Thursday, October 31, 2019


Traverse City never disappoints with its holiday decorations.  City neighborhoods are decked out in Halloween lights and displays, ranging from tastefully traditional to simply scary.  But this Halloween, the National Weather Service indicates there may be more brrrr and less booo with the season's first snowfall potentially on the way.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


Last Sunday was an amazing sunny day sandwiched between several rainy days.  It was the perfect day to be a leaf peeper taking in the fall color.  The vistas had come alive with autumn splendor, and the bright reds, yellows, and oranges did not disappoint.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


It’s already mid-October, and I’d say we’re at least a week from peak color.  Around town and in the neighborhoods, there are some lovely trees in full color.  But the signature vistas that typically define fall color are just beginning to show.  I wonder what impact our rainy fall will have on how brilliant our trees will become.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


I talked to my brother a few days ago, and he told me of seeing a large number of migrating Sandhill Hill Cranes in a marshy area near where he lives.  I decided to head out and see whether I’d also see any evidence of the migrations.

Right away, I saw a rolling hill of cut corn stalks, a perfect habitat for hungry cranes after a day of flying.  I almost missed the three cranes to the right, whose coloring nearly blended into the field.

I wondered whether this was the same family I’d seen earlier, two parents with a juvenile.  The young one was busy eating from the field, perhaps storing up for its first migratory flight.

As I inched my way towards the other side of the same field, I saw a whole flock of cranes bunched together and feasting.  I counted twenty-five in all.  I was using my long lens so I could only capture nine or ten at a time.

I drove on and saw another hillside densely packed with migrating waterfowl, this time Canadian Geese.

The geese were a beehive of activity.  Some appeared to be resting, others eating.  One had caught sight of me and was watching intently.  There was even a female mallard near the right forefront of the group.  I moved on in search of more migrating critters.

And then I saw them.  The family of four that I’d been photographing since late summer.  They were quite spread out, and I couldn’t get a good family picture.  The two juveniles were in the center, so I knew this was the same family.

I’d seen this family of four in the same exact location three times.  It was a field right next to a farm that raised cattle.  The other times I’d seen this family, they were in the field directly across the street from that farm.  I couldn’t help but wonder if these parents were the two cranes, shown above, I’d seen in that farm’s cattle pen last March before the cattle had arrived.

The two early arrivals had engaged in pair-bond dancing before the snow had completely melted.  I know it’s not unusual for cranes to visit and breed in the same area for many years.  Blogger Christy Yuncker documented the lives of Millie and Roy, a pair of Sandhill Cranes who’d visited her cranberry bog near Fairbanks, Alaska, between 1995 to 2016.  So the idea that “my cranes” were in their home territory didn't seem too farfetched to me.

Back to the present moment, I very much enjoyed watching the parent and juvenile pick at the dregs of corn left behind in the plowed field.  I had to wonder when they would be leaving.  And would they join another large migrating flock, or would they travel as a family?

The juveniles had matched their parents in size, but their heads still retained a youthful, somewhat innocent appearance.  Their crowns were beginning to show a faint red, but their eyes were still yellowish.

The cranes didn’t dance this particular evening, nor did they run from me as they had on some earlier occasions.  It’s a great joy watching these beautiful cranes.  With the migration underway, I feel grateful each time I get to watch and photograph them.  I feel compelled to now end each visit with a little prayer:  Safe Travels, beautiful ones.  Thank you for our time together.  Hope you come back here next spring.