Thursday, May 26, 2022



We all know it’s been a weird spring with stretches of cold weather interspersed with extreme heat.  The result:  trees and flowers blossomed all at once!  When have the daffodils and magnolias bloomed at the same time as apple trees and lilacs?  Look outdoors.  Beauty is happening now.  Enjoy, while it lasts. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022



 It was early Saturday morning when I came to the No Trespassing two-track.  Quiet, with no one around.  The nearby farm didn’t have the usual cars parked outside, and no equipment was in the fields.


 Perhaps motivated from the excitement over my brother’s nesting crane**, I started down.  I admit I felt nervous and even a little guilty.

But I had to know what was in the large tree stand where I’d recently seen eleven cranes.  The area backed up to the cornfields and meadows were I often saw cranes.  Were there wetlands?  Nesting areas?  On I drove.

I didn’t get far when I noticed two cranes at the bottom of the hill ahead of me.  One was preening and the other was heading into the brush.  Could there be a nest?


 Even though I was a respectable distance from them, the cranes spotted me and headed away from the brush, their herky-jerky walk taking them to a nearby meadow. 



With the cranes gone, I started down the two-track again.  The farther I went, the dicier the path got.  Very rutted from large tires, and quite sandy.  Undaunted, with faith in my Subaru, I continued on.


Right away I saw the area was a huge wetland, with lots of small ponds.  A perfect habitat for all kinds of critters, including cranes.



As I got deeper into the haven, I saw trees and marshland throughout.  I didn’t see any nesting cranes, however, which was disappointing.  But the potential was there. 


 I reached the end of the two-track and drove out of the trees and onto a hillside.  The view was lovely on this spring morning and the scene was a testament to why I photograph this farm country over and over again in all seasons.


 As I turned around and headed back through the woods and out of the two-track, I received another gift of the day.  Trillium were in bloom!


 But the wetland habitats and trillium were not the only gifts of the day.  As I emerged unseen from the two-track, three Sandhill cranes were pecking for food in the nearby meadow.  From their coloring, they appeared to be two parents and a young adult crane.


 It was puzzling, however, why the young crane was still with its parents.  Typically crane colts stay with their parents for less than a year, most often nine or ten months, separating after the fall migration.  If the crane remains with the parents through the spring migration, the parents will drive off the youth as they establish their breeding territory.  Guess that hasn't happened quite yet.  Regardless, it doesn't get much better than this!

**If you'd like more information on my brother's nesting cranes, see my Facebook page:  Or visit my brother’s blog for the full story:










Thursday, May 12, 2022



Several consecutive days of sunny forecasts coaxed Gracie and me to one of our favorite Old Mission ridges to witness the sunsets over West Bay.


 Saturday had been a blue sky, not-a-cloud-in-sight kind of day.  The sunset was going to be that way too, I thought.  

Pure, vivid colors cast reflections on the bay.

As the sun sank, the sky colors deepened into hues of reds and golds.  Doesn’t get much better than this.


 We watched a bit of the afterglow too, noticing the progress of a sailboat heading into port from Lake Michigan. 


 Sunday started out sunny, but turned cloudy in the afternoon.  The forecast for the sunset wasn't good, and I considered not going out, until some rays of sunshine hit my yard in early evening.  When I got to the ridge, I could see a solid cloud bank would occlude the sunset.


 With an absence of drama in the sky, I watched a visibly pregnant doe munching on field grasses nearby.  Gracie’s nose twitched continuously at all the smells of the new place.


 As for the sunset, it didn't improve from the narrow strip of pink opening above the horizon to the south of us.  The weather forecast predicted tomorrow night would be better.


 As I drove to the Old Mission ridge on Monday evening, I felt the promise of another good sunset show.  The sun was so bright, it nearly blinded me.  There were a few clouds too, but they often make for more interesting skies so I wasn’t concerned.


 And then, not three minutes later, something happened.  Clouds from above and clouds from below conspired mid-sky to almost totally block the setting sun.  

We watched and waited for the skies to change.  Gracie hung out the car window, her ears flying around with the strong wind gusts that rocked my car on the high ridge.


 But this was as good as it got.  I’ve learned that sunset watching is a lot like a crapshoot.  You never know what’s coming until you get to the watch spot and see what comes up.



Thursday, May 5, 2022



I cracked my eyes open shortly after 6 a.m.  The forecast called for cloudy skies, but it looked like there was going to be a visible sunrise so I got up, took Gracie out and fed her, and headed to the state park beach.  


 By the time we got there, the sun had just risen.  The clouds and sun painted the sky in salmon-colored hues.  I always enjoy being at the beach for a sunrise or sunset. The sounds of waves lapping at the shoreline add atmosphere to the scene.


 We watched for a while and I noticed we weren’t the only ones there.  Steelhead anglers peppered the shoreline trying their luck.  Some were standing in the water to fish while others sat in chairs, their poles set up along the beach. 


 Having captured our sunrise, we headed to farm country to see what was cooking this early in the day.  Almost immediately, we saw two Sandhill Cranes in a yet unplowed cornfield.  One stood tall and watchful.


 The other wandered among the corn stalks searching for its next meal.  The pair must not be breeding yet since it didn’t appear there was a nest to care for.


 Right away I noticed how different the morning sounds were from the late afternoon and evening ones.  Red-wing Blackbirds screeching away versus the low undertone of the peeper chorus.


 I came upon a seasonal road that I hadn’t taken in a while and I hoped it would stay as dry as it appeared from the outset and not be too rutty.  Sometimes in the evening I’ve run into teens racing their ATVs and I hoped it would be a quieter drive in the morning.


 This area is very biodiverse with forests, bogs, and open meadows.  I’ve seen many bird varieties, including hawks, waterfowl such as Great Blue Herons and Green Herons, White-tail deer, and many small critters.  While the bogs were wet, this morning I only saw swaying marsh grass, milkweed, and cattails, all lovely in the morning peace.


 I was lucky enough to sight this doe at the edge of a wooded area.  I wondered whether she had a fawn hidden in the copse of trees behind her.


 Coming out of the seasonal road, I drove my usual farm country route.  I noticed a few fields had been tilled over the past week, although the ground was still very soft and the plow left signs where it had been in the soil.


 The field grasses had also greened up considerably.  Good signs, all good signs as we inch our way into “real” spring.


 As I passed a cornfield next to the meadow where I’d recently seen the lone crane, I spotted it feeding among the dregs.


 It popped up and eyed me as I slowed to take a picture.  Not wanting to disturb its breakfast eating, I moved on.


 I hadn’t gone far when I noticed movement at the end of a long two-track leading into a valley next to a large group of trees.  I’d always been curious about this habitat, but hadn’t ventured into it because of the “no trespassing” sign.  


 But what I saw this morning, made me even more interested.  A sedge of eleven Sandhill Cranes was milling about.  I wondered if they were “local” or were migrating to someplace else.  Breeding or non-breeding.  Regardless, my curiosity had piqued and I vowed to find a way to check this area out in the future.