Thursday, September 27, 2018


I’m living in a friend’s condo while my new home is being built in TC.  I decided condo living wasn’t right for me, especially with having a dog.

It’s on a golf course and I have a lovely front lawn.  Between the lawn and the golf course fairway is a beautiful copse of trees.  I know there’s some water in there too because I’ve seen golfers go in with their ball retrievers to reclaim balls that have been hit awry.

I glanced up from the reading I was doing and saw movement along the tree line.  I wasn’t sure, though, what I was seeing until I grabbed my camera and long lens.  It was a Great Blue Heron right in my own front yard.

I didn’t know what the heron was doing there.  Had it been living in the wetland area?  Was it lost?  Or had it begun its southward migration?  It seemed pretty vigilant, stopping every now and then to crane its long neck to peek through the trees.  Maybe it was just watching out for errant golf balls. 

Finally deciding it was safe to continue, the Great Blue lowered its neck and continued its journey. 

As it neared the end of the tree line, the bird stretched its neck up again peered through some evergreen branches.

The heron continued to be vigilant as it inched its way leftward, losing its protection.  No danger appeared to be on the other side, and the sand trap was thankfully empty.

Feeling safe enough to leave the protection of the trees, it broke into open space and headed down a gentle slop.  I wondered whether others in the complex were enjoying the show.

The Great Blue Heron reached a stand of evergreen trees.  It was becoming out of my range to photograph.  I haven’t seen the beautiful bird since, but I hope it reached its destination safely.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


I’d driven by this field many times.  But on this particular evening, I did a double take and backed up.

A horse was grazing in this field of tall hay.  The sun was still high enough in the sky that it made the whole scene golden. 

I wondered whether this critter was new to the field or had I missed it before?  Its blond mane and tail blended right in with the hay field, which was nearly as tall as the horse.

The horse was intent on eating and didn’t look up, so I moved on, seeking other subjects.  I came back though at the end of my photoshoot.  The light was fading, and the horse and hay had changed from golden hues to silvery ones.

I really wanted to see the horse’s face.  It wasn’t cooperating, though.  It did appear to peek at me surreptitiously through the hay.

Then it finally raised its head up all the way.  Look this way, Blondie, I wished.

The horse turned a bit more but kept its eyes averted.  Was it afraid?  Or shy?

Finally, it looked right at me.  Oh, what a beauty!  Floppy blond mane and a beautiful blaze on its face.  You may be a camouflage artist, Blondie, but I won’t drive by that field again without looking for you.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


I returned to farm country hoping to see some Sandhill Cranes.  These birds love to feast on corn stalks that’ve been harvested and plowed into the soil.  Right away I was disappointed because I could see the corn fields hadn’t yet been plowed.

What I did see was a flock of turkeys walking along in a straight line and pecking at the ground for nourishment, typically berries, insects, and nuts.

I saw turkeys occasionally when I lived in Northport, but I really haven’t taken a big interest in these birds.  Except when they are displaying their beautiful tail feathers, I find their appearance somewhat unusual, especially their red throat wattles and bulging eyes.

In fact, the turkey’s head reminded me a bit of E.T., you know, the Extra-Terrestrial.  As the birds were walking out of range, I decided to move on.

 I was just about ready to call it quits for the evening when I caught movement in a field across from Hency Marsh.  Sandhill Cranes!  One appeared to be digging in the dirt while its mate stood watch.

The digging crane seemed poised to plunge its dagger-like bill down into the soil searching for vegetation, insects, or grains.

The crane finally plunged its bill deep into the soil.  I couldn’t wait to see what it came up with.

I was learning the crane actually had a process to its foraging.  It would delve deeply into the soil to grab a bill-full of soil.  Then it would drop the soil on the surface of the ground and pick through it to see what edibles it had found.

In the end, I found more similarities between turkeys and cranes than I’d expected.  Both move along with a herky-jerky motion, and both use their bills to peck into the soil to find food.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


I made another visit to the marsh north of Elk Rapids.  This time I brought my 1.4x extender so I could get a little more range while shooting the waterfowl there. 

In my first pass by the marsh, I saw four wood ducks sitting on a log.  I completely missed the critter at the far right end of the frame.

On my second drive-by, I saw the Great Blue Heron.  It appeared to be intently watching the water.  I wondered if it was getting ready to impale a fish or frog with its spear-like bill.

No action happened, however.  In fact, the heron tucked itself in tightly and closed its eyes.  Perhaps it was nap time.

The nap was short-lived, however, and a few minutes later, the Great Blue was wide-eyed and searching once again.

It stood on one leg and surveyed the other side of its surroundings.  I wondered whether some sound or movement had made it look in that directions.

I noticed there were several loose feathers on this heron and it made me concerned whether it was healthy.  Birds typically are good about preening several times a day to keep their coats in optimum condition.

A light rain had begun to fall, and I pulled my camera and lens back into the car to keep them dry.  As I did, the Great Blue looked over my way as if to say, "You get enough of me?"