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

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

I’m beginning this post on Thanksgiving Day, using my little Macbook pro for now. The weather today is about the same as it has been all week, grey, cold, gloomy, with light fog and drizzle. Hardly a good day for photography, unless I was shooting landscapes, which seems a little pointless right now.

Maybe it was the rapid change in the weather, but I’m feeling a little under it today, and I didn’t want to carry very much with me while I went for a walk around home. I shot 4 photos total, 2 versions each of these two images.

Yellow

Yellow

 

Red

Red

I suppose that I could have driven around somewhere to find a few landscapes worth shooting, but this little Macbook leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to editing photos in Lightroom, plus, I don’t have Photomatix installed on it to make truly good landscape photos.

I didn’t really feel like driving anyway, I did have the day off from work, for what it’s worth. I slept in an hour or two longer than usual, and after drinking some coffee, catching up on things on the Internet, and cleaning my apartment, I went back to bed and slept a couple of hours more until it got light outside. Then I went for the walk, which even though I didn’t see many things to photograph, was a very pleasant one despite the gloomy weather.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not, I needed a day to relax and not do very much when I’m usually so pressed for time. It’s been so long since I had a lazy day, that I’ve forgotten how to have one. 😉

I did miss the large screen of the 27 inch iMac when I did what little editing to the photos from today that I posted so far, but I’m looking at this situation as a blessing in disguise. The way things are going, I’ll be able to get this Macbook pro and the version of Lightroom that I have installed on it set-up the way that I want. That way, when I do go on trips, I won’t be fooling around with those details at that time. I may not be able to do any major editing, but I can sort through the photos and delete the poor ones, and flag the best of the rest of the photos for further editing on the iMac when I’m back home. I had forgotten how much I had customized Lightroom with presets. Not only that, I’ve forgotten how to make the presets that I’ve been using on the iMac.

As bad as things are with my large iMac down, things could have been much worse. At least I have all of my photos saved, on not one but two external drives, and I did have Apple’s Time Machine set-up to back up the computer full-time. Hopefully, when I do get the iMac back, it will be as if nothing had happened.

Anyway, I did a short day at work on Saturday, and despite the clouds and occasional drizzle, I went for a walk. I didn’t shoot many photos, due to the weather, and I’m not sure how good these that I did save really are.

Goldenrod gall

Goldenrod gall

I was playing, learning just how much depth of field that I have with the new 100-400 mm lens for that photo.

For this one, I was going to try to catch the blue jay in flight, but it went the wrong way when it did take off.

Blue jay on sumac

Blue jay on sumac

I’m still working on my very low-light settings also.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

With millions of leaves on the ground, why this one caught my eye, I don’t know, but it did.

Sycamore leaf

Sycamore leaf

Another close-up of a goldenrod gall as another test.

Goldenrod gall

Goldenrod gall

I actually had fair light for this next one, but in the wrong direction. As soon as I moved to get a better view of the squirrel, it took off.

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

My only other bird photos were of a flock of goldfinches feeding on teasel seeds, but too far away for a good photo of any of them.

American goldfinch eating teasel seeds

American goldfinch eating teasel seeds

The weatherman says that we may see some sun on Sunday for the first time in a week, I sure hope so.

The weatherman was wrong for the most part. There were a few holes in the clouds as I arrived at the wastewater facility just before dawn, but they soon closed up for most of the day. There were a few more holes in the clouds around 2 PM, and I did see a few patches of blue sky, but most of the day was just as dreary as the past week has been.

So, between my having to edit these on my little Macbook, and the lack of light, I’m not sure how good the photos that I shot are. I know that this one is horrible, but it’s of a Cooper’s hawk pretending to be the peregrine falcon that been hanging around the wastewater facility the past few weeks.

Cooper's hawk

Cooper’s hawk

I thought that it was the falcon until I got home and edited that image. That’s when I saw the banded tail and knew it was a Cooper’s hawk.

Later, I tracked down the peregrine falcon, it was perched on the exhaust of the grain drying equipment, probably to stay warm on a chilly day.

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Despite the low-light, I shot a photo of both an eared grebe…

Eared grebe

Eared grebe

…and a horned grebe…

Horned grebe

Horned grebe

…just because I hadn’t photographed either species recently. Too bad both of them are in their winter plumage, they’re very striking birds in the spring.

I didn’t see any swans on this day, but I did see the same 4 snow geese that hide out in the middle of thousands of Canada geese. First, early in the morning while they were still in the lagoon…

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

…that’s the wide version not cropped, here the snow geese are in a cropped photo.

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

Later, after the geese had left the lagoon to feed in one of the farm fields, I saw the snow geese with the Canada geese again.

Snow and Canada geese

Snow and Canada geese

That’s just a small portion of the huge flock of Canada geese, and there were more arriving all the time.

More geese arriving to add to the flock

More geese arriving to add to the flock

I didn’t attempt to count the geese, but my guess would be somewhere around 5,000 of them, I’ve never seen a flock as large as that one before, not even at the wastewater facility.

It’s 4 AM on Monday morning as I’m typing this section of the post, it’s 38 degrees (3 C) outside, with a line of heavy rain just arriving into the area. You’ll have to forgive me, but it looks as though I’ll be staying indoors today. I wouldn’t mind a light rain or drizzle, but I see no reason to go out and get soaked to the bone on a day like today. That means more bad photos from yesterday though, as they’re all that I have available to me until I get my iMac back.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer

I also saw one of the adult bald eagles…

Bald eagle

Bald eagle

…but it refused to pose for me, so that was the best that I could do.

I worked on my settings for birds in flight in low-light…

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

 

Mallards in flight

Mallards in flight

…not too bad, but I think that I can still do a little better.

I finally gave up at the wastewater facility, and drove over to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, hoping to find a few small birds that I could get close to. I had limited success at that, I think that Brian’s bird banding this fall has made the birds more wary of humans than normal. The poor light didn’t help either, these are the best I could do, no matter how hard I tried.

American tree sparrow

American tree sparrow

 

Female house finch

Female house finch

 

Female house finch

Female house finch

Usually, when birds are actively feeding, I can eventually get a good photo of them, but it was tough going on this day. I added the 1.4 X tele-converter behind the 100-400 mm lens for this next batch, I’m undecided if that was a mistake or not.

Female house finch

Female house finch

 

Male house finch

Male house finch

 

Black-capped chickadee

Black-capped chickadee

 

Male house finch

Male house finch

The tele-converter meant that I had to crop these images less, but I was having trouble getting sharp photos while using it. It could have been because of the light, those were shot during the time I mentioned earlier, when a few holes opened up in the clouds. Rather than making things easier, it became more difficult, as what little sunshine that there was only brightened the clouds behind the birds more than the birds themselves. The overpowering light coming off from the bright clouds made it extremely difficult to get the exposure correct.

Anyway, rather than harp on the poor light any longer, here’s two photos from the MLNP that aren’t of birds.

Buttonbush seeds

Buttonbush seeds

 

Oriental bittersweet berries?

Oriental bittersweet berries?

My next stop was the Muskegon Lake channel to Lake Michigan, I hoped to find a few diving ducks there. Instead, all I found was a lone male mallard.

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

 

Male mallard preening

Male mallard preening

I used the 1.4 X extender for those also, just to get better at using it behind the 100-400 mm lens. As with everything, there’s a learning curve that comes with it, and I haven’t used that combination very much so far. I also shot this with it.

Yellow in a sea of brown

Yellow in a sea of brown

It was a boring day as far as photography, other than having to work extra hard to get bad photos, and most of you know what I do on boring days, shoot gulls.

Herring gull taking flight

Ring-billed gull taking flight

One day, all the practice photos that I shoot of gulls will pay-off.

Herring gull in flight

Herring gull in flight

I love the fact that now I can get the eye of a flying bird as sharp as the eyes of perched birds in my photos were just a year or two ago. And, when a bird is perched and conditions are right…

Herring gull

Herring gull

…I can get images like that last one. Maybe I should give up on everything else and shoot photos of nothing but mallards and gulls. 😉 Of course I’m just kidding, but by the time that winter sets in for real, that may be about all that I find to photograph for a while.

That’s why I started posting to the My Photo Life List project again, but until I get my iMac back, I can’t do any of those posts. All the images that I have sorted by species left to post are stored on that computer. I suppose that I could plug the external drive that my photos are stored on into my Macbook, but then, I’d have to sort through thousands of photos to find the images that I need for those posts.

If I needed any more bad news, the weather forecast for the next week is just as bad as it has been lately, cloudy with rain everyday for the foreseeable future.

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

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33 responses

  1. Love the bluejay with the sumac. The dark red is such a surprising addition to the photo.

    Hope your computer problems get resolved without too much aggravation. I just got a new Google pixel tablet this week, and am loving it. Last fall about this time, I bought a new Lenovo Windows 10 laptop, and I absolutely hate it. For the last couple of years, I’ve used a tablet for everything, except the blog. Am considering trying to do the blog on the tablet this year because I dislike the laptop so much. Just don’t know if I can manage all the typing without having a real keyboard.

    After all of our bonus November weather, it sure feels like it’s been gray forever doesn’t it? This is the kind of blah weather that chases people to Arizona.

    November 28, 2016 at 8:57 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I was surprised how well the blue jay photo turned out, glad that you liked it.

      I’m sure that my main computer will be okay soon. I like the Macbook pro, but it took some getting used to after using the big iMac all the time.

      Can’t you get a wifi, wireless, or bluetooth keyboard for your tablet? I’ve heard good things about both the Google Pixel tablets and the Lenovo Laptops, I’m surprised that you don’t like the laptop. Is it the computer or Windows 10 that you hate?

      One thing for sure, this weather isn’t for the birds, at least photographing them that is. ;(

      November 28, 2016 at 11:56 am

  2. first of all thanks for sharing those incredible photos with us, your Readers. I love the “red” – this is Autumn for me. And now I run out of words to comment on the rest of your many photos – so please allow me to type a short version of my feelings for your work “BRILLIANT” I know what it is like to be out and about in all weathers to shoot the right pictures. Carina

    November 28, 2016 at 9:19 am

    • Thank you very much Carina! I know that there’ll be spells of bad weather, and bad weather usually means poor photos, but it was if some one threw a switch this year, and we went from great to terrible weather in just a few hours, and it’s stayed terrible since then.

      The photos in this post are good considering the weather, but they’re a far cry from what I was getting two weeks ago.

      November 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm

  3. Peggy Westbrook

    I love your pics no matter the circumstances, you got out there and did it and shared them with us. You make me feel like going out and doing it for myself is worth the effort no matter how I feel. I’m from Grant in Newago county and have lived on Partridge Point (Squaw Bay) since 1994. I do all kinds of artistic/spiritual things to help myself heal from the poo life hurls at me. I say when life hands you manure use it for compost. I’ve been struggling and am glad I found your blog. Thanks from the bottom of my heart and soul. Hope you are well. Peggy
    .

    November 28, 2016 at 9:38 am

    • Thank you very much Peggy! I’m glad that my photos made your life even a little better. For the past three years, I’ve camped in the Ossineke State Forest Campground, not far from Partridge Point, for a week in May each year. I love it up there, and I wish that I could spend more time in that area. My favorite places are the Besser-Bell Natural area, the campground itself, and the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary (At least that’s the name I remember), I hope that despite your struggles, you’re able to spend some time in these places.

      November 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      • plwestbrook

        My new favorite place is the Alpena township nature preserve out past the cement plant. My most favorite is Negwegon state park. Thanks for your kind reply it made my day better.

        December 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      • Thanks again Peggy! I also love both of the places that you mentioned. Because it’s such a long drive for me to get there, I only visit the area while on a vacation. I wish that I lived closer, you’re so lucky in many ways.

        December 4, 2016 at 4:16 am

  4. Many beautiful photos but those with geese are my favorite.

    November 28, 2016 at 11:15 am

    • Thank you very much Cornell! I’d love to get closer to the snow geese, but they know where the safest place to be is, in the middle of all the other geese. Both the white and blue morphs of the snow geese are stunning in their beauty.

      The leaf was a bonus, I looked down between the rocks that make up the breakwater at Muskegon, and there that leaf was, almost glowing in the dark.

      November 28, 2016 at 12:04 pm

  5. Excellent pictures of the Mallard and thanks for the squirrels!

    November 28, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I had to put the squirrels in there for you, I’ve been forgetting lately.

      November 28, 2016 at 12:25 pm

  6. A great start to the post with those lovely primary colour photos …then no blue.. until the next photo of that stunning blue jay..made me happy!
    The yellow leaf photo would be an excellent Valentine card!
    My favourites are those sequence photos of the mallard keeping himself smart and clean! Is bird watching a favoured pastime in your locality as there are some amazing birds around as shown in all your brilliant photos?

    November 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I wasn’t thinking along the lines of primary colors, it was just happenstance that it worked out that way. I should have titled the photo of the single yellow leaf “Heart of gold” but didn’t think of it in time.

      As a matter of fact, bird watching is very popular here in the US, especially Michigan. It ranks in the top five of all outdoor activities, I have forgotten its exact place in the list. There are a number of stores that cater to those people who feed birds in their backyard also.

      November 28, 2016 at 12:31 pm

  7. I loved seeing the snow geese – such beautiful birds! The mallard shots are fantastic too. I’m sorry the weather is gong to be so dull and dreary from now on. You seem to be able to get excellent shots no matter what the weather!

    November 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I love snow geese too, I just wish that I could get closer to them, but they know where they’re safe as the photos show.

      The weather is what it is, but it was so nice here earlier this fall that the abrupt change to typical weather is hard to take.

      November 28, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      • I know what you mean! We had such a warm and sunny September and October that the cold and rain have been really unwelcome.

        November 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm

  8. I may have remarked before that I would be more than happy to take pictures as good as your ‘bad’ ones so don’t get too down on yourself.

    November 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I won’t get down on myself this year, I’ve realized that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There will be good light again sooner than it seems, until then, I’ll do the best I can.

      November 28, 2016 at 11:41 pm

  9. We’ve had cloudy skies and / or rain here since the day before Thanksgiving, but I had to take what nature gave me or skip some blog posts. Now they say rain for the rest of the week so as usual your weather is our weather.
    I don’t think your photos turned out bad at all. Some of them like the blue jay, mallard and squirrels really pop.
    I’ve never seen so many geese either. That’s amazing!
    Yes, that’s Oriental bittersweet. If you look around that area you’ll probably find some trees being strangled by it.
    Interesting that so many of your birds eat sumac berries. They rarely touch them here until winter and spring. I see seed heads full of berries all winter long.

    November 28, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! They say that it’s going to rain here for at least part of each of the next 8 days, at least it isn’t snow, yet. 😉

      I’ll keep on plugging away until the light gets better next spring, it won’t be that long until it happens. I will get an occasional good photo until then.

      The number of geese that you can see in my photos is just a small portion of the flock. I sat there trying different lenses to show the overall flock, but if I went wide enough, then the geese looked like dark lumps in the field, not geese.

      I thought that it was oriental bittersweet, but wasn’t sure. There may not be as much of it next year, between banding birds, Brian Johnson has been cutting the vines off close to the ground, starting with the ones that were strangling the trees.

      I haven’t figured out the sumac/bird relationship yet, I may not see a single bird eating it for weeks, then there will be a day when almost every species of bird will eat at least a little of it. It goes in cycles.

      November 28, 2016 at 11:53 pm

  10. I haven’t taken any bird picture for more than a month, and the ones you post here are so good they make me want to go out with the camera. But I am nursing a cold, so maybe this weekend.

    November 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! I hope that you are able to get out this weekend, although the weather reports don’t sound good for it.

      November 28, 2016 at 11:56 pm

  11. My favorite is the blue jay on sumac – love the contrast, and the buttonbush seeds – beautiful in its simplicity.

    November 28, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    • Thank you very much! I do luck out from time to time when I point my camera at things that interest me.

      November 28, 2016 at 11:57 pm

  12. The golden rod galls are stunningly beautiful. Who would think to photograph something so ordinary? I was wondering what those berries were…bittersweet?

    November 29, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    • Thank you very much Maria! I like the colors and the swirls in the goldenrod galls, besides, there not much else to photograph right now. Yes, the berries are oriental bittersweet, a vine that is very invasive, and can kill the trees that it grows on.

      November 29, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      • I loved the marbling on the golden rod. The bittersweet is beautiful though.

        November 29, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      • Jerry, I keep thinking of your wonderful photo of the bird dropping a seed. May I write a poem about it and post your photo with a link to your post?

        December 2, 2016 at 5:46 am

      • Thanks for thinking that the photo is worthy of one of your poems! Of course you may use that photo.

        December 2, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      • Thank you Jerry. I will let you know when I post it.

        December 2, 2016 at 1:32 pm

  13. So many beautiful images, Jerry. I really like the red squirrel portrait, although it is hard to pick a favorite.

    Cold weather is on the horizon here. Not a frost yet, and it is supposed to be dropping into the low 20s by Tuesday. Possible snow tomorrow. Nothing has hardened off yet. I still have blooming nasturtiums!

    December 4, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    • Thanks again Lavinia! I’d much rather live in an area as mild as it is where you live. We’re having a snowstorm today.

      December 4, 2016 at 4:29 pm