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

Day two of my vacation

Warning! There’s no way that I can stay under my self-imposed limit for photos in one post although I will try to keep them as short as I can. If I included all the photos that I would like, I’d be blogging about my vacation until July.

As early as I went to bed the night before, I thought that I’d be up well before sunrise, but that wasn’t the case. When I woke up and looked out of my tent, I could see that the sun was about ready to rise, and that it was quite chilly out there.

One thing about being near the Great Lakes, you learn a lot about microclimates in a hurry. When I checked the thermometer in my almost brand new pretty blue Subaru, it read 33 degrees (1 C), but that was still much warmer than it was a few miles inland away from the relatively warm water of Lake Huron, which was about 40 degrees (4.4 C) while I was up there. There was a hard freeze inland. Conversely, during the warmth of the afternoon, a breeze off from the lake felt chilly, so I was constantly adding or removing layers of clothing depending on how close to Lake Huron I was, and which way the wind was blowing at the time.

Anyway, I got dressed, fired up the camp stove to brew coffee, then set-up to shoot the sunrise.

Sunrise over Lake Huron

Sunrise over Lake Huron

But, I liked this close up better…

Sunrise at Ossinke SF

Sunrise at Ossineke SF

…as well as the early morning sunlight streaming through the pines in my campsite.

Sunlight through the pines

Sunlight through the pines

As I drank my coffee, I waited for the flocks of warblers to pass through my campsite as they had in previous years, but that didn’t happen this year. So, I decided to walk down to the point where I had seen so many birds in previous years. Along the way, I shot this blue-headed vireo…

Blue-headed vireo

Blue-headed vireo

…and this black-throated green warbler…

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

…as well as another song sparrow.

Song sparrow

Song sparrow

Down at the point, the only shorebird that I found was this killdeer…

Killdeer

Killdeer

…but the common terns kept me amused as one tried to steal a fish from another…

Common terns fighting over a fish

Common terns fighting over a fish

…I think that the one on the stump was teasing the other…

Common tern with fish

Common tern with fish

…which let the one on the stump know that it didn’t like to be teased.

Common tern in flight

Common tern in flight

The common terns gave me lots of practice shooting birds in flight over the course of the week!

Common terns in flight

Common terns in flight

What I really needed was practice shooting smaller birds that don’t stay in any one spot for very long, like the warblers. That was especially true when I was using the 300 mm L series lens with the 1.4 X tele-converter behind it, I was missing more birds than what I managed to get good photos of. I can’t tell you how many times there were when the camera and lens finally focused, on a branch bouncing around because the bird that had been there had moved on.

It wasn’t just the warblers, but they were the worst. Here’s a short video to show you how things normally go for me.

I think that sums it up quite well!

I could go on at length about the advantages and disadvantages on my lenses, but I won’t. I’ll only say that over the week, I used the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) when I thought that I’d be chasing small birds in good light, and that I used the 300 mm lens and tele-converter when I thought that I’d be shooting birds in flight or in low light. The Beast may not produce the best images, but it has a nose for birds and can find and focus on them much more quickly than my other set-up.

Magnolia warbler

Magnolia warbler

Here are the birds that I got on my second pass through the campground.

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

 

Chestnut-sided warbler in flight

Chestnut-sided warbler in flight

 

Female American redstart

Female American redstart

 

Palm warbler

Palm warbler

 

Yellow-Romped warbler

Yellow-Rumped warbler

 

Brown thrasher

Brown thrasher singing

I then decided to drive to Isaacson Bay on the other side of Alpena. Things have changed a lot there also, what used to be acres of mudflats for shorebirds are now underwater, with the bay coming right up to the road in many places. Still, I found plenty to photograph there, starting with these flowers that I thought were bluets, but now I’m not sure.

Bluets?

Bluets?

There was a pair of sandhill cranes there, but they had the sun behind them, so I’m only going to post one photo of one of them.

Sandhill crane

Sandhill crane

I found a large number of the threatened dwarf lake iris…

Dwarf lake iris

Dwarf lake iris

But before I could try for a better photo of them, I got sidetracked by a bumblebee feeding on the nectar of bearberry flowers (Thanks Allen!)…

Bumblebee and bearberry flowers

Bumblebee and bearberry flowers

…at one point, the bumblebee fell off from the flowers…

Bumblebee falling upside down

Bumblebee falling upside down

…but recovered to return to feeding once more.

Bumblebee and bearberry flowers

Bumblebee and bearberry flowers

I remembered to shoot two more photos of the dwarf lake iris.

Dwarf lake iris

Dwarf lake iris

The dwarf lake iris only grow in a few places around the Great Lakes, which is why they are a threatened species of flower.

Dwarf lake iris

Dwarf lake iris

Then, I returned to my vehicle and grabbed the Beast to shoot a few more warblers.

Chestnut-sided warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

Since they’re so colorful and I rarely see them, I think a few more photos of them would be a good thing.

Chestnut-sided warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

 

Chestnut-sided warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

 

Chestnut-sided warbler

Chestnut-sided warbler

Did I say that there were American redstarts everywhere?

Female American redstart

Female American redstart

 

Male American redstart

Male American redstart

 

Male American redstart

Male American redstart

When a turkey vulture flew over, I tried using the settings that I use with the 300 mm lens on the Beast, it worked quite well.

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

 

Turkey vulture in flight

Turkey vulture in flight

All those (and many, many more) were shot as I walked along the road that runs next to Isaacson Bay.

It was now mid-afternoon, so I decided to check out Island Park in Alpena, which is part of the Alpena Nature Sanctuary. The first thing that I noticed is that they have built a new covered bridge to use to get to the island.

The bridge to Island Park in Alpena, Michigan

The bridge to Island Park in Alpena, Michigan

I found the black terns, but they kept their distance, so this photo isn’t that good.

Black terns in flight

Black terns in flight

I was also surprised to see a deer crossing the river in town in the middle of the day.

Whitetail deer crossing the Thunder Bay River

Whitetail deer crossing the Thunder Bay River

There were tree swallows everywhere.

Tree swallow

Tree swallow

I meant to note which tree these catkins grew from, but I’ve forgotten already.

Unidentified catkin

Unidentified catkin

This male? chickadee was guarding a hollow tree…

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

…while the female? gathered moss to line a nest she was building in the hollow tree.

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

It’s been a while since I posted any photos of mallards.

Male mallard

Male mallard

 

Female mallard

Female mallard

That was it for Island Park on that day, I grabbed dinner in town, then returned to the campground to walk it off.

I started by shooting a couple of photos of the swamps in or near the campground.

An Ossineke swamp 1

An Ossineke swamp 1

I think you can see why I think that the skeeters would be bad in the summer there.

An Ossineke swamp 2

An Ossineke swamp 2

This was the evening that I saw the least weasel.

Least weasel

Least weasel

She jumped down off from the log, and I thought that she was gone. No, she popped back up in another spot…

Least weasel

Least weasel

…and struck a few poses for me…

Least weasel

Least weasel

 

Least weasel

Least weasel

…it was then that I decided that I should turn the camera to portrait orientation, but as soon as I moved, she was off again. For the next ten to fifteen minutes, we played a game where she would stick her head out someplace along the log, but as soon as she heard the IS and auto-focus of the camera whirling…

Least weasel

Least weasel

She was off before the shutter could fire and catch her standing still. I have a dozen photos like that last one, she was quick, as quick as any critter I’ve ever seen! I wondered later if the way she acted, appearing in the open for a second or two, was to keep me from finding her young which may have been nearby?

The three remaining photos from the day seem anti-climatic, but too good not to post.

Mourning cloak butterfly

Mourning cloak butterfly

 

Another mini-scape

Another mini-scape

 

A natural representation of a bear

A natural representation of a bear

With hardly a cloud in the sky, I doubted if the sunset that evening would be worth photographing, and with the temperature plummeting, I turned in early that night as well.

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

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31 responses

  1. Marvelous! I am a bird lover so of course I love all of these, but the weasel is completely adorable!

    May 26, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    • Thank you very much Cindy! The weasel was the prettiest critter that I have ever seen, it’s hard to believe that they are vicious little things.

      May 27, 2016 at 12:15 am

  2. Your love for nature and photography are so evident. Well done.

    May 27, 2016 at 12:00 am

    • Thank you very much Cynthia!

      May 27, 2016 at 12:14 am

  3. That’s a great haul of photos for just one day. Love the close-up of the sunset, although I would never think of doing that myself. It really came out great.

    That little least weasel looks like a charmer. You really got several nice portraits of her.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    May 27, 2016 at 1:10 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! That’s what I love about digital cameras, it doesn’t cost anything but time to try something new, like the pines at dawn. I would rank the photos of the weasel as my best captures ever, not that the photos are the best ever, but finding a weasel for photos that good is not an easy task. I’m surprised that I didn’t blow my chance. πŸ˜‰

      May 27, 2016 at 10:11 am

  4. I like those pine needles against the light os sunrise, the Northern flicker, the beautiful photo of the Tree swallow standing on the branch, the Black-capped chickadee, mallards, that cute least weasel, and that interesting natural representation of a bear.

    May 27, 2016 at 2:10 am

    • Thank you very much Cornell! There may be more of your favorites that I shot during the rest of the week.

      May 27, 2016 at 10:08 am

  5. Amazing colours and lovely birds! πŸ™‚

    May 27, 2016 at 3:29 am

    • Thank you very much! Just a good week is all it was.

      May 27, 2016 at 10:07 am

  6. What a variety of wildlife. Fantastic photos.

    May 27, 2016 at 3:54 am

    • Thank you very much! Northern Michigan at its best.

      May 27, 2016 at 10:06 am

  7. Very nice group of photos. Love your first shot of the chickadee!

    May 27, 2016 at 5:41 am

    • Thank you very much Bob! I never tire of photographing chickadees!

      May 27, 2016 at 10:06 am

  8. TPJ

    Thanks for sharing.

    May 27, 2016 at 7:27 am

    • Thank you very much!

      May 27, 2016 at 10:05 am

  9. Don’t worry about how long it will take you to post all your favorite photos. They deserve the time, and I like them all!

    May 27, 2016 at 7:56 am

    • Thank you very much! It took me a week to add keywords to all the photos that I shot, and to rate them. It’s time to shoot some more!

      May 27, 2016 at 10:05 am

  10. Day two certainly had lots of interest for you to photograph. Wonderful bird photos especially like the light through the vulture’s feathers. Hope the deer found the rest of its herd and that cute weasel found whatever it was looking for!

    May 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    • Thank you very much! Our deer don’t stay in a herd during the spring and summer, they spread out more. When fall comes, they form small herds, usually ten to twenty deer to a herd.

      May 27, 2016 at 3:24 pm

  11. I think the shots of the weasel would have made the whole week a winner for me but the sunrise was excellent too.
    The tree catkins look like oak to me but I could be wrong.
    I thought the flower you thought was a bluet might be a red campion, but the yellow center isn’t right. Bladder campion doesn’t really fit either.
    That’s a big river for a deer to be swimming. I hope it made it.
    It’s nice to see the dwarf iris and the bearberry but my favorite shot has to be the bear. That’s amazing!

    May 27, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! Yes, the weasel made it a great week, since I seldom catch even a glimpse of one.

      The bluet saga will become even more entangled in the next post, as you will see.

      The deer made it all the way across the river no problem, the river is wide but shallow there. I wanted to get closer to the “bear” to see what created it, but there was the arm of a swamp in the way.

      May 27, 2016 at 11:39 pm

  12. The weasel is the clear winner but I liked everything else as well. So far your holiday seems to have gone very well.

    May 27, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! The week that I was off from work got better and better as the week went along.

      May 27, 2016 at 11:34 pm

  13. Those are a great series of photos, Jerry! Hard to pick favorites, although the weasel is certainly up there. She was a very cooperative subject for that study. Sounds like you had a great time off from work, and that is one awesome vacation!

    May 28, 2016 at 11:05 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! It will be hard to top the weasel, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other new subjects. It was a great vacation, and it kept getting better as the week went on.

      May 28, 2016 at 11:38 am

  14. I enjoyed the whole post from beginning to end! The weasel is indeed very cute but I also liked the common tern in flight, the turkey vulture, the swallow and chickadee. The iris are beautiful and I hope you eventually identify the ‘bluets’.

    May 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! Thanks to Allen, I know that some of the “bluets” were Bird’s eye primrose, but there are still questions about some of the others.

      May 29, 2016 at 4:21 am

  15. Behind on your posts, I missed commenting before your trip and the last post before commenting closed. Those two and this post showcase jaw-dropping awesome captures, Jerry! A great escape from the working world! πŸ™‚

    June 9, 2016 at 12:48 am

    • Thank you very much Donna! I hope that you’re enjoying your new life style on the road, and that it all works out well for you.

      June 9, 2016 at 7:47 am

      • We are and so far so good. Been just logging in the miles past days, but we’ll be in Gallup NM today for a few night stay to rest, relax & explore. πŸ™‚

        June 9, 2016 at 8:14 am