Thursday, January 17, 2019

A TWO-FOR-ONE OUTING


The Audubon email hotline had been running rampant with a great variety of bird sightings.  A Northern Mockingbird at Chums Corner.  Hundreds of Waxwings on Deadstream Road.  Tundra Swans at Logan’s Landing.  Two Snowy Owls near the ballpark.



Word of the Snowy Owl sightings got me moving since I hadn’t seen one yet this winter.  I almost immediately spotted the first owl on the corner of an outbuilding for one of the industrial park businesses.  It was pretty distant to get a good close-up shot. 



When I saw the owl on the roof of the warehouse, I wondered, why there?  What was attraction?  Then I drove on and saw the big field outside the fencing that would be perfect for hunting mice and voles, staples of the Snowy Owl diet.



I decided to drive to the other side of the building to get a closer look.  I hoped the bird wouldn’t fly off in the time it took to get there.  As I drew near, I could see the Snowy was a female, identified as such by the black bar markings.  She was a beauty, I thought, as she squinted at me in the bright sunshine.



I drove on, hoping to see the second Snowy that had been sighted in the area that day.  Fortunately, I saw it almost immediately, its distinctive white shape perched atop a light pole.  It stood out against the brilliant blue sky.  I can’t tell you how many Snowies I’ve photographed against dull, winter gray skies so the blue sky was a real treat.



I drew closer and could see this Snowy was smaller than the first one.  It was beautiful!  Mostly pure white with just a few dark markings, the sign that this bird was a male.  This was the first time I’d photographed a male Snowy.



I noticed in the bright sunshine, the Snowy had its third, transparent eyelid down to protect its eyes from the bright sunlight.  No piercing yellow eyes today!



I took another look at the female.  I was able to get closer and it was keen on keeping an eye on me.  It didn’t, however, give me a flash of its yellow eye, nor did it take to flight.  There’ll be another time though.  As always, Snowy Owls are magnificent creatures to see.  And to photograph both a female and a male in one outing…well, it doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

BEACH WEATHER



It was 24 degrees outside, and a stiff wind was blowing from the north.  Seemed like the perfect time to see what was happening at the beach.



Mine was the only car at the deserted State Park Beach.  Picnic tables were stacked on-end ready for warmer times. 



The aquamarine waters of West Bay were dotted with waves and white caps.  I was tempted to walk the beach with Gracie but decided against it as soon as I tried to open the car door against the force of the wind.



Over at Clinch Park, there were a few more people.  I, along with another water-worshiper in the next car, watched the surf pound the breakwater.



A lone seagull was standing at the shoreline looking out.  I wondered what it was doing since it didn’t appear to be an ideal place for fishing.



As the next wave brought in debris, I realized that the gull was picking through the surf to see what might be edible.



Not finding enough for a satisfactory meal, the gull took flight for deeper waters.



It landed farther out in the bay.  I shivered at the thought of touching down in that cold water but hoped the gull found successful fishing.



The sight of the ice-cycles forming along the railing made me shiver again.  It was time to head home and warm up by the fire.



Thursday, January 3, 2019

WINTER'S QUIET BEAUTY ARRIVES


Yesterday, despite the snow and slippery roads, I got out and explored the countryside on the eastern side of town, where I'm now living.  There were many beautiful scenes to photograph, but it was also easy to get lost without the Bay being visible to continually orient myself.



















Thursday, December 27, 2018

TEN FAVORITES OF 2018


It's the time of year when we look back over the soon-to-end year and evaluate various parts of our lives.  I do that with the images from my photography blog and choose my favorite ten pictures of 2018.  Here they are, along with the reasons why I picked them.



Number Ten.  This image of Fishtown struck me because of its tonal qualities.  It wasn't a sunny day, yet I like the pervasive aqua colors of the Carp River and Lake Michigan, especially as they tie in with the iconic, green fishing tug, the Janice Sue.



Number Nine.   I like the tonal qualities of this image too with the sky showing a faint pinking as sunset approaches.  I also chose this picture because of its size contrasts, with the fly fisherman appearing very small against the giant Empire Bluffs dune in the background.



Number Eight.  I always include a Gracie picture in my top ten.  Here she and her new friend Rosie check each other out on one of their first play dates.



Number Seven.  I love photographing wildlife and birds and was very lucky to see this Great Blue Heron out my front slider from the condo I was staying in while my new home was being built.  The situation was a good example of photo opportunities that are all around us if we just pay attention to our surroundings...and have a camera ready.



Number Six.  I love these golden willows along Silver Lake Road.  It wasn't a pretty day, and the sky was definitely a blank gray, but the willows stood out and were even reflected in the wet pavement.



Number Five.  These delicate, yet ephemeral blossoms caught my eye, and I was lucky enough to photograph them before a spring wind blew them away.



Number Four.  For nearly a week I got to watch Cedar Waxwings devour the fermented berries from a Mountain Ash tree in my backyard.  I'd heard of drunken birds, but this was my first time witnessing them in action.



Number Three.  I got numerous images of this doe and her young fawn feeding in a field of wildflowers.  I liked this one best when they turned and ran off, their beautiful white tails held high.



Number Two.  I photographed the Snowy Owl many times last winter during their irruption to our area.  They certainly are beautiful critters.  But nature isn't always pretty, and I think this image shows both the beauty of the owl and the reality of these birds of prey hunting for survival.



Number One.  You might have guessed that my favorite picture of 2018 would involve Sandhill Cranes.  I didn't see as many of them this year, but I was lucky to catch this pair in a series of pair bonding dances after an April snowstorm.  Besides being able to watch their interesting mating machinations, I love the tawny tonal qualities of their plumage matching the leftover cornstalks, all against the backdrop of a spring snowfall.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!


Yeah, I know, she's a cutie. 


Gracie loves the camera and gets lots of practice being my photography model.  No matter what outlandish outfit I dress her in, she's game.  While I pose her, she never moves a muscle.  But what she loves even more than modeling doggy outfits is going with me on photoshoots.  When I pick up my camera bag, she goes wild and runs to the door to the garage.



One of the favorite places we like to drive through to take pictures is the Grand Traverse Commons.  There are many mature, tall evergreens that are decorated to the hilt.




The trees are a sight to behold with a touch of snow on the ground and the backdrop of the renovated buildings of the old State Hospital.



These decorated, statuesque evergreens rival ones we often see in state capitols during the holiday season.  But if you want to see a decorated Christmas tree rivalling no other, take a drive up M-22 to the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.



There in the village of Northport, you'll find a strikingly adorned tree at the intersection of Waukazoo and Nagonaba Streets.  I took this photo in 2015 when I still lived in the community.



As I wish all my blog friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday from my house to yours, my wish takes on a speciial meaning this year because Gracie and I moved into our new home on Saturday.  Even amidst all the unpacked boxes, we are finding the time to put up our tree, light some candles, and play our favorite Christmas songs.  May you have a wonderful time celebrating the season with family and friends.