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

Let’s hope that I timed this right!

If everything goes as I have planned it, next week, I’ll be in northern Michigan for a week off from work. Right now, it’s looking as if the weather will be cool, I can handle that, if it doesn’t rain all the time. Right now though, my timing isn’t very good, I hope that it changes in the next week.

I had just gotten to the point where I was walking again, and then I went and stubbed the little toe on my left foot hard enough to shatter the nail, OUCH! I gutted it out on Sunday though, I didn’t walk any great distances, but I limited myself to just a few short jaunts to get my legs back in shape. Today, which is Monday as I start this, I did the full three-mile walk around home, and I can sure feel it in my leg muscles. This was the first day in over a month that I have walked that far. I’ll have to walk every day this week to be ready for next week. That may mean walking around parking lots as the truck is getting loaded or unload at work, but walking is walking.

Then, there’s my timing as far as posting species to the My Photo Life List project. I had just posted piping plovers with just photos of a chick when the very next day I found a pair of adults. It wasn’t long ago that I published to post on orchard orioles, and I pondered why I saw only juveniles and females around home, but never an adult male. Well, that has changed, I got an adult male here today. I’ll get to him in a while, but for a change, I’m going to begin the photos in this post with the first one that I shot on Sunday morning.

Old barn at sunrise

Old barn at sunrise

I took a different route towards Muskegon to look for landscapes to shoot at sunrise, and that’s one that I came up with, here’s another.

Crockery Creek at sunrise

Crockery Creek at sunrise

Crockery Creek isn’t a very pretty area, as it flows slowly through mostly farm country, but still, I kind of like that one.

It was a cool morning, so I started at the wastewater facility, which also meant that I didn’t have to walk on an extremely sore toe. I planned to shoot a few more ducks, but the only ones that would sit still for a photo were these two lesser scaup.

Lesser scaup

Lesser scaup

I don’t know if the ducks are getting ready to head to their summer breeding grounds or what the deal was, but I couldn’t even got close enough to them to get a photo of one in flight. I even saw ruddy ducks flying, a rare sight most of the time. I did shoot a few photos though. What can I say, I’m a sucker for an interesting cloud pattern reflected from a body of water.

Morning cloudscape

Morning cloudscape

Another species of sparrow has returned.

Savanah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

I saw the first goslings of the spring,

Goslings

Goslings

You’d think that since there are already goslings hatching here that the hundreds of ducks still at the wastewater facility would have been gone long ago, very few of them nest there.

The upland sandpipers returned last week, this week, they’re already preparing their nests.

Upland sandpiper

Upland sandpiper

This mourning dove was looking for twigs to use in a nest, it must be her second brood of the year, they are one of the earliest nesting birds here.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

With very few opportunities for a good photo, I head just up the road from the wastewater facility to Lane’s Landing.  I had just started walking when I heard a sandhill crane behind me, so I turned around to shoot this.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

There were dozens of these guys chasing each other around as they defended their territories.

Male Yellow warbler

Male Yellow warbler

I heard an American bittern, Virginia rail, and the sora again, the only one that I saw were this pair of sora.

Sora number 1

Sora number 1

 

Sora number 2

Sora number 2

 

Sora number 2

Sora number 2

I also heard the marsh wren again, well, actually, I heard three of them, I worked hard to get another poor photo of one of them.

Marsh wren

Marsh wren

As soon as I started moving after shooting the wren, I saw a large bird flying away from me that could have only been the American Bittern. I have already photographed and posted on that species, but still, I’d like to catch one not in flight, as the photos that I did for that post are of one flying past me.

It’s been amazing to me how once I have made a positive identification of a species how that sticks in my brain, and most of the time, as soon as I see another individual of the same species, I know exactly what it is. Case in point, this field sparrow.

Field sparrow

Field sparrow

Just their lighter coloration and “clean” face was enough for me to realize what that bird was, when so many sparrows look identical at first.

I’ve said that I’ve worked hard to get the poor photos of the marsh wren that I have, but that hard work will pay off. It’s the time of the year when the small, very quick birds that spend all their time in the foliage looking for food return to this area. Here’s a few that I managed a photo of on Sunday.

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

Blue-grey gnatcatcher

 

American redstart singing

American redstart singing

 

American redstart singing

American redstart singing

 

Red-eyed vireo

Red-eyed vireo

Rose-breasted grosbeaks aren’t tiny little birds, but they do spend most of their time hidden in the leaves. Here’s a series of photos of a female capturing a caterpillar and eating it, slurping it down like a noodle.

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

 

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

 

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

 

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

 

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

 

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch

I walked all the way to where the dike is washed out at Lane’s Landing, then back to my car. In the parking lot, I found this guy that I just had to photograph.

Male chipping sparrow

Male chipping sparrow

My next stop was the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, and almost as soon as I stepped out of my car, I found a baby bunny to shoot.

Juvenile cottontail rabbit

Juvenile cottontail rabbit

On the first boardwalk along the edge of a marsh, I found Mr. Grumpy’s American cousin.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

He was looking for an out of the way spot to take his afternoon siesta, and never moved while I tied several places to shoot from, trying to get a clear view of him. He must have had a very good morning fishing, as the rest of the birds were still active, one way…

Yellow-Rumped warbler

Yellow-Rumped warbler

…or another.

Brown thrasher chasing a meal

Brown thrasher chasing a meal

 

Brown thrasher eating a meal

Brown thrasher eating a meal

The palm warblers have returned.

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

 

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

I’ve been short on cute, cuddly mammals here lately, so to go with the baby bunny, a grey squirrel…

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

…that hammed it up a bit when he heard the shutter going.

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

I see now that those two are a bit too blue, I should have warmed them up a little in Lightroom, oops, sorry.

Those photos weren’t cropped at all, that’s the way that they came out of the camera, which brings up something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Yes, I’d like a full frame sensor camera body, but that’s a long way off. I’m almost positive that Canon will upgrade the 5D Mk III to the 5D Mk IV soon, however, I’ll still wait until I purchase one, probably at least a year, maybe longer. I know now how Canon does things. First, they will announce the upgrade, and take orders before it goes into production. Canon will hand out “pre-production” versions to their paid spokespeople, who will all rave about how that camera is the best that Canon has ever built, to fuel demand for it. A few months later, Canon will begin shipping the new model, at full price. After demand wanes a little, they’ll offer a small rebate for a while, and by the time a year or so has passed, they will up the amount of the rebate. So, since I know all of this, I’d be dumb to pay full price when I know that if I wait, the price will come down.

In the meantime, I could buy some of the accessories that I’d like to have for my 7D Mk II, such as a battery grip. I do carry a spare battery for each of my cameras, and the 7D is the only body that has drained a single battery in one day of shooting. So, having a battery grip that holds two batteries isn’t a bad idea. Not only that, but the battery grip allows for the use of AA batteries if you’re out in the boonies and can’t recharge the regular batteries for it.

Another really good feature of the battery grip is that it also has a duplicate set of buttons so when you hold the camera in the portrait orientation, one doesn’t have to fumble around trying to find the auto-focus or shutter release buttons the way that I do now when I was trying to photograph the squirrel. No more bending my thumb around in such a way that I don’t poke myself in the eye when trying to find the auto-focus button the way that I have to now.

Another accessory would be a microphone. That way, when I shot a video of a bird singing, you’d be able to hear the bird I was shooting the video of, without as much background noise. First though, I have to train the birds better.

On Sunday, I had two male catbirds having a singing war, with one of them on either side of me. Catbirds mimic the songs of other birds, taking bits and pieces of the other bird’s songs, and blending it into their own. I posted a video about their ability to mimic other bird’s songs quite a while back. I’ve heard a lot of catbirds sing, but the one to my left was putting all the others to shame, I’ve never heard anything like him before. The only problem was that I couldn’t see him. If I had shot a video, the visual would have been boring, just the green leaves, but the symphony that the catbird was composing on the fly, made up of snippets of other bird’s songs, was simply amazing, I’ve never heard anything like it before. About that time, he moved so I knew where he was, and I could even make him out through the leaves…

Male grey catbird

Male grey catbird

…I broke out into laughter right after that photo, he heard the shutter go off and moved just enough so that I could no longer see his eye. I can’t help but think that he knew darned well what he was doing. That may be just a sign of my warped sense of humor, I love playing hide and seek with birds, doing my best to get a clear view of them as they do their best to remain hidden from the camera.

That brings up another point, how much higher my standards have become for the photos that I post here. Other than the marsh wrens, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a photo with most of the bird hidden from view. The first step was making sure that you could see the bird’s eye. Then it became trying to get the lighting right so that you could see the catch light in the bird’s eye. Now, I try to get close enough with good enough lighting that you can see the bird’s pupil in its eye. That doesn’t always show in my photos here in their smaller size, but when I view these full screen on my computer, you can definitely see the bird’s pupil in each of these next images.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

I think that this chickadee was looking for insects within the cattails, at first, I thought that it was gathering the fluffy stuff for its nest, but it never carried any of it away.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

Male rose-breasted grosbeak

 

Eastern phoebe

Eastern phoebe

Well, I’ve reached my self-imposed limit for photos in one post, and I still have a few left overs from Sunday, plus all the photos that I shot on Monday, so I’ll try to squeeze in one more post this week as I get ready for my vacation next week.

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

Advertisements

28 responses

  1. Lots of good stuff here, I particularly enjoyed the old barn and that wonderful cloudscape.

    May 10, 2016 at 4:09 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I do luck out some times when shooting things other than birds.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:09 pm

  2. Some very nice shots, particularly liked the Savannah Sparrow. Hope our week off goes well!

    May 10, 2016 at 6:38 am

    • Thank you very much Bob!

      May 10, 2016 at 11:10 pm

  3. Non-stop, beautiful photos, Jerry! I just love the Female rose-breasted grosbeak eating lunch, awesome action! And you cannot help but smile at your yellow warbler singing, he looks so happy!! 🙂

    May 10, 2016 at 8:19 am

    • Thank you very much again Donna! Sometimes I manage to be in the right place at the right time.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:16 pm

  4. I love how you catch the birds singing, their beaks open wide and tilted skyward, such an amazing pose. Great post as usual!

    May 10, 2016 at 8:39 am

    • Thank you very much! It’s actually easy to catch the birds singing, they are so intent on attracting a mate and/or defining their territory that they will let me approach them as they sing.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

  5. A great series of photos, Jerry, all of them. Hard to pick a favorite. The lighting and color in that old barn photo is fantastic.

    May 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I passed by that old barn, but I was compelled to turn around and go back for that photo.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:21 pm

  6. Fantastic post Jerry! I am sorry you have hurt your foot just as your leg was getting better! Hope you are cured by the time you go off on vacation. So many beautiful shots and lots of really interesting stuff to read!

    May 10, 2016 at 11:48 am

    • Thank you very much Clare! My foot is doing much better, I may not be 100% when I go on vacation, but close to it. Besides, I found that a sore foot slows me down, and slowing down got me closer to the birds. 😉

      May 10, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      • There is always something positive to be found in any situation 😀

        May 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm

  7. I echo Clare’s thoughts about your foot and legs. I hope you’ll be able to get around okay on vacation.
    I love the shots of the barn and the creek and the clouds. They all have beautiful light, and who couldn’t love the squirrel and bunny!
    The heron almost folded into himself. I’m sure he was hoping you didn’t see him. I saw what would have been a fantastic shot of a heron the other day but of course I didn’t have my camera.
    Of all the different bird shots I think the sora is my favorite, but what a name for a bird!

    May 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! My foot is doing much better, but I found that it slowed me down, and slowing down got me better photos of the birds.

      I’m really taking Michael Melford’s advice to heart, when you get good light, shoot whatever you can find. The light is as important as the subject, sometimes more important.

      The heron knew that I was there, it was one of the rare times when it didn’t care. It was on the other side of a channel through the marsh, and apparently knew that I couldn’t reach it.

      The sora are quiet unassuming birds that spend ll their time wading in marshes. Most people would never see them, you really have to make an effort to find them.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:36 pm

  8. Another excellent collection. I liked the barn at the top of the post but it was hard to pick a favourite out of your collection of small birds though perhaps the Grosbeak having a meal shaded it.

    May 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! We don’t have ancient ruins to photograph around here, so the old barn had to do. 😉 It’s spring here in Michigan, when millions of the smaller birds are passing through, it’s hard not to love this time of year.

      May 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      • I can believe it.

        May 11, 2016 at 11:55 am

  9. Love the Sandhill Cranes. Hoping to catch sight of one of those someday.

    May 11, 2016 at 12:11 am

    • Thank you very much Gunta! As quickly as they are re-populating Michigan, it won’t be that long until they become a common sight. I hope that the same holds true for your part of the world.

      May 11, 2016 at 12:13 am

  10. Coming back from a week on the West Coast, I can’t help but admire your beautiful shots, with such a variety of birds this time. Very, very impressive!

    May 11, 2016 at 7:46 am

    • Thank you very much! I had an exceptionally fine day.

      May 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

  11. So many great photos to enjoy- thank you! I think you should make up a caption to go with your squirrel photo- I’m sure he’s saying/thinking something!

    May 11, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    • Thank you very much! You’re right, I should have come up with a caption for the squirrel photos, I will the next time.

      May 12, 2016 at 12:15 am

  12. I really liked your close-up, uncropped shots. While it’s better sometimes to see the bird in more context of its surroundings, the close-ups were great.

    Hoping for good weather for your vacation -they are too few a d far between to waste them on crappy weather, especially when you’re camping. Glad your foot is coming along. Getting old sucks, doesn’t it?

    May 12, 2016 at 12:11 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I’ll take the close-ups when I can, but I also like the slightly wider shots that show the birds in their surroundings. There’s room for both, and I’m pretty good at catching smaller birds in action.

      I just hope for an overall dry week for a change for my vacation. It’s going to be cool, but that’s okay, it will keep the bugs down. Yes, getting old does suck, but it still beats the alternative. 😉

      May 12, 2016 at 12:19 am

  13. I especially like very much ‘Morning cloudscape’, those fluffy goslings (I am wondering if they are noisy?), the eye of the upland sand pieper, the sandhill cranes. But I enjoy seeing them all.

    May 12, 2016 at 3:03 am

    • Thank you very much Cornell! The goslings are nothing like their parents yet, keeping quiet keeps them from being found by predators. But by fall, they honk away just like the adults.

      May 12, 2016 at 3:28 pm