Thursday, February 24, 2022



I typically don’t think of birds by their category.  But when I got a new Crossley ID Guide, which groups birds by categories, I realized much of my winter shooting has been of raptors.  Also known as birds of prey, raptors hunt and feed on vertebrates.  Their name comes from the Latin word rapio, which means to take by force.


 One raptor I’ve been photographing is the Bald Eagle.  Most raptors are know for their keen eyesight, strong feet with talons used for grabbing prey, and curved beaks for tearing the flesh of their prey.  The eagle certainly fits these characteristics.



The Snowy Owl is another bird of prey I’ve been taking pictures of.  While the Snowy and other owls certainly look different from other raptors, they have a predatory lifestyle and physical characteristics of the hooked beak, talons, and keen eyesight.


 But if there is one bird of prey that epitomizes the raptor, it is the hawk.  For me, hawks are one of the hardest birds to identify with certainty.  I have sometimes confused them with juvenile bald eagles.  The greatest difference between the two birds is size, though, with the eagle being much larger than the hawk.  Further confusing the matter is that there are only 60 species of eagles while there are over 200 species of hawks.


 One common year-round hawk in our area is the Red-tailed hawk, of which there are several varieties that are highly variable in body plumage.  I think this bird is a juvenile Red-tail.  It also is similar to the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk and the Broad-winged hawk.  When these species are young, some of their strong identifying features haven’t yet appeared, making certain identification even more challenging.


 I sat pulled off to the roadside for quite a while watching this hawk scour the field below for its next prey.  It watched in all directions, including keeping an eye on me, my long camera lens, and that white fluffy dog hanging out the window.


 Occasionally, the hawk would ruffle its feathers.  I was pretty sure it was going to take off in flight.  Then it stood and raised its hind feathers.  Here we go, I thought.  A chance to capture a bird in flight!


 Oh, my!  It looks like it had another kind of business to take care of.  


 Having finished with “that” personal issue, the hawk gracefully lifted off the utility pole.  I watched it soar throughout the sky.  It seemed to be enjoying the flying and gave no indication it was on the hunt for some kind of prey.


 Several times the hawk returned to the pole, and scoped out the field below, including the watchers in the blue Subaru.


After a brief rest on the pole, the hawk took to the air again.  Not once did I see it head towards the ground to snatch up a critter.  It must’ve been a good day for just relaxing and soaring.  I guess we all need times like that. 

FINAL KNEE UPDATE:   It was January 8 when I took these hawk photographs, two days before my right knee replacement surgery.  It’s been six weeks Monday since that surgery and I continue to do well.  Walking better, hardly any pain, no drugs, and increasing the time on my exercise bike.  My official physical therapy has concluded although I continue my home program.  Hopefully, when the weather improves and the roads clear, I’ll be able to get outside for some walking and biking.  For now, I’m moving on from knee updates to getting back outside with my camera.  Oh, how I’ve missed those drives!  A final thank you for all your good wishes, emails, calls, and notes.




Thursday, February 17, 2022



I get most of my photography ideas from driving around and seeing what’s out there.  But sometime this fall, the blog for Digital Photography School had a weekly challenge topic:  abandonment.  Take pictures that represent abandonment.  I ran with the idea, headed to the boonies, and these images are what I came up with on that theme.  They were taken over the course of a few weeks, fall going into winter, which explains the changing weather among them.  



NEW KNEE UPDATE:  Progress continues with less discomfort, better movement, and having an easier time with range of motion on my exercise bike.  I’m able to get into the cycling rotation faster and have been able to add minutes to the time on my bike.  I’m dreaming of heading to the countryside soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2022



Bald Eagles are common in our area due to their fondness for lakes, rivers, and bays, where they fish for catch themselves.  Their talons and powerful bills are perfect for grasping slippery prey and breaking through the tough skin of fish.


 But eagles also migrate here from their breeding grounds across Alaska to Newfoundland.  It’s during this migratory period that I’ve seen eagles in farm country too, far from regular water sources.  A family of four has inhabited one particular area for the past few years.


 But this year, I’ve only seen one adult eagle there.  They’ve been drawn to this particular area because farmers and the road commission have dropped road-killed deer onto the barren corn fields.  Deer carcasses are one of the eagles’ favorite winter prey but when left by the roadside, many eagles can be hit by cars as they feed.


 I drove on and spotted another Bald Eagle in a large tree overlooking a field where I’d not seen them before.  Their iconic shape and white head have made them easy to sight, even from a distance.


 Majestic, stately, exalted, stunning.  What more can describe these American icons!! 


 Around the block in another field of corn dregs, I spied two more eagles, both of which were young.  This subadult was probably a two year old as its feathering was predominantly brown.  Even at this young age, it was ferocious-looking.


 It took to the air, flying low across the field.  Did it have something in its sight?  Getting a look at its underside confirmed it was probably a second-year, due to the amount of white on its belly.


 The last Bald Eagle I spotted was another juvenile, this one a third year bird from the amount of white feathers coming in on its head.  I couldn’t help but wonder if these four eagles were part of the one family I’d seen in prior years in the road-kill field. Perhaps, they were all taking independent hunting trips of their own that afternoon.   And yes, I’m anxious to get out there and see for myself. 

NEW KNEE UPDATE:  I continue to make good progress with my new knee.  I’m totally off narcotics and only take Tylenol rarely for discomfort after physical therapy.  This week I was able to get on my recumbent exercise bike and, for the first time, I had the range of motion to make full revolutions with the pedals.  That was huge progress for me.  Also working on refining my gait.  With so many years of “bad-knee” walking, I’m trying to develop a normal gait.  

Thursday, February 3, 2022



For those who follow my blog, you know I typically don’t get up early enough to catch the sunrise.  You’re in for a real treat today, as I have an expert on sunrise photography.  Please welcome, Barbara Trippe.

Barb:  My name is Barb and I’m a friend of Karen’s and a lover of sunrises.  I’m fortunate to live on Grand Traverse Bay and have sunrises to photograph everyday.  I often use my IPhone but have used my IPad and camera, whichever is charged and at hand.  The sunrises are glorious and provide incredible memories of the start of my day.  I’m an amateur photographer but you can hardly go wrong with what nature provides.

Karen:  Thank you for these glorious sunrise images, Barbara.  I am amazed at the interplay of clouds and sun in them.

NEW KNEE UPDATE:  It was three weeks this past Monday since I got my new right knee and I'm seeing real progress.  I'm off narcotics completely and am managing what discomfort I have with Tylenol.  Yes!  My physical therapy is going well and I'm transitioning from my walker to my walking stick. (Who would want to call it a cane?)  In small areas of my home, I feel very comfortable walking without any assistance.  The most exciting part of yesterday's PT was learning to get in and out of my car.  I even took a few block jaunt around my neighborhood.  Progress!