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

These are leftovers?

I have more photos leftover from my last two days off from work than will fit in just one more post, so I’ll have to whittle them down some as I go.

Red-eyed vireo

I’m not sure why I chose that photo as the first for this post or why I like it as much as I do. The pose is good, the foreground is clean, but the background is just okay. I wasn’t even very close to the bird, I have some much better close-ups of other species coming up in this post, but I really like that image.

I was much closer to one of the red-eyed vireo’s cousins, a warbling vireo…

Warbling vireo

…close enough so that you can see the warbler’s intended meal escaping by flying behind the warbler.

Warbling vireo

Warbling vireos may look rather plain, but they are cheery little birds that make spring a great time to be outside just to hear them singing, and fortunately, they sing often.

What could be better than hearing them sing overhead as one can smell lilacs and photograph bees covered in pollen…

Unidentified bee covered with pollen

…all at the same time?

I know that I should avoid writing about the camera gear that I have, and that I’d still like to have, and even how I get some of the photos that I do. However, every time that I decide to photograph something, I have to decide which camera/lens combination will produce the image that I have in mind, along with the settings used for both the camera and lens. The bee above is an example of that, I was going for wider shots of the lilac flowers when the bee landed on the flowers I was shooting. The 100 mm macro lens has a switch that limits the focusing range of the lens to speed up its ability to auto-focus, and to make it more accurate as well. Since I had the switch set to shoot wider shots, I couldn’t get as close to the bee as I wanted. By the time I shot a couple of photos, them flipped the range limiting switch, the bee was gone. I’m going to have to live with the fact that things like that are going to happen from time to time, as I did get the image of the lilac flowers that I was after, and it appeared in the last post, even if the shot of the bee in this post isn’t what I would have liked to have gotten.

That’s really true this time of year, there are so many things to photograph in early spring that won’t be seen again until next spring. Even if I were retired and spent every waking moment when there was enough light for photography, I could never shoot every thing that I would like to this time of year. As it was, my days began just before sunrise…

Early morning whitetail deer

…I became more serious as the sun broke over the horizon…

Mute swan at sunrise

…although I never got the image of the swan that I wanted…

Another morning mallard

…and I kept shooting until late afternoon.

Eastern swallowtail butterfly on lilac flowers


Eastern swallowtail butterfly on lilac flowers

Can you tell that I spent a lot of time near the lilac flowers?


I like the way that the flowers seem to jump out of the greenery in that photo.

News flash!

I have been out with my camera since I began this post, and while it was a slow day as far as photos overall, I did manage to get a few photos of one of my nemesis species of birds, a yellow-billed cuckoo.

Yellow-billed cuckoo

I’ve seen this species before, but I was never quick enough to get a photo of one in the past, and barely got this photo before the cuckoo went back to hiding in the thicker vegetation. It may not be a very good image, but there’s no mistaking the species of bird, which is my requirement for the My Photo Life List project that I’m working on. Hopefully as has happened in the past, now that I’ve broken the ice by getting one image of a species, better ones will follow soon.

Actually, I’ve had a pretty good spring this year, adding several new species to my list, although to this point, I haven’t seen any of the species that I targeted in an earlier post. That’s okay, as long as I’m still making progress, I’m not that worried about whether or not I get the species that I targeted.

Now then, back to the leftovers from last week.

This green heron was calling…

Green heron calling

…to another green heron on the other side of a marsh…

Green heron calling

…I don’t know if the two were a mated pair or rivals for the territory, but both the herons kept calling back and forth quite often. I did eventually track down the other one, but it was too far away for a photo of it.

Now then, in my last post I showed male, female, and first year male Baltimore orioles, in this post, I have a male American redstart…

Male American redstart

…a female of the same species…

Female American redstart

…and a first year male American redstart…

First year male American redstart

…to show the variations between them. By the way, this is another species of bird that sings often.

Male American redstart singing

Isn’t spring a wonderful time of the year to be alive and outside where you can hear the birds singing and smell the flowers in bloom at the same time?

Apple flowers


Unidentified flowers

The past two weeks I’ve gotten close to a muskrat while it was eating, I wanted to shoot a video of this one as it peeled a cattail apart to get to the starchy center of the base of the cattail.

Muskrat eating a cattail

But, that was shot at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve which is always a noisy place because it’s right next to a main highway, and on this day, it was even noisier because several bus loads of school kids were there to learn about nature. The same applies to this photo from the previous week.

Muskrat eating a cattail

I think that since the peak of the spring migration is over, that it’s time for me to begin scouting other places to go. Places that are quieter, so that I can shoot videos without traffic noise, the noise from machinery as at the wastewater facility, or hoards of screaming school kids at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

I’m not sure that I’ll find a place as good as the places that I go to regularly now, but I know that I can find places that are quieter, even if the wildlife isn’t as abundant in these other places. As I speculated before, I think that the places that I’ve been drawn to the most the past several years have so much wildlife in so small of an area precisely because they are a tiny oasis almost hidden within human activities and development. I sort of tested that theory this past week, I hiked part of the Snug Harbor trail within Muskegon State Park. There were birds singing scattered about as I walked along, but most were well out of camera range. The few times that I left the trail in an attempt to find the birds, they simply moved to another location and began singing again.

I found most of the birds that I did shoot photos of…

Common yellowthroat singing


Chipping sparrow singing

…at the edges between the large stands of woods in the park where they met with the parts of the park geared towards human activities. Of course, edges are always good places to look for wildlife to begin with, even if the edges are between two different types of habitat. Edges between human development and habitat suitable for wildlife seem to be particularly good places to find wildlife. Something that I need to keep in mind when I do begin scouting.

In the meantime, I have a few close-ups of birds that I shot at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve last week that I need to post.

Male northern cardinal


Blue jay


Male red-winged blackbird

I love it when I get so close to birds that I don’t have to crop the images at all as I did with these last three images. But, that comes from knowing every nook and cranny of the MLNP and where I’ll be able to sneak up on a bird, or sit and let it come to me. Having visited the MLNP as often as I have, I do know it like the back of my hand, which makes it easier to get good photos there, and that’s one reason that it will be hard for me to begin going to other places, it will take me a while to learn those other places as well as I know the places that I’ve been going to. Oh well, I guess that will be part of the learning experience. That’s also okay, as I still have quite a few photos left from this spring, so if I do have a bad outing or two as I look for other places to go, I still have photos to post, like this one.

Female red-winged blackbird

I’m only going to have one day off from work this week, I volunteered to work on one of my regular days off to help out my employer, and to earn a little extra money. The weather forecasted called for rain on the day that I’ll be working, so it seemed like a wise choice to work, but the forecast changed, and now it’s for another great day, darn.

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


19 responses

  1. Jerry, your leftovers are a royal feast for people like myself! I thoroughly enjoyed these images of birds and flowers. The colors and lighting are superb, and some of the subjects are unique, like that Yellow-billed Cuckoo.


    May 29, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! I was very lucky to have two days in a row with excellent light for photography. I was able to get the yellow-billed cuckoo because of my very good eyesight, and paying attention to color patterns. I thought at first that the cuckoo was just another catbird or similar species, until I saw the white breast as I watched it through the leaves. I took two steps to my right for a cleared view and fired away, getting just two or three in focus images of it.


      May 29, 2018 at 4:31 pm

  2. More spectacular images, Jerry! Awesome work!


    May 28, 2018 at 7:09 pm

  3. Don’t avoid talking about camera gear. 🙂
    I like very much the colors, especially the color of the sky.


    May 27, 2018 at 5:07 pm

  4. What a shame the forecast changed! I also love that first image – the symmetry and the appealing look of the bird. I liked all of the shots in this post and your joy of the season just shone through!


    May 26, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    • Thanks again Clare! I may have missed a day outside, but it’s turned so hot here that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time off as much as if the weather were more seasonable for this time of year. I may as well work and make extra money to help me feed my camera addiction. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      May 26, 2018 at 1:05 pm

  5. Hi Jerry. I’ve missed commenting on your last several posts, although I sure have enjoyed reading them.

    You may not have gotten the shot you wanted if the mute swan, but I thought the dark background and brilliant white feathers made a stunning composition. It’s a really beautiful photo.

    Your swallowtail on the lilac is an explosion of early season color. Gorgeous.

    I’ve suspended the last posting of my blog, and probably won’t recapture the last few weeks of our trip. It’s just too far in the past for me to recapture the moment. Maybe I’ll post a few photos just for my own recordbook, but it won’t be the same blow by blow reporting. Sometimes life gets complicated.


    May 26, 2018 at 10:51 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I wondered what happened to you, your blog ended somewhere between Texas and Michigan if I remember correctly. I figured that you had made it home and were busy unpacking and catching up on things around home. I know that if I go somewhere for a week that it takes me almost two full days to get back to normal around home, I can’t imagine what it would be like after months away.

      I wanted more of the golden sunshine on the water around but not on the swan, but I took what I could get.

      An explosion of color pretty much applies to spring overall after nothing but white, grey and brown all winter.


      May 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm

  6. What an amazing series of wonderful photos…they really are the best!


    May 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos.


      May 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

  7. You can never seem to count on those forecasts anymore!
    These shots are all excellent, but I think my favorite is the cardinal, because I never see them. I do hear them though, so at least I know they’re here.
    Greats shot of the deer and the swan. It obviously pays to get up early.
    Nice shots of the muskrat too. Every time I see one it’s swimming away.
    I think the unidentified flowers might be one of the cherries, judging by the leaves.
    I’m glad you’re finally getting a real taste of spring!


    May 25, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! I know that because you’re color blind that you can’t see the male cardinals because they’re red, but can you see the females which are more grey in color?

      When looking for any wildlife, dawn has always seemed like the best time of the day for me, especially for birds and deer. I’m not sure why the muskrat was out in the open like that during the middle of the day, they are usually more wary than that, but I liked getting good photos of one.

      I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the plants that flowers grow from, but there are times when I’m watching a bird that I see a flower that I just have to take a second or two to photograph before getting back to the bird, and so I forget to ID the flower at the time.

      We’ve gone straight from early spring to mid-summer, highs in the 90’s this week, and I think that I’d rather have the cold than the heat.

      Liked by 1 person

      May 26, 2018 at 12:53 pm

  8. Even by your high standards, this was an outstanding set of images. I too liked the first one and perhaps this was because the diagonal twig set the bird off attractively. The apple blossom was great as well. It is not easy to photograph well.


    May 25, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I agree with you about the degree of difficulty, but it seems to get easier for me as I go along, if only the birds would pose nicely more often than they do.


      May 25, 2018 at 5:09 pm

  9. A delight as always to read your post. That’s a wonderful picture of the swan, so majestic and I agree about being alive in Springtime, it’s the best!


    May 25, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I hope that your spring has been as nice as it’s been here, it’s a joy to be alive this time of year.


      May 25, 2018 at 3:31 pm