Friday, April 29, 2016

Diving Duck(s)

I was driving along the bay when I spotted a couple Red-Breasted Mergansers bobbing along on the bay.  I wondered if they were in the process of migrating to their summer breeding grounds, typically a bit north of us.

I enjoy watching these diving ducks because of their unique appearance and because of the antics they go through while they're diving for fish, most often in salt water regions.

The male is very striking with his greenish-black iridescent head, red eye, and long, thin, orange to red bill.  But it's the spikey black crest that I like the most.

The female is much less dramatic with its head a solid red-brown and its breast, back, and wings a marbled brownish-gray. 

I was waiting for the fishing to begin.  I got several images of the male sticking his head partly under the surface.  He seemed to be looking into the water, but didn't find anything worthy of diving for.

In contrast, the female was really into it.  She propelled her whole body into the diving act.

Pretty soon she was bottoms up.

She was completely submerged, kicking up ripples in her wake.

Success!  When she surfaced, she'd captured her prey.  Looks like the high energy paid off.  I wonder if she'll share it with her mate?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Slowly Unfolds

Spring flowers are beginning to pop up in gardens and along the roadsides.  Can trillium and cherry blossoms be far behind?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Willow, Weep for Me

From Billie Holiday's jazz standard to Harry Potter novels and films, willow trees have long been a part of American culture.

These water-loving trees commonly dot Leelanau shorelines, their low drooping branches dipping towards the Bay.

Northport's G. Marsten Dame Marina is home to several old, beautiful willows.

Besides their unparalleled grace, what I like most about willows is that their branchlets turn reddish brown during the winter. 

When you survey the early spring treeline, these willows give the landscape a much needed break from the monochromatic tones of winter.

The stems especially stand out against the bright blue skies we've had this week.

Being one of the first to bear leaves in the spring, I look forward to the willow's slender leaves swaying in the breeze and ushering in the new season.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Unwelcome Beauty

More than ready to return to the warm days of those early spring teasers, I wasn't too happy when two clippers brought snow and cold temperatures back to the North Country.  I had to admit, however, that the snow was beautiful, especially as it graced the many kinds of evergreen trees that populate our area.  Some types are weighed down by the heavy snow, while others hold the snow elegantly with their firmer bough structures.  But all are lovely in their own ways when the snows fly.

Friday, April 1, 2016

First Road Trip of Spring

In between the snowstorms and rain, there have been a few days of sun and blue skies.  I decided to take my first road trip of spring down M-22.  I made stops at Good Harbor Bay, Port Oneida, Glen Haven, and ended up at Art's for dinner.

Searching for a place watch the sunset, I headed to Empire Beach.  I wasn't alone; cars were pouring in and jockeying for the best viewing spot.  And it was only March!

The sky was brilliant orange as the sun sank into the Lake. 

And suddenly the sun was gone, leaving me to anticipate the afterglow.

A few streaky clouds made the sky interesting.

Towards the north, a rosy glow enveloped Empire Bluffs.

I don't think there's a better way to end the day than to watch the sunset.  Peace came over me as I made the drive back to Northport.