Thursday, May 30, 2019
I learned during my years living in Northport that Marsh Marigolds precede the arrival of Trillium at two sites, both known as Trillium Hill. In those areas, the trillium are spread over hills for as far as your eyes can see. I’ve found a few patches of both flowers in Traverse City, but none that rival what’s at Trillium Hill. The beauty of those hills always coaxes me back to Northport for more springtime pictures. You know, one can never have too many trillium photographs.
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Starting Sunday afternoon, the local Audubon email alert was going wild. Best Warbler day ever, I read. The hotbed of activity seemed to be the south end of Boardman Lake around Medalie Park and the Boardman Lake Trail. After the third alert, I couldn’t stand it, so I headed out.
My first sighting was this beautiful male Northern Cardinal. It was nice to see the bird in a natural surrounding versus on my feeders.
It didn’t take long to spy another of my favorites, a Red-winged Blackbird. This species’ birdsong fills the spring air with their beautiful trills.
I followed this beauty as it moved to a cattail spike. It was fun to watch as it put its whole body into vocalizing.
And nearby was a female Red-winged Blackbird. Can hardly believe these two are both RWBBs! Like several species, the males and females are markedly different in appearance.
While I hadn’t yet seen any of the exotics yet, I began seeing birds new to me. This Song Sparrow likes the marshy area where I photographed it.
This Eastern Phoebe was coming into its summer breeding grounds. So far, I’d seen some new birds, but none of the warblers I’d heard about.
Then I hit the jackpot with this beautiful Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler. This male was definitely migrating to its summer habitat.
The warbler turned my way for this goofy-looking front pose. Then it took off. I felt lucky to have sighted three new birds, including one of the exotic warbler types. A banner day for birders.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019
It’s a rare opportunity that I get to photograph a hawk. They are very flighty and often fly off when I get into shooting range.
I was driving along a country road and spotted some critter in a hilly front yard, still brown with winter. I turned around and approached slowly, hoping to see what it was. It appeared to be a hawk with its head buried deep in the grass.
It lifted its head and glanced in my direction. I think it was a Broad-winged Hawk. I was feeling lucky that it would be more interested in whatever prey it was eating and would let me get some pictures.
Fortune was with me, as the hawk returned its concentration to eating. It leaned back into its prey with its mouth open.
It didn’t forget me, however, and occasionally it would look back at me. I love it when I can get these front-on shots! It gives the bird a whole different look.
I wondered what the hawk was eating since it was digging deeply into the field grass. Hawks usually feed on small mammals, birds, large insects, and reptiles.
It didn’t give me much of a clue, however, when it came up again chewing on something that looked like twigs.
The hawk ruffled its feathers and emitted a piercing whistle. It looked ready to take off. Or was it letting me know it’d had enough of this picture-taking thing? So I moved on, feeling both satisfied and fortunate.
Thursday, May 2, 2019
This spring, the south end of Boardman Lake has been home to many migrating ducks, birds, and gulls. I’ve received Audubon alerts for Ruddy ducks, Goldeneyes, Caspian Terns, Bonaparte gulls, and Shovelers.
One day that I visited Logan’s Landing, I saw a pair of Scaups. These ducks can be a challenge to photograph since they are often on the move diving for aquatic insects and plants.
As is often the case in the bird world, the female has distinctly different coloring than her mate. Scaups face a long migration as they head to Alaska and other Arctic regions for their summer habitats.
A favorite duck of mine is the Hooded Merganser. I spotted this pair, with the male in the lead, in a farmland marsh outside of town. Notice the turtles nonchalantly resting on a nearby log.
What I like best about this duck is the plumed head of the male Hooded Merganser. When the plume is dry, it is very striking and gives the duck the appearance of having a very large head.
Ducks aren’t the only ones enjoying the spring thaw of lakes and farmland ponds. I caught this pair of Canadian Geese playing in the water of Boardman Lake. These waterfowl are year-round residents of much of Michigan.
This pair was walking along the shoreline of the Boardman River. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had a nearby nest as they were alert and ready to take to the water if I came any closer.
Speaking of nesting geese, I think I may have one near my home. Mitchell Creek flows through my neighborhood and ponds in several places. In one area, I’ve seen this goose on a nest. Another part of me thinks there may be a trickster at play since I’ve not seen another goose nearby. Could this be a decoy placed on a nest? Time will tell.