that I’ve made was purchasing a monopod. I know, some people get by using a monopod, but I was never able to get the hang of using one. I fought harder to keep the monopod steady than what I did while holding the camera in my hands alone. I even purchased an inexpensive ball head to use on the monopod, which made it slightly more useful, but after I purchased the very inexpensive compact tripod that I have now to go with the very good carbon fiber tripod that I already had, I have no need of the monopod at all. That left me with the ball head and nothing to use it on. Well, that’s going to change, I’ve ordered a clamp to go on the window of my Subaru for use at the Muskegon wastewater facility, where I do much of my birding in my vehicle.

At the wastewater facility, the birds are quite used to cars driving around, and will hold relatively close to the roads even when the cars stop. But, step outside of your vehicle, and the birds vamoose as soon as they spot you.

Also, I’ve learned from my landscape photos just how important a tripod is, even in good light. So, I’ll put the ball head to use on the window clamp, clamped to the window of my Subaru, so that I’ll be able to get even better photos of the birds found there. Being able to have the camera mounted solidly will also make it easier to shoot more videos, which I hope to do in the future as well. At least that’s my plan, it remains to be seen how well it will work.

Anyway, back to the cold grey colorless days, it just isn’t fair! Just two or three weeks ago…

Before the winter storms arrived

Before the winter storms arrived

…we had colors like that outside, for me to photograph, along with this one.

More fall colors

More fall colors

Just last weekend, the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve still looked like this.

Fall's fading colors 1

Fall’s fading colors 1

 

Fall's fading colors 2

Fall’s fading colors 2

What a crybaby, we just got our first snowstorm of the year last week, and I’m already complaining about winter’s arrival. It isn’t the cold that bothers me as it is the lack of color.

Pastel leaves in the fading sunshine

Pastel leaves in the fading sunshine

 

The colors of a sunset

The colors of a sunset

Geese may not be very bright, but at least they have enough sense to fly south…

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

…when they’ve had enough of winter around here.

Canada geese in flight

Canada geese in flight

Well, that about wraps this one up. I have a feeling that it will be typical of the posts that I do for a while, a few of the photos that I’ve shot lately with a good many from this past summer and fall until I use up all of the saved photos that I have stored for my blog.

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

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26 responses

  1. Love these photos! Especially the birds

    November 23, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      November 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

  2. Awesome photos as per usual…could have done without the spider though! Lol.

    Cheers
    Josh

    November 23, 2015 at 3:05 pm

  3. Always enjoy looking through the selection of photographs that you post, keep them coming.

    November 23, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I’m sorry that I forgot to look up a few photos of the squirrels for this post.

      November 24, 2015 at 3:42 am

  4. Amazing photos and such beautifully coloured birds. From the red Chevy to the dainty dancing thistle seeds I love them all and it won’t be too long before Spring and you can start all over again!

    November 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    • Thank you very much! I’ll be shooting photos all winter, but not as many. Come spring, with flowers,insects, and migrating birds, I’ll be going crazy with my camera.

      November 24, 2015 at 3:44 am

  5. Have you considered a small portable bird hide so that you can sit quietly and never mind if it rains?

    November 23, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I did look at a few of them online from a place that sells hunting and fishing gear. They seemed rather expensive, and very heavy, the last thing I need is to try to lug another 10 to 15 pounds of hide with me.

      November 24, 2015 at 3:46 am

      • I haven’t been able to find anything suitable. The sort of throwaway tent that people take to outdoor music festivals might do.

        November 24, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      • I checked again this morning, they want too much money for the portable hides sold for hunting, plus they weigh much more than I want to carry. I’ll keep looking for a solution though.

        November 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm

  6. You’re dealing with an older memory here so you could probably post a photo of a pipit on every post and I’d never know it!
    That does look like a slime mold and those do look like thistle seeds, possibly from Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense).
    What I do with my monopod is keep my camera strap on the short side and then when I take a shot with the camera on the monopod I pull the camera forward until the strap is tight against the back of my neck, and this steadies it a lot. I’ve had the window clamp type in the past and they work well, but I don’t know how it’ll be with a real big lens on it.
    That’s a plausible theory about the green and white leaves. If there isn’t enough light to photosynthesize why bother expending extra energy making your leaves all green?
    I love that first shot of the snow dusted evergreens!

    November 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    • Thank you Allen! Talk about an older memory, I knew that the thistle seeds were from a Canada thistle when I shot the photo, but that was a couple of months ago, and I had forgotten.
      The pipits will be leaving soon also, if they haven’t already. I think that my blog would get boring if all I had were chickadees and an occasional woodpecker and squirrel.

      Now you give me the hints on how to use the monopod. 😉 That’s okay, the compact tripod is lighter and easier to carry than the monopod is, and I may end up using it one of these days.

      I’m not sure how well the birding set-up will work on a window clamp mount, but it’s worth a shot.

      I should have taken a few wider shots to show that there were several species affected, so I don’t think that disease or insects would have caused the leaves to be white. But, like I said, they were in an area of deep shade, so photographing the leaves was difficult.

      November 24, 2015 at 4:04 am

  7. I’m so sorry you are feeling really fed-up with winter already. I don’t mind seeing the same types of birds again because you photograph them so well and they are often not birds I see here. I also love your Mallard shots as I love Mallards and their funny faces

    One of my favourite shots today is the first one of Queen Anne’s Lace seeds.

    November 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I’m probably overreacting to the onset of this winter since the last two have been much worse than normal around here. I liked the link about the mallards, I had never noticed that the male’s bills looked like a dog mask before, thanks for sending it to me!

      November 24, 2015 at 4:10 am

      • I hadn’t either! Another one of those silly things that turn up on Facebook all the time!

        November 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

  8. I think I started reading your blog in winter and marvelled over the snowy owls and other bird life. As we experience high humidity and 35-40C temperatures nearly every day now, I am kind of longing for a bit of your snow. I can imagine after three months of white you would dearly miss colour though. Here I struggle through summer and look forward to the coolness of autumn and winter. Perhaps one day we will both have enough money to travel some other place during our more difficult seasons. 🙂 Thank you once again for the useful information about gear and also for another beautiful set of “left-overs.” 🙂

    November 23, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! With winter here, it isn’t the three months of snow, it’s the three months of skies that are almost always overcast. Well, since the clouds often drop snow, I guess that it is the snow to some degree. But it isn’t the whiteness that gets me, it’s that everything is grey for three months, and three months of only an occasional peak at the sun. Still, I’ll take that over your heat. 😉

      November 24, 2015 at 4:13 am

  9. Leftovers go with Thanksgiving, don’t they? Decisions, decisions… When I get bored with what I’m shooting, I just back away from photography for awhile. It works for me, but then I’ve never had the sort of dedication you display. You’ll figure something out, I’m sure!

    November 23, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Gunta! I’ve got the bug and I’ve got it bad, I consider taking my camera with me when I walk to the mailbox to retrieve my mail, that’s bad. You’re right though, I will figure something out.

      November 24, 2015 at 4:22 am

  10. Agree with you that the transition from sunny fall to bleak fall is tough on the spirit. Sounds like we are in for a wet weekend, which ushers in muddy fall. Oh boy.

    If you are desperate for nee things to shoot, bring your camera gear to my house. The dark recesses of the basement are alive with dark creatures. Upstairs, cuddly dust bunnies hide under beds, waiting for a chance to shine before your lens. New frontiers for your camera.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    November 24, 2015 at 8:33 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! Also, thanks for the offer to allow me to shoot the “wildlife” living in your home, however, I’ll have to decline that offer as it would require a sizable investment in more lighting equipment than I currently have.

      Who knows, maybe after the last two rough winters we’re in for an easy one for a change, I doubt it, but at least it’s been good so far.

      November 24, 2015 at 11:08 am

  11. Well, I can tell you from those photos, it does not look anywhere near like winter yet! I had to turn the water off to the outdoor hose (finally) a few days ago but I think I’ll actually be able to turn it back on again this weekend, December is also predicted to be fairly mild. Enjoy it while it lasts, Jerry! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving today!!!

    November 26, 2015 at 7:25 am

    • Thank you very much Lori! Those of us living east of the Mississippi sure could use a mild winter after the last two, and I’ll bet that your ducks feel the same way.

      November 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

  12. Alway beautiful photos, Jerry. Spring will be here before we know it.

    A frosty 21 degrees under clear skies here this morning. Less than a month until Winter Solstice now.

    November 26, 2015 at 11:19 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I sure hope that you’re right and spring is here before we know it. I think that bears have the right idea, sleep through winter. 😉

      November 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm