Saturday, May 30, 2015

Welcome Guest Photographer, Janet Stutzman

My good friend Janet Stutzman agreed to be my guest photographer this week.  I met Jan soon after moving to Northport and we have been on similar paths developing our photography skills during retirement.  I'll let Jan tell her story about how she got into photography and what kinds she enjoys most.
My  thanks  to Karen for the invitation to share some of my favorite photos with you.  I enjoyed choosing them and I hope you enjoy viewing them.  My love of nature and wildlife dates back to childhood.   I was a country kid and for years my best friend was the boy next door.  Together, we climbed trees, hung out at a neighboring farm and roamed the nearby woods.   I got my first camera when I was around 12 years old and have been taking pictures, off and on, ever since.   However, it was only after moving to Northport in 2004 that my love of nature and wildlife jelled with my interest in photography. 

Many of my favorite images were shot through the living room window.   This macro image is of a katydid that was on the outside of the window.   After I posted the image on Flickr, one of my favorite ways to share my photos, a Flickr friend asked if I could just send him my window and asked if it was magic.  BTW, my love of getting up close and personal with the critters I shoot has resulted in an interest in macro photography.  It is amazing what you can see through a macro lens!!  

Our house is on a wooded piece of land that attracts all sorts of birds and wildlife.   From the front window, we see squirrels and deer on  a daily basis. We’ve also seen foxes, coyotes, raccoons, an opossum, a bobcat, and even a bear.  One of my joys is to capture special moments of animals and birds in interaction.  This is one of last summer’s fawns nuzzling its mom.

 Our feeders are regularly visited by chickadees, finches, crows, nuthatches, blue jays, mourning doves, and various woodpeckers – Piliated, Downies, Hairies, and Red-Bellies.   Indigo buntings and hummingbirds are cherished summer visitors.   Wild turkeys are regular visitors, too.  They used to come in large flocks of 40 or more during the winter, but now we see a few of them all year long.  Currently, an old tom, two jakes, and a young hen are daily visitors. This is a shot of a male pileated woodpecker feeding  a fledging.

Like Karen, we put food out for the deer to help them get through the winter.  I caught these deer feeding during a snow storm early last February.

 This little red squirrel avoided snow drifts by tunneling beneath them.  It was very entertaining to  watch it dig under the snow and then come popping up to take a look around. 

I love chipmunks.  They have little fear of humans and  I’ve been able to “make friends” with two or three of them each summer, even getting them to eat sunflower seeds out of my hand.  I’ve found they are willing models as long as peanuts or sunflower seeds are in the offing.  I’m always a bit sad when they leave in the fall to go into hibernation and overjoyed when they return in the spring.

Recently, a friend and I were photographing a family of Sandhill Cranes when a pair of them flew off. They circled around and flew right over our heads so fast that neither of us got a good shot. Many minutes later, they returned.  This time I ended up getting a series of shots as the cranes came in for a landing.  This is my favorite.

Visiting national wildlife refuges provides the  opportunity to see animals and birds that may  not  be native to Michigan.   This image of a male great egret in breeding plumage was taken last March at the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge near Savannah, Ga.

 Lovely, Jan; all of them.  Thanks for sharing your wonderful images with my readers. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Beautiful Time!

Last week, my camera focused on the trillium that graced the hillsides at the peninsula's tip.  This week, while the trillium still bloom abundantly, the cherry blossoms have taken center stage.  While we all have been holding our collective breaths through the recent cold snap and freeze warnings, right now blossom-time is well underway.  Let's hope these lovely, but vulnerable trees, make it through the spring season with minimal loss.  And as we are in the midst of Memorial Weekend, let's take a moment to remember all those who've so valiantly served our country.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hills of Trillium

I'm on beauty overload this week.  Between the hills of blooming trillium and the cherries coming into blossom, there isn't a lovelier place in May than the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.  You will see small groupings of trillium in the woods along M-22, but it's when you see them en masse covering whole hillsides that you are astounded by their splendor.  Hope you can take a drive to see them before they're gone.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Atmospherics at Kehl Lake

It's no secret that Kehl Lake is one of my favorite places to visit and photograph.  I love the quiet there.  It's rare to run into other people, and I often see wildlife and hear birds singing, which I always enjoy.

This morning, as I rounded the bend towards the lake, I could see it was shrouded in heavy fog and mist.

It was difficult to see through the fog to the far side of the lake, and the reflections on the water were barely visible.

As I tromped around the lake, I found remnants of campfires and even the shell of an old wooden rowboat.  I wondered how long it had been there rotting.

But it was the fog and mists rising off the lake that really captured my attention this morning.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Grace and Elegance

I was driving along a wetland area of the Bay when I spotted two Sandhill Cranes in the reeds.  They appeared to be preening themselves and I wasn't sure if they would come further out into the open. 

I assumed they were a pair since cranes mate for life.  They seemed to be making a slow stroll into the open and I looked forward to getting a clearer image of them.  I had my camera ready too.

Reaching open space, both cranes began to preen themselves.  I could see they were more rust-colored than the typical gray I'd seen before in cranes.  I checked my bird book and learned that during breeding, cranes' plumage can appear worn and stained, almost ochre in color.  Migrating sandhill cranes can be a rusty-orange too from being around iron-rich mud.

Shortly after coming into the open, one of the Sandhill Cranes lifted itself up and began to display its gigantic wingspan.  I immediately was reminded of the displaying male turkeys we are currently seeing all over Northport.  But, I've learned, both genders of cranes display during courtship vs. just the males.

This Sandhill Crane's wingspan was gigantic; I estimated it to be at least five or six feet in breadth.  What power those wings would bring for the long winter migrations to warmer climates!

I was amazed at all the various shapes the displaying Crane was showing me.

Meanwhile, the mate was putting on a show of its own, but one more of delicate balancing over the raw power shown by the other bird.  It was hard for me not to stereotype this bird as the female.  Its long neck was able to reach all parts of its body.

Finished with its first stunt, the crane bent over deeply, as if making a bow to the applause from its grateful admirers.  Its front toe was poised forward, like a dancer in ballet pointe shoes.

Then standing on just one leg, the Sandhill Crane moved on to its second feat, this time reaching tightly over its body, as if in a close-fitting yoga pose.

I was suddenly surprised when the dancing crane let out a loud trumpeting call, a signal to me that the show was over.  As the cranes continued their stroll along the beach, I pulled my camera back into the car, appreciative of another show from Northport's waterfowl.