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

Plans changed, again

Well, I was thinking of going up north this Thursday on a scouting trip to check out places to photograph the fall colors in a few weeks, but it looks like it’s going to rain heavily most of the day in the area that I’m planning on going to. I may not even make it out to shoot any photos today from the looks of the radar this morning, we’ll see.

So, this post will be mostly photos that I shot last week, when my plans were also changed, in part, due to the weather. The forecast for last Thursday was for a thin layer of high clouds, which created nice, diffused light which would have been great for macro photography of flowers. To go with that, very light winds, so I wouldn’t have to chase flowers being blown around in the wind. I went to Huff Park, and quickly ran into two problems, a lack of flowers still in bloom, and hoards of hungry mosquitos. As cool as it was, there were no dragonflies or damselflies moving at the time, and with no wind, there was nothing to keep the mosquitos in check.

Here’s a few of the photos I did shoot as I was slapping at the skeeters.

Dew covered flower

Unfortunately, even though there were large numbers of spiders around…

Orb weaver spider

…they had no effect on the mosquito population at all. I did shoot a few photos of this one to show how it was repairing its web.

Orb weaver spider

I also shot a couple of short videos of the spider weaving its web, but they’re too shaky to post.

Here’s the rest of the images from my short time at Huff Park last week.

Turtlehead flowers

 

Joe Pye weed

So, I returned to my car and thought about where I could go to shoot some photos, and I recalled seeing many bird sighting over the past few years from a park called Covell Park in Whitehall, Michigan.

Whitehall is the next city north of Muskegon, where the White River flows into Lake Michigan. It isn’t very far north of Muskegon, less than a half an hour if you take the expressway, a little longer if you take the back roads as I did.

Covell Park is for the most part a parking lot that provides access to what is a rails to trails pathway that runs north out of Whitehall. There’s a bridge over the White River, which is where I think that most of the bird sightings occur, as the area surrounding the river is marshland, which is great habitat for wading birds and shorebirds, which make up the majority of the bird sightings that I’ve been interested in from there. The bridge over the White River would be a great place to set-up a spotting scope and spend time scanning the edges of the marshes for such birds. But, for photography, there’s really no way to get close enough to the birds in the marshes by foot. It would be a great place to put a boat or kayak in the river, and slowly paddle around the marshes there though.

I did walk the section of the rail trail that passes through the marsh, but there were few openings in the vegetation where I could look into the marsh though. Here are the few images I shot there.

Purple sweet pea

 

Unidentified fungi

 

American goldfinch

 

Purple coneflower

 

Some species of lobelia

 

Yellow toadflax

 

Unknown flowering object

 

Fall still life

I should have shot a few wider photos to show the marshes and how the single path across them was the narrow, raised old railroad grade, but I didn’t. I doubt if I will return to that park unless I get really brave, and begin taking my expensive camera gear in my kayak in the future.

Since I was in the same general area, I stopped to shoot a photo of the lighthouse built where the White River meets Lake Michigan.

The White River Lighthouse

I should have, but couldn’t resist shooting a passing gull.

Ring-billed gull in flight

I also found a song sparrow scouring the rocks along the river channel for food.

Song sparrow looking surreal

It’s fall, and not only are birds migrating south, but so are the monarch butterflies. I may have a distorted view as far as how rare they are becoming, for I see them in large numbers near the shores of Lake Michigan every fall. I assume that they are headed southwest from across the entire state of Michigan, they get to Lake Michigan, and follow the coast south around the lake until they can fly across land in the direction that they really want to go. I saw a large number of them as I walked the short distance along the channel, and I just had to try to capture one in flight.

Monarch butterfly in flight

These photos were test shots to see if I could catch one, I may have to try this again when the skies are clear so that I get a better background than the grey skies when I shot these.

Monarch butterfly in flight

I’ve been checking the radar all morning, and moderate rain continues to fall to the north where I had planned on going today. The weather isn’t much better here, the rain did let up for a short time, but another line of thunder showers is passing overhead as I’ve been working on this post. So now, I’ll move on to  the photos from last Friday.

This is why I no longer shoot many photos of waterfowl in the fall…

Male northern shoveler in its fall plumage

…when they’re such colorful birds in the spring.

Male northern shoveler in flight

On the other hand, American kestrel are pretty birds at any time of the year.

American kestrel in flight

If only they’d allow me to get closer to them.

American kestrel in flight

Those were shot in the late morning, as dawn was quite foggy.

Foggy fall morning

Seeing a small flock of sandhill cranes in the fog…

Sandhill cranes on a foggy morning

…I decided that it would be a good test of the new 5D Mk IV to see how it would perform on a foggy day.

Sandhill cranes on a foggy morning

A little more work in Lightroom, and I came up with this one.

Sandhill cranes on a foggy morning

By the way, you can see that the cranes were eating corn that had been dropped in the road.

Grass seeds in the fog

Some one asked about dew covered spider webs, and while I’ve shot many of them this fall, I haven’t posted them. I feel that they are a bit clichéd, and I lose track of what I have and have not posted photos of recently. And, while I’ve shot many that were better than this next one, I haven’t shot what I considered to be one that stood out among the rest. I’ve done better in the past.

Spider web

And, unlike past years when I seldom saw the spiders that spun the webs, this year, I’m seeing them everywhere.

Garden spider and web

Dew does change the appearance of the things covered in it…

Grass seeds close up take 1

…so I tried two completely different takes on this example.

Grass seeds close up take 2

I wish that I could have gone slightly wider with this next one…

Fall colors

…but then I would have had some distractions in the frame to go with the bright leaves and berries.

I think that I post too many photos of dragonflies…

Dragonfly

…but that was a test of depth of field and composition when it comes to close-ups of insects.

Finally, two photos of a belted kingfisher in flight.

Belted kingfisher in flight

I used to post many photos of this species that were similar, but I haven’t posted any lately.

Belted kingfisher in flight

Well, it’s now Friday morning. I did manage to make it to the Muskegon area yesterday afternoon after the morning storms had passed through the area. I shot a pitifully low number of photos though, so I’ll just end this one here, and tell the story of what happened yesterday, and what happens today, in my next post.

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

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23 responses

  1. Exquisite photos, Jerry — thank you.

    September 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

    • Thank you very much Jet!

      September 22, 2018 at 2:15 am

  2. What a great variety of photographs you showed us. As so often I enjoyed your shots of birds in flight but the foggy ones were special too.

    September 21, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    • Thank you very much Susan! I do try to mix a little bit of everything in all of my posts, but I don’t always succeed.

      September 22, 2018 at 2:16 am

  3. It looks like you’re starting to see some good color there. Ours is just past starting and spotty so far.
    That is just about the strangest looking fungi I’ve seen. I think it had dried out.
    That rock that the sparrow was on is amazing. I think it would look like a mountain if the bird wasn’t there.
    I think the shot of the goldfinch is as close to perfect as it could get, and I like the shots of the dewy grass too.
    I thought the cranes were tearing up the cornfield!

    September 21, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen. The Virginia creeper is about at its peak color, and the maples are just beginning to turn, so it won’t be long now as far as fall colors.

      That was a weird looking fungi, but it certainly hadn’t dried out. We’ve had much higher than average rain since the last week of August, and received another 2 1/2 inches Thursday morning.

      Both the rock and the sparrow look better in my photo than they did in real life, I may have to watch that from now on. 😉

      As good as the goldfinch photo was, I still can do better, much better in fact, under the right conditions.

      I think that the cranes did do some damage to the corn, but they’d as soon eat bugs as the corn.

      September 22, 2018 at 2:27 am

  4. You are getting some excellent artistic images among your consistently good wild life shots. I very much enjoy the breadth of subject matter in your posts. The kestrel was the highlight for me today.

    September 21, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! The Kestrels are about the size of a pigeon, and extremely wary of humans. I wish that I could get close to one on a nice day to show how pretty they are.

      September 22, 2018 at 2:21 am

  5. You’ve done it again…such a variety of subjects and wonderful photos to look at and enjoy.

    September 22, 2018 at 11:12 am

    • Thank you very much Marianne! Wait until you see my next post if you liked the photos in this one. 😉

      September 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

  6. Fall has such amazing colors!

    September 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

    • Thank you very much Cornell! The best is yet to come.

      September 22, 2018 at 11:16 am

  7. Sorry I pressed the wrong key ….to continue… I can see that autumn colours are showing more readily now and along with the colours comes the ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’! Absolutely love the foggy photos of the cranes, the grass seeds and the spider’s web…all so atmospheric. The kestrel photo is a wonder of colour and grace against that blue sky and that lone butterfly so simple but beautiful. Thank you.

    September 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

    • Thank you again Marianne! I know all about pressing the wrong key, I still do it too many times.

      I’m finally learning to go with what nature gives me at the time, and I’m learning how to get the best in those situations. The photos that you mentioned are okay, but my heart wasn’t really in many of them, that’s something that I still need to work on that has nothing to do with the camera or lens I’m using. And, the reason for that is because of my expectations at the time, but I won’t bore you with why that matters.

      September 22, 2018 at 11:42 am

  8. Great collection of photos, Jerry. I really liked the two grass seed photos, going from color to black/white. It’s amazing how distinct each little bead of moisture is in the b/w version. I also enjoyed the sandhill cranes hanging out in the foggy road – it would be quite a shock to come across them in the morning before you’re fully awake.

    All I hear from Michigan friends are complaints about the exploding mosquito population. Must make your photography days a challenge.

    Thanks for the spider web – cliche or not!

    Keep it up.

    September 23, 2018 at 7:48 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I’m glad that you liked both versions of the dew covered grass seeds, I actually put some thought into both of them including moving to change the background in the images to best suite the type of image I was going for.

      I like bumping into cranes at any time, hearing them calling is very much like hearing the call of a loon to me.

      I’ll try to get better images of spider webs yet this fall, if I have any blood left after the skeeters are through with me. All the rain we’ve had over the last month has let the skeeters reproduce to extreme levels. I was talking to Brian Johnson again last week, and we had to cut the conversation short because we were both swallowing skeeters when we opened our mouths to talk.

      September 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm

  9. Impressive capture of the kestrel, love the Grass seeds close ups!

    September 24, 2018 at 6:41 am

    • Thank you very much Bob!

      September 24, 2018 at 6:45 am

  10. A beautiful series of captures, Jerry! I really love your American Goldfinch capture!!

    September 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    • Thank you very much Donna!

      September 26, 2018 at 2:27 pm

  11. Those grasses covered in dew are wonderful, especially the b/w shot! The colours of the coneflower are gorgeous and I think there can never be too many dragonflies! I’m sorry you have had mosquitoes and heavy rain to put up with! So disappointing when you have so little time for photography trips.

    September 27, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I’m enjoying photographing nature more than ever, and I’m willing to try things that I didn’t used to. I would have passed on the coneflower in the past because it was well past its prime. But, I loved the colors too, and I think that the scars on it added character to the flower. Things have only gotten worse here, there’s been a boom in the population of sand flies to go with the mosquitos, which is too bad, as the weather has cooled down enough that I could spend more time outside than I did during the summer if it wasn’t for the bugs.

      September 27, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      • What a shame!

        September 28, 2018 at 6:28 pm