Thursday, July 29, 2021



Feeding the birds and then watching them fly in to eat is one of my favorite hobbies.  They give me hours of enjoyment from my study as I write, read, and work from my desk.


 I have three feeders off my deck.  Two are seed feeders and the other is a seed cylinder, usually filled with a cranberry mix.  Because my bird visitors are commonplace, I rarely photograph the birds for my blog…unless something special comes along.


 One of my favorite summer visitors is the Chipping Sparrow.  It comes north to breed in the warm months  and then returns to Texas, Mexico, Florida and other parts south for the winter.


 I find the Chipping Sparrow’s appearance striking.  While it’s black-streaked back is ordinary, its cap is described as rufous, meaning a reddish brown in color.


 Monday afternoon a young visitor perched on my deck railing.  Fortunately, I had my camera out because I’d been practicing on the birds getting better exposures.  I wasn’t sure what this bird was, but had an idea.


 Almost immediately, a parent Chipping Sparrow arrived to feed the youngster.  I’m not sure the exact age of the young one, but I’d put it at the fledgling stage.  While it could fly for short distances, it still relied on its parents for support, especially with feeding.


 It was adorable to watch the touching feeding process.  I could see the coloration of the fledgling's feathers matched the adults, although the rufous cap has yet to come in.


 The two birds next took a short flight to the feeders.  The fledgling seemed uncomfortable at first.  As you can see from the tail showing below the feeder, the parent was on the backside.


 The parent bird hopped around to the front, while the fledgling looked at it longingly.  I wondered if it had learned to take food on its own yet.


 I got my answer right away, as the young one opened its mouth to take some food.  It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of nestlings, all with their mouths open.  The chipping sparrow typically lays two to five blue green eggs.  I was curious whether this fledgling had siblings.


 Along with my finches, the Chipping Sparrows visit my feeders often.  I can see why now, with at least one youngster to feed and get strong enough for the long migration south in the fall.


Thursday, July 22, 2021



 I had a dear friend visiting from Lansing.  She and her husband are thinking of moving to Traverse City, and she came up to scout out some neighborhoods.  We headed out in the evening for our “drive-around.”


 It was windy and blowing, bending the tall corn stalks horizontal.  A marine alert came on our iPhones.  We talked about whether we should head back but decided to continue on.  Even though the skies were threatening, I wanted to show her the farm country where I photograph critters.


 I pulled into my regular two-track, expecting to see my two Sandhill Cranes.  And they were there, scurrying across the field in the wind.


 Typically, I see them stop and peck for food when they’re out, but on this night they kept moving through the field of wildflowers.  I wonder if they felt threatened by the storm too.


 As they neared the hilltop, one crane slowed down and I got a nice close-up.  Its tail feathers were ruffling in the stiff wind.


 As they reached the hilltop, for some reason they relaxed and began their normal behavior, with one pecking for food while the other watched.  I would’ve thought they’d be more anxious out in the open under threatening skies.


 As we left the two-track, I caught sight of some cattle grazing on a far hillside above a tall cornfield.  It made for a pretty scene.


 We drove on and I almost drove by a field where four cranes were feeding, two adults and their two colts.  It was a good lesson in the color differences between the young ones and their parents.



Not happy with our presence, the four cranes moved toward the far end of the field, an area that probably gave them a stronger sense of safety.  I was delighted to see the first young ones of the season.


 It was getting dark so we headed out of farm country but not before our last treat of the evening.  A doe and her two fawns were feeding on a corner hillside.  One fawn was smaller and was tucked behind her mother so we didn’t get a good view of it.  It was still a fruitful evening of wildlife viewing.






Thursday, July 15, 2021



The rose is one of my favorite flowers.  It’s the national flower too.  In my younger days, I’ve had several rose gardens.  They required fairly intensive upkeep with spraying, pruning, and protecting them from the harsh Michigan winters.


I loved photographing these hybrid teas from all different angles and distances.  They can be an art form, especially with close-up shots.


While roses come in so many colors, I tend to favor pinks, peaches, and yellows versus the reds that are so popular.


 There is a new trend in rose horticulture and that is the use of groundcover roses.  These roses are low to the ground and make stunning displays when grouped together or with other shrubs and flowers.



These roses aren’t made for delicate close-up shots, but to be viewed from a distance, more holistically.


 Groundcover roses are much more low maintenance flowers.  They are known to be self-cleaning, meaning the spent flowers will regenerate themselves without having to dead-head them.


 Like tea roses, they come in a variety of brands and colors.  Drift roses are my favorites, and they come in nine different colors.


 Groundcover roses are meant to be planted,  but they can also be grown in pots.  They make a lovely addition to a patio or deck.


 For me, and my aging knees, this trend in roses is wonderful.  I can still enjoy my favorite flower, but without all the intensive work that roses typically need.


 Groundcover roses add just a splash of color here and there, much like Stella D’Oro Daylilies do.  Plant them, let them spread, and sit back and relax, enjoying their beauty.


Thursday, July 8, 2021



Lilies are one of my favorite flowers.  I love their vibrant colors!  I imagine there are some things you didn’t know about lilies, though.
    •    They have a long vase life.
    •    Some lilies have freckles.
    •    Lilies are poisonous to cats.
    •    In China, lily bulbs are considered superfood.
    •    Calla lilies and water lilies are imposters; they're not really part of lily family.

Enjoy the images below of the lilies I photographed.  It was fun driving all over the city to seek out the various colors of this lovely flower.




Thursday, July 1, 2021



I was out taking pictures of the beautiful summer flowers and realized I’d never photographed hostas for my blog.  These shade-tolerant beauties are typically green, but some appear blue or gold, and other have variegation too.  They come in a variety of sizes from 6” to three feet tall.  They make a great background plant to show off more colorful varieties.  When I lived in the woods in Northport, I learned that the deer enjoyed the hostas as much as I did.  It was not uncommon to find them chewed on or even gone, thanks to the deer’s hearty appetites.