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…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
… as well as my traditional landscape photos.
I tried that scene two different ways, I’m not completely happy with either of them.
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.
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.
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…
…and this mid-spring flower.
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.
I also found a yellow-bellied sapsucker working on a nesting cavity.
There were also dozens of blue jays, more on them later as well as the woodpeckers, but here’s a preview.
The only warbler photo from my hike was this one.
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.
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…
…because these are much less common that the red-bellied…
…I’m posting three shots of him.
I arrived at the South Point campsite, and once I got past the view…
…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.
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.
I zoomed in a little for this next one, so that you can tell that they are 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.
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.
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…
…as long as he kept posing…
…I kept shooting.
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…
…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…
…and any time that I get a chance to photograph a brown thrasher out in the open…
…I’ll take it, if they are singing…
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…
…and butterflies than I had the last two springs. I finally caught one of these tiny blue butterflies with its wings open…
…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.
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.
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.
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…
…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…
…and even put up with circling it to get better light.
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…
…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.
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!