Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Working on the backlog


Husband bought me a new camera lens for my birthday. No it’s not my birthday yet, he’s just an early shopper. I have all sorts of ideas about where I should go to try it out, but I’ve been reigning myself in because I had hundreds of images waiting to be processed while I struggled with my editing function.

As the sun came up in the east, the birds began to move.

Or lack thereof.

But now I’m back on a roll and I’ve spent a couple hours (OK more) sorting through the hundreds of images I have of my last trip to the Shiawasee National Wildlife Refuge a couple weeks ago. (I think you’ll enjoy these images more if you’re looking at them on a large screen.)

Looking to the west, with the sun rising behind me, the meadows began to glow. And more birds flew overhead.

You got to see a few of the images, straight out of the camera, in a previous post. And to be honest most of these images didn’t need much editing other than cropping to get closer to the interesting stuff.

The refuge is just over an hour away from me and I like to get there prior to sunrise, because, especially when the birds are migrating, there is so much noise and movement in the early morning moments.

A kingfisher came to sit right above me, surveying the water below.

The first time I visited I was about 30 minutes too late. That morning I could see waves of sandhill cranes flying away while I was driving down the last road, still about half a mile away. This time I got there half an hour before sunrise.

Way cropped and shot in low light, so quite noisy, but look at his colors! He caught breakfast right in front of me.

When I first got out of the car at the parking lot the sky was relatively quiet, and I wondered if I had missed them again. But moments later…well…it was incredible.

Just two of hundreds.

I stood in the parking lot watching wave after wave of noisy sandhill cranes fly by. I began to wonder how so many large birds could be sleeping in the refuge, and where in the world they were all going.

As the sun came up the undersides of the birds, the cranes, geese and ducks began to glow.


It was pretty wonderful, and I hadn’t even left the parking lot yet. In fact I thought if that was all I did, stand in a parking lot, watching and listening to these birds, that was enough to make me smile.

Follow the leader.

Finally I made myself move on, though the birds were still flying overhead. And not far down the road I saw this group beginning it’s morning stroll. I loved how the electrical lines and the fur on some of their ears glowed with the early light.

There were about a dozen of them.

The further into the refuge I got the higher the sun rose. My objective was to get to the viewing platform, two miles from the parking lot, sometime before lunch. 🙂 I don’t move along very fast when I have my camera.

Loud singing added to the morning din.

Last fall when I was here the waterways were filled with ducks, but this time the waterways were pretty quiet. Still, the reflections were pretty stunning.

Reflecting as I walked.

And I could hear the cranes out in the open wetlands. So I moved along.

I don’t know what this tree was, but the chickadee was eating parts of the buds.

On the way I met a man coming back who pointed out a tree, surrounded by water, where eight eagles of assorted ages were sunning themselves. If he hadn’t pointed it out I never would have seen it.

A perfect place to enjoy the sun.

It wasn’t on the way to the viewing stand, but it was worth the extra walk to go out on a dike to get the best shot I could. My lens wasn’t long enough to get close, so some of these shots are pretty cropped. But you get the idea.

Such huge birds!

They watched me walk out on that dike across from them, and eventually the two mature adults and a couple of the kids flew off to another tree, further away. A couple of the teenagers weren’t bothered by me and hung out in the tree. You know how teenagers are.

We’re out of here, lady!

After the eagle adventure I made my way back and then on to the viewing platform. From there I could see across the wetland.


There were hundreds of sandhill cranes and ducks and seagulls out there, and wave after wave of them coming in for a landing.

It was pretty noisy.

Move over, I’m coming in!

Again I wasn’t really close enough, nor did I have a big enough long lens (though that would have been pretty heavy to carry all the way back there!) so these are really cropped. But take these images and expand them by 10 and you’ll get the idea what it was like. Everywhere there were cranes.

I saw this flock of male woodducks too.

And on the other side of the dike, in a body of water, were swans.

Swans flying west, cranes flying east.

It was all pretty amazing. I stood there a long time taking picture after picture, all of them, it turns out, pretty much the same, but it felt like I was in a snowglobe with cranes rather than snow filling the air.

I didn’t see any beavers, but obviously they were somewhere around.

I wish you all could come with me when I go back there some day. You never know what you’ll see. It probably won’t be filled with cranes (I don’t think) but there will be something else interesting.

Such a beautiful place.


And a barn.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

37 thoughts on “Working on the backlog

  1. What a fabulous place and what beautiful pictures. I was especially taken with the photos of the sandhill cranes. Oh, my!


  2. The photos you posted last week were great. I didn’t expect these to be significantly better. Boy, was I wrong!
    I’m so glad you’re willing to get your butt out of bed to get shots like that. Otherwise, some of us would never know how beautiful things are in the early morning. Thanks for posting them, so some of us lazy-butt people get to share your smiles!


  3. Soooo many wonderful images. The deer in the light- what a beautiful photo- the bird with breakfast- a stunner! Thank you for sharing. Dawn!


  4. That looks like a wonderful place. Great set of pictures. Can’t wait to hear more about your new lens.


  5. Sounds like a wonderful adventure and you took a lot of great photos, cropped or not. I do carry my telephoto everywhere with me, even on the kayak! But I am looking into a new, better one…

    Hope you can make it back there soon!


    • I have only taken my phone, encased in a plastic thingy that hangs around my neck, when I go out in the kayak. I’d like to feel confident enough to take the good camera!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My camera is supposed to be “splash proof”, but I know salt water isn’t good! On the other hand, I do not bring my cell phone with me. And, I’ll admit, my camera, with telephoto lens, is a brick around my neck as I paddle, but I’ve been doing it for at least 10 years, so…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Have there been times you are grateful you had the camera because you saw something amazing that you were able to capture? There have been plenty of times I’ve wished I had my camera with me….but I don’t know if there was anything so amazing that would be worth lugging it….I don’t know…

          Liked by 1 person

        • A lot of the best photos I post are from the kayak – all of the seal photos, a lot of the osprey photos, including catching fish, a lot of the egret photos, etc. Of course when I don’t carry the camera I see all types of things 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  6. What gorgeous photos – you had a perfect day! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  7. “A snow globe with cranes” is a great description of what you saw. Your photos are so sharp and clear. I like them all.


  8. Oh my goodness, so many birds!! You had a beautiful day to get out and about, and I’m glad I could join you vicariously. It looks like you’re getting the hang of this now, and I know that’s a relief. Love the chickadee in that unidentified tree (sorry, I don’t know what it is either!)


    • I love that chickadee too. I also have one of him hanging upside down, I posted that on FB in a Michigan WIldlife group. I have the basics figured out but haven’t figured out how to size the images any smaller than really big yet. Also the tagging is problematic, as I have to come up with my own v.s. looking at a list of tags I’ve used before.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your photos just keep getting better and better. Go, you! Some miles south of my home in the southern part of this state there is a large wildlife refuge that we used to go visit in the spring as the cranes, ducks, geese, swans and eagles would be coming in. Always glorious, always exciting to see what you could see. And closer to home was another wetlands area where the pelicans and other water birds would gather. I loved going, walking, and photographing, but I never got captures as wonderful as yours.


  10. She’s back!!! Hallelujah!


  11. Wow, Dawn: Wow! Hard to beat that early morning light, that golden hour, the sunrise–all that light. Golden birds flying–cranes and geese–lovely captures! And the chickadee, looks great even when I enlarge it in a new tab, crisp! The kingfisher–oh my! The deer–such a perfect place for them to pose for you.
    I always enjoy how well you *see* things when you’re out for a walk. I, also, have trouble covering much distance when I go for a “hike” intending to cover ground and get some exercise, but also take my camera intending to get some photos–,wait! Rocks! Flowers! Grass! Trees! Sky! Sometimes birds… Water! Mud! Footprints! You inspire me, as always.
    “And a barn.” Cracked me up! Of course a barn.
    I think I’ve missed the sandhill cranes again this year out in the Central Valley–lots of places to see them only a couple of hours from here, but not sure whether the areas are even open. But–I didn’t check, either.
    What lens did your honey give you?


    • He gave me the Nikon Z version of the 70-200 that I had before. He’s also ordered something that will take it to 400, but that’s still on backorder. I look forward to getting that.


  12. Dawn–these are beautiful. All the birds against that gorgeous blue sky… lovely. What ISO were you using? Or were you using Aperture mode?


    • Definitely using aperture mode…ISO changed depending on the light. Let me go see what I was using… In the early morning birds in flight, the ISO was 4000, as the sun came up it went down to 2000. Later on, when the sun was up and I was out of the woods the ISO was more like 400. If I was trying to get a bird in flight I’d up the ISO until the shutter speed was 1/2000.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a magical place!! I Love the snow globe description as I’ve been around flocks of birds before and it does feel like that. You are so lucky to see so much all in one place! Thank you for sharing your BEAUTIFUL photos! ❤️❤️❤️


  14. I take a lot of pics and I use LR but one of the last ones you could buy the actual program works fine for me. I am good about getting the images into LR I am horrible about organizing my images but I am good about deleting the bad ones. Right now there are over 6000 in my LR catalog. I need to set up so all my images go directly to an external drive it is easy to do but I never do it lol. Love the pics. What lens did you get?


  15. My favorites … “Reflecting” and the two sandhill cranes. I know I’m late with this comment, but I know you’ll read it. 🙂 I gotta catch up!


  16. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap for 4/5 – 4/11/2021 #weeklysmile | Trent's World (the Blog)

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