Saturday, October 28, 2017


Traverse City loves decorating for the holidays, and Halloween is no exception.  It's fun to drive around and see the creativity people have put into their outdoor displays.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


I spent a lot of time this week at the north end of Boardman Lake in search of cormorants.  I ended up taking nearly 700 pictures of these incredible, very large waterfowl. 

The first cormorants I saw were perched on a log sticking out of the water.  A third bird, probably a juvenile, was enjoying itself in the water.  The cormorant ranges in size from 32-72 inches and typically weighs about 64 ounces. 

While I was too far away to get a good close up shot, I delighted in watching one of the adults take to the air.  He touched off three times before finally getting himself up.  I enjoyed watching these birds through my binoculars as much as I did photographing them.

I left the first site and continued my search for more cormorants.  They blend in quite well with their surroundings so I didn't see this grouping until I looked through my long lens.  Count them, there are twelve of them.  They were either preening or napping; I couldn't really tell. 

Besides the big group, there were four or five nearby smaller groups, like this threesome.  They looked like they were having a conversation.

When I returned to the larger grouping, they were all perked up with necks stretched out in various directions.  You could see the variety of colors among them, males and females, juveniles, breeders and non-breeders.  They stood there stiffly and made quite the family portrait.

Friday, October 13, 2017


The fall bird migration is underway.  My favorite birding habitat south of Traverse City has been devoid of Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons for at least the last couple weeks.  Since the Boardman Lake hosts a variety of waterfowl year round, my bird photography has shifted to that area.

In Traverse City, the Boardman River drains into West Bay from Boardman Lake.  At the lake's north end, both Logan's Landing and Medalie Park provide excellent bird viewing spots.  Some waterfowl, like this family of Mute Swans, including two parents and four juveniles, are year-round lake residents. 

Mallard ducks are also common year-round inhabitants of Boardman Lake.  These male Mallards are on the hunt for any insects or crustaceans that are on or just below the lake's surface.

But during the fall migration, the waterfowl population explodes with many species using the lake as a good stopping point as they transition from one habitat to another.  Buffleheads are one of new ducks arriving at the Boardman.

Redheads are also part of the visiting migration.  Some of the waterfowl will stay until the Boardman Lake freezes over and they are forced to find a more hospitable location.

The ducks especially enjoy the old wooden pylons that dot the north end of the lake.  I enjoy seeing the ducks there because they're a bit closer and I can get better images of them.

For me, the catch of the day was this giant cormorant I saw on the far side of the lake.  I wish it had been closer, or that I'd had a longer lens.  I will be on the lookout for this big bird over the next few weeks.  It typically is here over the summer, but then moves on during the colder months

Friday, October 6, 2017


If there is one type of bird I've missed since moving from the North woods to city life, it's the woodpecker.  I'd had downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and even a few pileateds.  But in the city, I was beginning to think my habitat was no longer suited for woodpeckers.

Then, one day as I was outside with Gracie, I thought I heard the faint drumming sound a woodpecker makes.  I kept an eye out for one and a few days later, I saw a Downy Woodpecker drumming away on my lilac bush.

It was exciting to have this smallest of woodpeckers visiting.  I know they are drawn to dead wood, which made we wonder about the health of my aging lilac.

Then I saw the attraction.  In one of the recent windstorms, a branch was torn off my lilac, leaving this gaping hole.

And sure enough, the next day, the little Downy was enjoying whatever bugs were found within the hole.

I hoped to keep the Downy coming so I bought a suet feeder and hung it near the lilac bush.  Luckily, it has returned.  It pecks at the tree a few times, jumps to the feeder, extracts a hunk of suet, and then flies off into the large tree stand at the back of my property.  I wonder if there will be more woodpecker visitors joining the little Downy.