Saturday, January 28, 2017

Landscape Whitens Up...a bit

I held off doing my blog because the weather report had called for colder temps and a couple inches of lake effect each day starting Thursday.  While that much didn't materialize, it's looking a bit more like winter.  It was my first time driving around the back roads of Grand Traverse County to explore the landscape. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

January Thaw

It's been feeling more like March or April than January.  Rain, melting snow, dirty snow, puddles.  I was in search of something beautiful to photograph that would cheer the dreary days.

I spied a large raft of mallards out on the bay and knew I'd found my subjects.  While these ducks are very commonplace, they are lovely and I love to watch their antics.

This couple seemed to be enjoying the day as they bobbed together on the choppy bay.

While the male is often thought to be the more colorful of the pair, this female, with her back feathers in variegated shades of tan and brown, is good-looking in her own right.

Here she is in the midst of dabbling along the water; she cruises along tipping her head forward to eat seeds and other aquatic vegetation.

Occasionally, a mallard will go bottoms up to reach for food a bit deeper, but skimming is the mallards' preferred method of feeding.

Besides feeding, the ducks performed their second most common task, preening.  With over 25,000 feathers, preening is the way mallards, and other birds too, remove dust, dirt, and parasites from their feathers to keep them in optimum condition.

But the part that is most fun to watch and photograph, however, is when the male mallard begins to display for his nearby mate.

Rising up out of the water, it's easier to see the male mallard's beautiful green cap and blue on his feathers.  So glad to have had these beautiful moments with these gorgeous critters. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Uncommon Commons

One of the places I've been exploring since my move to Traverse City is the Grand Traverse Commons.  The Commons is a mixed-use hub of shops, restaurants, and condominium and senior apartment homes.  It's also home to a yoga health education center where I'm taking a class.

The Commons has been developed using the buildings and grounds of the now defunct Traverse City State Hospital, which closed in 1989 following a national philosophy change in caring for the mentally ill, resulting in the deinstitutionalization of this population.

The structures remain true to their Victorian-Italianate architectural design.  Buff-colored brick, towers, bracketed eves, dormers, and expansive porches were common, and remain so.  I can almost see Dr. Munson's patients enjoying an evening on the porch after their work day of farming, furniture construction, fruit canning, and other jobs that kept the asylum self-sufficient.

But it's the red-topped spires that have most drawn me to the explore The Commons.

Some spires have white ornamentation against a color-coordinated buff background.

Others have a louvered design on the sides.  All are topped off with gold ornamentation.

No matter where you are in The Commons, these spires stand out against the sky.

This is one of my favorite spots because five spires are visible from this one perspective.  Only three are on this building in the foreground.  The others rise above from buildings in the background.  I wish I'd had a more panoramic picture showing a full 360 degree rotation so I could count all the red spires I was seeing.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

It's All in the Habitat

One of the first tasks in my new home was to set up bird feeders off my deck.  In Northport, I'd not been able to attract cardinals to my feeders because they didn’t like my woodsy environment.  I hoped they’d like my new surroundings better with its shrubby areas.

I made sure my two new feeders had feeding platforms, which cardinals prefer.

A small Black-capped chickadee was the first to arrive at the No-Mess Feeder, with its blend of sunflower chips, hulled millet, and shelled peanuts.

It enjoyed the Seed Cylinder too with mealworms, sunflower chips, peanuts, raisins, and cranberries.  But still no cardinals.

A few days later, as I was passing through my living room, I caught sight of a red splotch in the Rose of Sharon bush next to my feeders.  Could it be??  Yes, it was a beautiful male Northern Cardinal!  My excitement was palpable.

It took another few days before I saw a cardinal actually visit a feeder, and this time it was a female.   Its heavy red bill matched its red wings and tail.   

And soon the vibrant male joined its mate at the seed cylinder.

Looks like the cardinals are delighting in the new habitat.  What a cheery gift they've become on these snowy wintry days!