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

Winter arrives here in West Michigan

It will be difficult to top the photos from my last post, at least for a while. The long-range winter forecasts are not looking good for my efforts to get even better photos than I have been getting. The warm summer, and very mild fall have left the water temperatures of the Great Lakes well above average, which means that as the colder air from Canada makes its way across the lakes, we’ll be left with near constant lake effect clouds and snow until the lakes cool off.

On Friday, we tied our record high temperature record of 70F (21 C) with bright sunny skies. On Saturday, the temperature hovered near freezing with snow and rain being driven by winds over 30 MPH (48 KPH). I did drive over to the Lake Michigan shore on Saturday after work, hoping to get some good photos of the waves crashing over various things there, but it was snowing so heavily that photos were next to impossible.

I did get the furniture from the spare bedroom in my apartment back in place since they finally got around to almost finishing everything required after the water leak in the spare bedroom. I haven’t moved my computer back into the spare bedroom yet, I may wait until next Saturday to do that.

Since I won’t be shooting as many photos over the winter months, I have begun posting to the My Photo Life List series once again, as many of you may have noticed. I have photos of 30 species of birds to put into those posts that I’ve shot over the last two years. All of the species have appeared here in my blog when I first found them, but I haven’t gotten around to doing a dedicated post on those species yet. I’m very close to being 2/3 of the way through the list that I’m working from, maybe I’ll pick up enough of our winter resident only species to get me to the 2/3 mark this winter.

In theory, I should be able to get to the 300 species mark here in West Michigan, but that would be if I managed to find and photograph every species that has ever been reported here, and that isn’t likely to happen. My odds will be much better if I spend more time in the parts of Michigan where most of the remaining species that I need to complete the list are found in greater numbers, and for longer periods of time than they are found here, as many were just passing through this area when they were reported before.

That brings me to another point, I don’t want to spend the years that I have left to work before I retire buying more camera gear. I’d like to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors much sooner than when I retire, rather than working as much as I can to pay for more camera gear. So, I have made major revisions to the wish list that I have, and my plans for when I purchase what remains on that list. This revision was prompted in part by what I have learned the past few weeks, and because I was trying to decide what to buy for myself as a Christmas present.

I was going to start by upgrading my wide-angle lenses, however, I have decided that it wasn’t the wisest thing to do. Both of the wide-angle lenses on my wish list are brand new offerings by Canon and Sigma, meaning that I would be paying full price for them. By this time next year, I’ll bet that I can find both of those lenses on sale and save a few hundred dollars if I wait. Besides, why upgrade lenses for landscapes at a time when I’m not shooting many landscape photos?

Then, I thought that I should purchase the gimbal head for my tripod. As I was photographing the kingfisher from my last post, I tried holding the camera up until the kingfisher took flight to photograph it taking off, but I couldn’t hold the camera up that long. So, I reasoned that now would be a good time to purchase the gimbal head, so that I could keep the camera on the bird for as long as it sat in one place, and get photos of it taking off too. But, winter is setting in, and I know that I’m not going to stand around freezing to get an image that I could just as easily get during the warmer months and remain comfortable while I do.

So, going down my wish list, I took a good, long, hard look at what I had put on it, and what I really need versus what I’d like to have, all in the context of my recent photos, and comparing them to others that I have seen by other photographers. I also took into account my own abilities as well.

From using the 100-400 mm lens with the 2 X tele-converter, I know that 800 mm of focal length is about all that I can manage while holding the lens in my hands. Yes, I could go longer if I used my tripod, but that isn’t always possible for me the way that I go about getting the photos that I do. Also, it’s much better to get closer and use a shorter length lens than it is to stay back and use a longer lens. If I can get good head and shoulder photos of birds with the camera gear that I have now…

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

…then, there’s really no reason for me to spend the rest of my life working to pay for an even longer lens. I shot that photo a few weeks ago, not long after I had begun using the 100-400 mm lens, my images have improved since then.

I almost hate going back through the photos that I have saved from over the summer and posting them now, but with the weather as bad as it’s been so far this weekend, I have little choice.

Damselfly

Damselfly

Besides, I’m already missing seeing these things…

Orange hawkweed?

Orange hawkweed?

…and I won’t see them again until next spring.

I did go to the Muskegon County wastewater facility yesterday to look for birds in the snow.

Drastic weather change

Drastic weather change

The biggest surprise was hundreds of swans! These are part of a larger flock in the west lagoon…

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans

…these are a small flock from the east lagoon…

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans

…I was hoping to make a positive ID with a close-up…

Tundra or trumpeter swan

Tundra or trumpeter swan

…but I still can’t say for sure which species they were, there could have been both species, as this is part of a larger flock also in the east lagoon.

Tundra or trumpeter swans

Tundra or trumpeter swans with a few geese and other waterfowl

The swans were probably forced to land due to the storm that blew through here on Saturday, I’ve never seen so many of them in one place before, no matter which species they were.

Since the light was horrible all day, I spent some time working on my low-light bird in flight settings.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

Gulls almost always are obliging subjects to practice on.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

But, I wish that the light had been better for this one.

Ring-billed gull in flight

Ring-billed gull in flight

Great timing on my part, but the lack of light meant that it was all for nothing.

Suppose that the same thing applies to this next series as well. I spotted a young bald eagle hunting.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

It was using the wind to provide lift as it looked for possible prey below it.

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

Juvenile bald eagle in flight

I’ve seen crows mob hawks, and there’s nothing that they go after as hard as an owl, but I seldom see them bother eagles.

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

Of course on a day when there was poor light…

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

…I see the crows doing just that, mobbing an eagle, even catching a ride on the eagle’s back now and then.

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

American crows attacking a juvenile bald eagle

There were times when I thought that the crows were teasing the eagle.

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

I kept the eagle in the viewfinder, and the auto-focus tracking it, and whenever I saw a crow enter the frame, I’d fire off a short burst.

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

If only it had been a sunny day!

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

 

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

American crows mobbing a juvenile bald eagle

I know, too many photos of the eagle and crows, but it isn’t often that I’m close enough to such action to get even the poor photos that I did.

News flash!

My 27 inch iMac will no longer boot up. That means that for the time being, I have no access to my photos, which is no big deal, since I didn’t shoot a single good photo this entire weekend. All of the actual photos are stored on one external drive, and backed up on another external drive, so they are safe. I’ve also been using Apple’s Time Machine to back up the iMac to one of the external drives as well.

I’ve spoken to some one at a computer repair establishment, and they believe that once they have fixed the reason that the computer won’t boot up, that they’ll be able to restore everything from the Time Machine back-ups, including my Lightroom catalog, so that it will be as if the crash never happened, even if it is the computer’s hard drive that failed. I sure hope so. Otherwise, I’d have the RAW images, but none of the editing that I’ve done to them.

At this point, I’m sure glad that I went a little overboard in not only backing up in the first place, but in having a redundant back-up as well. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to lose all my photos. I could plug the external drives into the Macbook pro and work in Lightroom on it, but with this small screen, it just wouldn’t be the same.

For the time being, I’m using my little Macbook pro, and I haven’t used it very much up to this point. You could say that I’m getting a crash course in using it, as well as getting it set-up the way that I want. It’s also taking me some time to recover all of my Internet links, passwords, and those sorts of things, so I’m very busy. I haven’t had a lot of spare time to read or comment on other people’s blog the way that I should, but please, bear with me as I work things out on my end.

I am thinking that when this is all over, and my iMac is up and running again, that I should look into one of the cloud based back-ups available. Not for all of my photos, but for my Lightroom catalog and the other important files and settings of my computer. It would take too long and be too expensive to back-up my photos to the cloud, two hard drives work well enough for that.

I hope that my iMac is back up and running sometime next week, with Thanksgiving occurring this week, the computer repair place will be closed both Thursday and Friday.

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

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22 responses

  1. Sorry about your computer problems and hope they are resolved satisfactorily soon. That photo of the gull taking a fish out of the water was amazing, I am so glad that I look at your blog.

    November 23, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! One day I hope to catch something like the gull in good light for a change, rather than on one of the dreariest days of the year.

      November 23, 2016 at 4:22 pm

  2. That’s too bad about the computer. I hope they can fix it without it costing too much. You’ve reminded me that it’s time I do another backup!
    Those are orange hawkweed blossoms and I wish I could see them outside. It’s been cold here too and we got about as much snow as you did, but most of it has melted. The worst part of the past week was the wind. We’ve seen 50 mph gusts.
    I like the gull portrait and I think with the eagle and the crows it’s the story more than the photos that makes it so interesting. Most people just never see that sort of thing. I saw it happen with a crow and a hawk and it was a fascinating thing to watch. If only I’d had a camera!
    I don’t like winter and I don’t like snow, but I like that shot of the snowy dirt road. There’s a lot of beauty to be seen this time of year, and I hope you’ll see lots of it!
    Have a good Thanksgiving!

    November 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! If I had the tools and test equipment, I could have fixed the computer myself, but those things would cost more than letting some one else do it. If it’s the hard drive that failed, the cost should be just a couple hundred dollars total, more than I’d like, but manageable.

      The change to winter couldn’t have been more sharp than this year, wearing a T shirt in warm sun one day, cold, windy, and grey the next, with the snow falling. I miss the flowers and insects already.

      I do see things that many people never get the chance to see in person, like the crows mobbing the eagle, but just once, I’d like it to happen on a day when there’s good light for photos. Then, I’d really be able to tell the interesting story much better.

      The older that I get, the less I like winter and snow, but that’s life.

      A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well!

      November 24, 2016 at 2:56 am

  3. I am very impressed by your backing up skills. I like your reasoning at the top of the post. It makes a good deal of sense to me. That certainly looks like orange hawkweed to me.

    November 23, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! The external drives weren’t without cost, but right now, they look invaluable to me. No matter what else happens, I still have all of my photos saved. The same goes for taking a few minutes to set-up the backup program that comes on Apple computers, it should end up as if nothing had happened.

      November 24, 2016 at 3:00 am

  4. I hope you get your computer working again soon. I really liked the gull shots especially the last one. Great sequence of shots of the eagle and crows and good to see the swans too. The snowy track shot is very atmospheric.

    November 23, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare. The computer problem should be resolved next week, and I’ll be back to shooting bad photos for the rest of this winter. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ve had zero percent of possible sunshine since the weather pattern changed last week, and the forecast is for it to stay that way for as far as the forecast goes out. It’s West Michigan in the winter.

      November 24, 2016 at 3:03 am

      • Bad photos indeed! Haha! ๐Ÿ™‚ We have had similar weather to yours in the past few days with NE winds off the North Sea. If it were colder we’d have snow but as it is we just have cloud and rain.

        November 24, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      • It doesn’t matter very much which way our wind is from, other than the south. Being a peninsula, the wind almost always causes clouds here.

        November 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      • You can’t win! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        November 24, 2016 at 3:36 pm

  5. Hi Jerry. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you have the day off, and some fun plans for the day.

    I really enjoyed the crow/eagle series. Probably kind of a dumb question, but do these attacks result in injury or death? Or are the crows just trying to aggravate the eagle? Who usually gives up first? So much I don’t know…..

    I would LOVE to see that many swans at one time. Against a bright blue sky, which you unfortunately didn’t have, it would be spectacular.

    Have a great day.

    November 24, 2016 at 9:08 am

    • Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving to you Judy! I had the day off, but with the weather as it is, I did a quick walk around home for exercise.

      I’ve never seen it happen, but I’ve heard that owls will sometimes kill a crow that gets too close while the crows are mobbing the owl.

      This behavior by crows all stems from the fact that they dislike birds that may prey on them, obviously. Their goal is to drive the predator out of the area that they want to use at the time. As to who gives up first, it depends. I’ve seen owls that were deep in the trees outlast the crows, and eagles ignore the crows until they gave up. Most of the time, the predator flies away, looking for a better place to hunt.

      Yes, seeing two flocks of swans, each with over 100 birds in it was special. I did take a few shots of the smaller flocks coming in to join the main flocks, but as cloudy as it was, those photos weren’t very good. Maybe you can arrange bright blue skies for me the next time I see that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      November 24, 2016 at 11:12 am

      • I’ll work on the blue sky thing. After a couple of days of gloom, we deserve it.

        November 25, 2016 at 9:15 am

  6. Best wishes on your Thanksgiving Day- it’s been on our news too! I’m sorry that you’ve had problems with your computer- it just shows how much we rely on them and it’s reminded me to learn how to back up everything!! I love the joust in the sky and the fishing gull photos but my favourite is the snowy lane such atmospheric colours- I know you like ‘light’ but those muted tones are special.

    November 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! Yes, we do depend on computers, probably too much. But with digital photography, one doesn’t have much choice to to store the images on a computer.

      I did like the snowy lane, which is why I shot that image.

      November 24, 2016 at 3:36 pm

  7. WOW Jerry, I leave for a few months and you get all professional on me LOL. Great new lens and pics! Happy Thanksgiving!

    November 24, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    • Thanks, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you Sheila! This was one of my worst recent posts when it comes to image quality, as there was no light to work with at all. You’re being too kind.

      November 24, 2016 at 11:56 pm

  8. Sorry to hear about the computer problems. I’ve got a few I’m working on myself at the moment.

    The photos are beautiful to me, as always. That is some series of the crows mobbing the young eagle! Hope you can retire soon, and enjoy your equipment and continue work on your bird list.

    We haven’t had a frost here yet, and it is already past Thanksgiving. Makes me wonder what December has in store for us here in our part of western Oregon. Sometimes we get hammered with temperatures down in the low 20s in December.

    November 27, 2016 at 12:23 am

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! I hope that your computer problems aren’t too bad.

      There’s no way I can retire as soon as I’d like, which is yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, I’ll keep plugging away the way that I have been for the time being.

      They’re predicting a cold and snowy winter for us in Michigan, that usually means that the west coast has a mild winter.

      November 27, 2016 at 2:33 am

  9. You have captured the beauty of nature which this state has to offer. Often people take for granted just how precious nature can be and pass by it. If you could be so kind as to check out my blog and tell me what you think.

    December 6, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    • Thank you very much! I will take a gander at your blog.

      December 7, 2016 at 12:18 am