Sunday, September 28, 2014

Deer Changes Reflect the Coming of Fall

I put out feed blocks for my deer over the spring and summer, but in greatly reduced amounts since they are mostly able to fend for themselves in the food department.  But with the advent of fall, I've stepped up my feeding program and they've returned to more regular visits.  I can't help but see how their appearances reflect the coming of fall.

While they are used to me being in the yard and at the window, they are still watchful of me as I photograph them through the window.  I'm amazed at how big the fawns have grown.

When one of the fawns wanders off on its own, I can't help but notice how its spots have faded to just a few on its rump.  The spots no longer are needed for camouflage as the fawns move toward young adulthood.

When another doe, Grandma Lucy, I think, joins in to share the deer block, I'm struck at how she's well into her gray-brown heavier winter coat.  The other doe shows evidence of molting on her side, but her process of growing a winter coat is slower because she's been lactating to feed her fawns.  I've learned that lactating and molting are both very demanding in energy consumption so the doe must finish one to begin the other.

My first visit at the feed block from a young buck showed that the males were undergoing their own changes.  Sporting his velvety antlers signaled his preparation for the upcoming fall rut.

And this dandy buck turned his head away from me, making sure I saw his antlers from all directions.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Sunset of Summer

It wasn't a great weekend for landscape photography, with all the rain.  So when the Monday weather forecast called for sunshine and clear skies, I knew where I would go at day's end.  I threw the pups in the car and headed for Christmas Cove.

As I turned into the parking lot, I was struck by its emptiness.  Where were all the cars of summer lined up for a classic Lake Michigan sunset?  Pushing down a tinge of sadness, I lost myself in the approaching sunset.  The sun was so bright, I could hardly look through my viewfinder.  I could tell it was going to be a good night for a sunset.

The sky reddened as the sun sank into the Lake.

It would be one of those sunsets where the time after equals the beauty of the actual sunset.

Before I knew it, it was gone.  The sun had set on the summer.

And the afterglow of memories was all that remained of another Leelanau summer.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Soccer Balls and Mouth Guards

I was heading downstate for my 50th high school class reunion.  (OMG)  I had planned to shoot the last of the three super moons for my blog.  But Mother Nature got in the way of those plans by sending clouds instead of clear skies.  I was staying with my photographer brother Mark and knew he'd have some ideas of what we could shoot in his neck of the woods.  Mark and his wife have 14 grandkids and I guessed our photo shoot might have something to do with the youngsters and their sporting events, and I was correct. 

Our first event was Gavin's soccer game.  But before the actual game began, I caught Mark holding grandson Titus and a soccer ball. 

This game involved Titus' big brother, Gavin, who's seen here going for the ball.

Again, Gavin takes the lead moving the ball with both teammates and opponents in pursuit.

Gavin focuses intently on watching the ball, while one following teammate closes his eyes and another looks in a direction away from the ball.

Here Gavin takes a breather and recovers from a fall.  This was actually his second game of the day with his first being an ice hockey game at 7:30 am. 

After Gavin's soccer game, we headed across town to catch Landen's flag football game.  Landen is five and has just begun kindergarten; this was his second flag football game.  Here is is trying to figure out how to comfortably insert the required guard into his mouth.

Landen wasn't the only youngster that seemed preoccupied with the fitting the mouth guard.

Is this how it goes?   Gag.

Or is this better?

With mouth guard more or less under control, Landen romps off with the football tucked under his arm.  Another player is in hot pursuit of Landen's flag.

Here Landen, obviously the smallest boy, prepares to receive the ball while the others seem to lack concentration of the play at hand.  They are only kindergarteners and first graders, after all!  And what do I know about football?  He does look like he's having some fun.

One more big smile for Aunt Karen, Landen?

Our last gig of the day was Payton's soccer game.  Payton is nine and big sister to Gavin and Titus. 

Payton plays on a travel team and the level of skill and athleticism is apparent right away.  

While Payton has control of the ball, her opponent is in hot pursuit.

The high level of interest and  concentration is evident with all  girls focused on the ball.

With hair flying, and focus intent, these young athletes appear fearless in their pursuit of the ball.

And the reunion?  It was a blast!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Magical Evening at Cross Farms

A couple days ago, my friend Karen Cross texted me that Sandhill Cranes had been visiting the labyrinth area at Cross Farms.  We decided I'd come by the next evening to see if I could photograph this large, yet elegant bird.

When I arrived, I parked just inside the drive and carried my gear around the back of the house.  I didn't want to disturb the birds in case they had arrived before me.  They hadn't so I took my time setting up my camera and long lens on my tripod.  I immediately noticed the beautiful Monarch butterflies on their butterfly bush.

Shortly after, I caught sight of a flock of big birds flying in.  At first I thought they were the Sandhill Cranes, but their honking gave them away to be geese.  I was disappointed at first, but the Crosses told me the cranes typically follow the geese.

And, sure enough, a pair of Sandhill Cranes soon joined the geese along the edge of a field of rye. 

One of the birds took the job of jabbing its bill into the soil for rye seeds and insects.

While the one bird hunted, the other kept watch over the area.

Its orange-red eye was alert for any predators that might bring harm to the hunting mate.

Even though the birds had different roles, they were never far apart; their bond was palpable.

But the real show began as the two cranes began their pair-bonding dance.

 Their moves, elegant and graceful, were something I'd not witnessed before.  One bird spread and fluttered its wings, displaying a huge wingspan.

The other crane strutted towards its mate, its plumage held out like a majestic cape trailing behind.

After a while, I just watched the show.  I no longer had the words to describe the wonder I was seeing.  Thank you, Rick and Karen, for a magical evening at your beautiful farm.