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

Day four 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.

With hardly a cloud in the sky, the sunrise on the fourth day of my vacation wasn’t worth photographing. However, as I was drinking my coffee, I shot this photo of a squirrel eating a breakfast of leaf buds in my campsite…

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

…while this one chose to take his breakfast out to a dead tree on the beach where he could soak up a little early morning sun.

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel

That could be because even though the thermometer said that it was a little warmer than it had been at dawn on the previous days, it felt a little chillier. That’s because there was just a bit of a breeze that morning, when the others had been dead calm.

The other photo that I shot that morning while in the campground, was of this lyre-leaved rock cress.

Lyre-leaved rock cress

Lyre-leaved rock cress

My legs had been feeling a good deal better as the week wore on, I had noticed that there was almost a spring in my step the previous day, but I took it easy not wanting to over do it. I was also eating better this week than what has been my usual routine on vacations the last few years. Instead of trying to get by with eating as little as possible except for supper, I was going to a sit down restaurant when I got hungry, both for real food and a chance to rest my legs. That, and I didn’t try to be on the go 100% of the time like I usually do while on vacation, I was taking the time to enjoy this one.

Anyway, with my legs feeling much better, I decided that it was the day to tackle the trails at Negwegon State Park, just a few miles south of the campground that I was staying at. This is where I had met my Waterloo on my last trip to this area. I only made it half way up the north trail before my body gave out from all the abuse that I had subjected it to in the days leading up to that hike. It wasn’t because the trail is difficult, just the opposite, it’s an easy trail to hike. But, I had let myself get run down and dehydrated by the time that I hiked there on my last vacation there. Not this time, I was feeling good, and the day went very well.

I don’t know if it is the same pair, but once again, a pair of Phoebe have made their nest under the roof of the information kiosk in the parking lot. Here’s one of them, out looking for insects to feed to its young.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

One of the things that I’ve been working on this year is to shoot what I call mini-scapes. That is, using my wide-angle lens to photograph smaller scenes, like this one.

Negwegon State Park mini-scape.

Negwegon State Park mini-scape.

I love the variety of vegetation, I could have spent an hour or more there trying to shoot each species of plant individually, but then there’s no context as to how they all grow together, and how lovely the overall scene is. I need to work on those more though…

Marsh marigolds

Marsh marigolds

… as well as my traditional landscape photos.

Lake Huron at Negwegon State Park

Lake Huron at Negwegon State Park

I tried that scene two different ways, I’m not completely happy with either of them.

Lake Huron at Negwegon State Park 2

Lake Huron at Negwegon State Park 2

I should have looked for a better spot to shoot from.

This is what happens when I have the 60D body with the 15-85 mm lens on it shooting landscapes when a bald eagle flies past me.

Almost a bald eagle in flight

Almost a bald eagle in flight

I didn’t have time to set the 60D down and grab the 7D with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) on it, so I was shooting with the camera set-up for HDR images, with a 2 second time delay on the shutter release, bracketing the exposure by 2 stops, along with slow shutter speeds from having the ISO set to its lowest setting, 100. But, I was getting so few eagle photos that I thought that I had to try, I should have deleted that one. However, I saved it to remind myself to always be ready, and not let myself be lulled into forgetting about possible wildlife shots while I’m enjoying the day as much as I was at that point.

I a way, I’m surprised that I noticed the eagle at all, as I was in a state of near total bliss at the time. The weather was as close to perfect to be out walking as it can get, although not so good for landscape photos. I was alright with that, I felt great, it was a beautiful spot to take a break and enjoy the day, all was right with the world as far as I was concerned at the time.

If it matters, that was at the first walk-in campsite that you can reserve there in Negwegon State Park, there are several more scattered through the park, which has been left in its wild state as much as possible.

Anyway, as I started back up the trail, I met a flicker leaving her nest.

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

It turned out to be a woodpecker kind of day, as you will see later, but first, some breaking news. Next week, I’ll be starting a new run at work, this one starts at 10 AM vs. the old run I have been doing which started at 2 AM! For at least the rest of this summer I should be able to get a walk in before work, just after sunrise, my favorite time of the day to be outside!

Anyway, back to my hike. I found a few early spring flowers still blooming, here are two of them…

Hepatica

Hepatica

 

Trillium

Trillium

…and this mid-spring flower.

Yellow violet?

Yellow violet?

I was looking up in the trees most of the time, hoping to catch some warblers, vireos or thrushes, instead, I found a red-breasted nuthatch.

Red-breasted nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch

I also found a yellow-bellied sapsucker working on a nesting cavity.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsucker

There were also dozens of blue jays, more on them later as well as the woodpeckers, but here’s a preview.

Blue jay

Blue jay

The only warbler photo from my hike was this one.

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

There were plenty of palm and yellow-rumped warblers as well, but they’ve been appearing here regularly, so I’ll hold of posting any from this day.

Along the entire length of the trail, there was one of these about every 30 feet or so.

Eastern chipmunk

Eastern chipmunk

If I had set my mind to it, I could have done a post of nothing but the different chipmunks chattering at me as I walked along the trail.

I spotted a red-bellied woodpecker off to my right, but as I was raising the camera to get a shot of it, I noticed this fly up to me to my left, so I quickly turned and shot him instead…

Red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker

…because these are much less common that the red-bellied…

Red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker

…I’m posting three shots of him.

Red-headed woodpecker

Red-headed woodpecker

I arrived at the South Point campsite, and once I got past the view…

The view from South Point in Negwegon State Park

The view from South Point in Negwegon State Park

…I noticed that on the island in Thunder Bay that you can see in the right side of the photo above, the gulls and crows were creating quite a commotion.

Birds on Bird Island

Birds on Bird Island

The name of the island just happens to be Bird Island, the gulls and other birds probably nest there in the hundreds or even thousands. Unfortunately, the crows were probably hanging around to pick off a careless young gull or eggs that a female gull left unprotected.

Earlier I had a photo of a blue jay, and I said that there were dozens of them. They weren’t acting as blue jays normally do, sounding their alarm calls whenever they saw me, they were all quiet other than their social calls to one another. I’ve never thought of blue jays as migratory birds, as there are always some around all winter, but it turns out, many of them do migrate, and here’s a few of them heading back to the north.

A migrating flock of blue jays

A migrating flock of blue jays

I zoomed in a little for this next one, so that you can tell that they are blue jays.

A migrating flock of blue jays

A migrating flock of blue jays

Here’s a strangler trying to catch up to the flock, but I couldn’t get it and the flock in focus al at once.

A migrating flock of blue jays

A migrating flock of blue jays

I sat there at the campsite at South Point for quite a while, just enjoying the fine spring day, I also shot this one last photo from there, a paper birch catkin.

The catkins from a paper birch tree

The catkins from a paper birch tree

I didn’t really want to leave, but I was running low on water, and although my legs felt great, I still had two and a half miles to go to get back to my car, so I set off on the return walk back. Along the way, I stopped to shoot this guy…

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

…as long as he kept posing…

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

…I kept shooting.

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker

I heard several pileated woodpeckers that day, and saw one flying across the trail in front of me, but I was never able to get a photo of any of them. That’s the way that the entire week went as far as that species is concerned.

I walked at a brisk pace on my way back to my car, as by now, there were few birds singing any longer, and I really wanted to test my legs. They held up just fine, and as I type this, I’m happy to report that the improvement continues, and that I’m back close to 100% again.

After that hike, it was time for something to eat, so I drove into Alpena for that. On the way back to the campground, I stopped at Partridge Point once again to shoot these…

Great egret

Great egret

…sorry for so many egret photos from this trip, but they were everywhere, and I rarely see them around home. Not so with these guys, but it is my first photo of a kingbird this year…

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird

…and any time that I get a chance to photograph a brown thrasher out in the open…

Brown thrasher singing

Brown thrasher singing

…I’ll take it, if they are singing…

Brown thrasher not singing

Brown thrasher not singing

…or not.

I don’t know if it is because we had a mild winter after two harsh ones, but not only am I seeing more flowers than I have the last two springs, I’ve already seen more dragonflies…

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

…and butterflies than I had the last two springs. I finally caught one of these tiny blue butterflies with its wings open…

Unidentified fluttering object

Unidentified fluttering object

…but wouldn’t you know, there was that plant obscuring my view, and casting a shadow on the butterfly. As soon as I moved, so did the butterfly. I didn’t have that problem with this though.

Snail

Snail

That was in one of the many puddles along the trail at Partridge Point, which was still mostly flooded due to all the rain this spring.

When I returned to my car, I had a nice conversation with a guy who owns a gorgeous home with a magnificent view looking out over Partridge Point and Thunder Bay as he waited for his grandchildren to return from school. He told me where to find the second access site that I had looked for, but hadn’t been able to find, as it looks like the driveway to a home. I didn’t have time to check it out then, I returned the next day for that. Since it was getting to be late afternoon, I wanted to get back to the campground for a walk there, and to shoot the sunset if was a good one.

On the way back to my campsite, I paused at the public access site nearby, where the Devil’s River flows into Thunder Bay and Lake Huron. I had seen a few birds there in previous years, but found only robins there on this day. However, I did shoot this landscape of the river as it flows between the houses just before it meets Thunder Bay.

The Devil's River at Thunder Bay

The Devil’s River at Thunder Bay

Normally, I try to shoot photos in less developed areas, but that sums up the weather that day, and how pretty northern Michigan is in the spring.

As I was doing my evening tour back at the campground, I heard the tree swallows making a commotion out over the lake and was able to shoot this.

Tree swallows in flight

Tree swallows in flight

I don’t know if it has to do with mating or if it’s just part of their social behavior, but swallows often chase each other around squawking as they do.

One thing that I had intended to do was to take my camp chair down to the point where I see so many birds and just sit there and shoot away. But if you can believe it, the one thing that I forgot to pack was the chair. I wish that I hadn’t, because of all the places that I went while on this trip, that point in the campground is where I saw the most birds and in a very limited area, as waves of migrating birds passed through.

On my first evening there, I missed many birds because I was using the 300 mm lens with the extender behind it, and that set-up couldn’t focus fast enough for the birds that I saw. On the second evening there, I missed one of these…

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

…because of how I had to move to get the Beast through the brush and up to my eye, scaring the warbler off before I could get a photo. This one seemed to be quite content to pose for me…

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

…and even put up with circling it to get better light.

Wilson's warbler

Wilson’s warbler

So, things worked out well in the end, as I did get my best photos ever of a Wilson’s warbler. There were a few other birds there…

Yellow-Rumped warbler

Yellow-Rumped warbler

…but that was the only other photo from that evening that I’m going to post, as far as birds that is.

With hardly a cloud in the sky, the sunset was a bust, but as I looked across Thunder Bay, I could see a mirage forming on the other side.

A mirage across Thunder Bay

A mirage across Thunder Bay

It was a bit weird seeing the opposite shoreline and an upside down mirror image of it above the real shoreline, but those are the tricks that the weather can play on your eyes when conditions are just right.

I don’t think that my photos from the day reflect just how close to perfect this day was. The temperature was great for hiking, a light breeze coming off from Lake Huron mixing with the scent of pines and cedars on shore, and my legs not only made to the end of the hike, they felt great afterwards! I slept so well that night that I never woke up when a group of campers unloaded four vehicles to set-up five tents in the campsite next to mine. I could have posted a wider variety of birds from this day, but I chose instead to post multiple photos of birds that I rarely see. The next day would be much the same, if anything, even better.

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

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24 responses

  1. Squirrels, lovely colourful birds, beautiful views, pretty insects, your post has it all and to finish a mirage. Who could ask for more.

    June 3, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! It was one of the best days of my life, I’m glad that at least a little of that came through in my photos.

      June 3, 2016 at 11:50 pm

  2. Fantastic! I am so pleased you had recovered well enough to really enjoy your hike. There are so many superb shots in this post that it is very difficult to select just a few to talk about. However, I did like the Marsh Marigold photo so much because of the light you captured. I cannot photograph yellow flowers! The Chipmunk is very cute and the Blue Jay looks as though it’s enjoying sitting in the sunshine. The mirage is fascinating!

    June 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! Photographing yellow flowers can be tricky, I have deleted tons of photos of them trying to get them right. It was a fine day, and I think that all the wildlife that I saw were enjoying the day as much or more than I, which is usually a good recipe for photography.

      June 3, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      • Fine weather makes such a lot of difference to the way we react to things and I’m sure you’re right when you say that the wildlife must enjoy it too.

        June 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      • It sure makes their lives’ easier most of the time. 😉

        June 5, 2016 at 7:04 am

  3. Congrats on getting some photos of the red-headed woodpecker! We were up for 10 days and heard they were being spotted around there, but we didn’t see any. Also, those Wilson’s warbler shots are awesome! We didn’t see hardly any warblers this time, except lots of American red starts at the Island Park in Alpena, and it seemed like there were chestnut-sided everywhere we went! I love the yellow-bellied sapsuckers and we saw a lot of them at our place this time. Our experience with the pileated were the same as yours, we saw them as they zoomed through the woods! Great photos, Jerry! Glad you had such a great vacation!

    June 3, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    • Thank you and welcome back Amy! I’m glad that you found Island Park, hard to believe that there’s a place like that right in town. I saw plenty of palm and yellow-rumped warblers but just a few chestnut-sided here and there the first few days I was up there. I hope that you enjoyed your stay as much as I did.

      June 3, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      • We did have a great time — 10 days was like heaven for me! And, we have hot water now, so I can take a real shower! LOL

        It was interesting, the day we went over to Island Park and the township nature preserve, we stopped at Misery Bay to eat our lunch and another birder/photographer stopped to talk with us, he was from the area. He said one of the reasons for the low number of warblers when we were there was due to the three big snows they had in April, that it knocked so many of the bugs down that there were fewer warblers around. Don’t know how scientifically true that is, but it made sense to us as there sure weren’t nearly as many around this year as last. He showed us a photo on his camera of an Avocet that he had taken there near Misery/Thompson’s Bay just a few days before! It was incredible!

        Funny, but we ended up finding the best birding spot on our very LAST day! We had taken our garbage to the dump and on the way back went down into the Hardwood Hills to walk the dogs and wouldn’t you know, there were birds everywhere! Mark saw a hooded warbler but I only got a passing glance, not enough for a photo or for me to put it on my list. Also, funny that you were up there around the same time because I actually was thinking about you and talking about you during our time up there! You remain my inspiration!

        June 4, 2016 at 7:48 am

      • Thanks again Amy! That guy may have been one of the same ones that I’ve bumped into in previous years. There’s one that scopes the shorebirds every day, and another that chases warblers. I thought that I was too late in the year, the one you talked to may have been right, the late snows set the warblers back.

        I don’t think that where you are up there matters much, it’s all a matter of being there when the flocks move through.

        June 5, 2016 at 7:09 am

  4. I am glad that you find yourself in good condition. Your landscapes and flowers were very enjoyable today and if you hadn’t thrown in some top woodpecker shots, I would have said that I preferred them to the birds. As it was, I thought it was a tie.

    June 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! It was that kind of week, with everything in fine form to be photographed. I’ll settle for a tie. 😉

      June 3, 2016 at 11:59 pm

  5. I’m glad to hear that you had such a great time and glad your legs are doing so much better. I hope it continues still.
    That’s definitely a yellow violet but I don’t know which one. There are an awful lot of different violets!
    I like your white trilliums. I’ll never forget the shots you took of the thousands of them in the park that year. It was a beautiful sight.
    That’s a nice shot of the marsh marigolds. It’s a plant I’ve never seen in person.
    I like that shot of the sap sucker too. I just found out that the little buggers have been after the apple trees where I work. There’s no mistaking the hole patterns they leave behind.
    All in all I’d say you had a great vacation. I haven’t taken a real vacation in so long I’m surprised I remember what the word means, but you’re making me want one.

    June 3, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I hope that you get a chance to take a vacation soon, they’re wonderful!

      I should have gone back and photographed all the trillium this year, but I never got around to it. Since I did the post that you remember, I’ve found other places where there are just as many trillium, but spread out just a bit more.

      I don’t think that the holes left behind by the sapsuckers damage the trees too much, but any wound to a tree’s bark does open it up for diseases, as you well know. I see plenty of older trees with the scars from sapsuckers that were made years ago, and the trees are otherwise healthy.

      June 4, 2016 at 12:36 am

  6. I am glad you did not enforce your limit on photos. All of these are excellent, especially the birds. I didn’t know Blue Jays migrate either, mainly because they seem to be around us all year long. For the landscape shots, what you needed was more clouds, and perhaps waiting for sunset would have given you that and more colors. But photographers can’t control how skies look, sigh…

    June 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    • Thank you very much! That’s the problem when trying to photograph everything at the same time. The best times for birding seldom produce good landscape photos, and we can never control the weather. More clouds may have produced better landscape photos, but it was such a wonderful day, that I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.

      June 4, 2016 at 12:02 am

  7. Another great day for you, eh?

    My fave photo by far was the flikker emergimg from the tree. Color, lighting, and the subject matter all merged to the perfect trifecta. My second favorite was the View from South Point photo. For whatever reason, this hit all the go! buttons for me.

    Love all your woodpecker shots – along with owls, they are the birds that fascinate me the most. We watched an ivory billed woodpecker attack a tree on our trip. I was amazed to see that he was hitting the tree square on with his bill from a distance of about six inches, repeatedly. Hard to imagine taking such a pounding hour after hour, day after day.

    Your photos have convinced me that I need to camp on the Sunrise Side of the state sometime. Thanks for the education.

    June 3, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Judy! That view from South Point is something, isn’t it? I popped out of the woods and saw it, and knew that I had to shoot it. I walked over to the picnic table at the campsite to set my stuff down so that I could walk around with the landscape set-up to find the best view, it was right there at the picnic table, what a place to camp with a view like that!

      I don’t know what the “Sunrise Coast” looks like south of Harrisville, but I can tell you that from there north, it is beautiful. Camping is limited to just a few state parks other than Ossineke State Forest Campground, but it’s worth the trip to to see how the other half of Michigan looks.

      BTW, woodpeckers have a spongey layer that surrounds their brain so that they don’t suffer brain injuries while pecking away at the trees.

      June 4, 2016 at 12:11 am

  8. I love the squirrel photo. I have seen them do that, snacking on tree blooms. Another beautiful set of photos from your adventures, Jerry. A splendid vacation, time well spent!

    June 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! This rates as one of the best vacations that I’ve ever had.

      June 5, 2016 at 7:05 am

  9. Oh my goodness what splendid photos of a wonderful day. Love the squirrel out on a branch, the eastern Phoebe ( what a lovely name) sitting amidst some ‘artistic’ twigs, the miniscape, the flicker head poking out, the Trillium ( I’ve got some in my garden), the view from S Point, catkin, Wilson’s warbler and to top it all a mirage. News too that you are feeling in good shape- a great end to a perfect day.

    June 6, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    • Thank you very much! This vacation will go done in the books as one of my best ever. I wasn’t able to get any great photos, but plenty of very good ones, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and it came at a great time for me.

      June 7, 2016 at 8:59 am

  10. I missed commenting on your last post on your third day of vacation, Jerry, sorry I’m behind! It and this post caused continuous “wows” to come from my mouth. What lovely work you’ve accomplished! You’ve gotta be quite pleased with so many awesome captures and variety. And you say there’s more on the next post, going there now! 🙂

    June 13, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna! It was an excellent week by any standards you can think of, it was like a slice of heaven to me.

      June 14, 2016 at 12:06 am