Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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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.

Magic.

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.

Incoming!

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.

Guaranteed.

And a barn.


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When all you can do is take a walk

I was lucky enough to get my first covid vaccine yesterday. Health workers at the clinic were congratulating people as they were being injected. The air crackled with optimisim. I felt optimistic too.

Hey everybody, what’s that up there?

But this morning, with a very sore arm and unable to sleep I began to scroll through Facebook. I got tangled up in reading about Georgia’s new voting rules, put into effect by it’s governor yesterday. Feelings of optimisim began to fade.

I know I’m beautiful.

This isn’t going to be a political post, suffice it to say I don’t see how these new rules can be viewed as anything but voter supression. But I know there are others out there with different opinions.

Anyway. I got so depressed scrolling that I finally just up and left the house. I wasn’t sure where I’d go, but I ended up where I usually go when I’m needing some alone outside time.

I really want to come get a treat, but I’m too cool to sit on your hand.

We had torrential rains this morning, but the rain was letting up as I got to Kensington. Because the weather had been so bad there were very few other people there. The wind was brisk, the air heavy with the last of the rain.

It was cold.

I kind of felt like I shouldn’t head out on a hike around the lake. After all, what would I see? But I dug out my hat and gloves and, putting my head down, headed out anyway. Going home didn’t seem a good option.

The titmouse grabs a treat while Mr. ‘too cool to sit on your hand’ watches.

And I’m glad I went for that walk. Pictures here are straight from the camera today, none are edited. They aren’t anything you haven’t seen from me before, but they are a few of my favorites, and the reason I began to smile even in the rain, even with my sore arm.

Well hi there!

Even if the country still seems terribly divided, even if covid is spiking in my state again.

And by the time I left the park four hours later the sun was breaking through the clouds and the sky was blue. I even put my gloves back in my pocket.

Cutest little titmouse ever!

Kensington succeeded at raising my spirits, as it always does. I hope each of you has a place like this to go when you have a bad day. And if you don’t, I hope these images help just a little.

I’m happy to share them with you.

Turns out it was a beautiful day!


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Smiling in between

In between the Atlanta mass shooting and the Boulder mass shooting I spent a wonderful day wandering in the woods at the Shiawasee Nature Preserve. I was one of only 3 people out there enjoying the acres and acres of wetlands, old dykes, ponds, trees, and birds.

Lots and lots and lots of birds.

I don’t have editing capabilities right now, so no cropping, no lightening of shadows. No enhancements of any kind. I have so many pretty things to show you from this walk.

Later, I promise.

For now, here’s one image straight from the camera, of a tree and it’s eight eagles of assorted ages.

This is as close as I could get to them. I need a longer lens. Still, when is the last time you saw eight eagles enjoying a morning sunbath?

Me either.

So that walk was my smile of the week. Thank you, Trent, for keeping us grounded in smiles while we navigate these times.


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This week’s noisy smile

It’s been a crazy winter, right? Some parts of our country have seen snow where no snow is expected. Other parts are flooding, or fighting wildfires. I think we’ll all be glad to say goodbye to this winter, and for me, the first true sign that spring is right around the corner is the sound of the red-winged blackbird.

Hmmmmm…this peanut looks good.

It’s a distinctive cry that I haven’t heard around my house yet this year. Other people, not so far away from me, are hearing them already and have for awhile. My Facebook memories say that it was on this date when I heard them first last year.

I’ll just fluff myself up and let out my best territory protection scream. I’m sure the girls will be flocking to me in no time.

Today it’s too windy to hear much of anything here, but yesterday was a beautiful morning and I headed out to Kensington where I almost always find something beautiful or exciting or just fun.

I’ve picked out the perfect patch of cattails to build our home. Now I just need to find the perfect sweetie.

I found all of that in the massive flocks of red-winged blackbirds all screeching for a mate, while flocking to food, hanging on to swaying cattails, or flying up into trees to sing even louder. Their combined sound was almost overwhelming.

I can’t find the ladies anywhere! And trust me, I’ve looked!

But it sure made me smile!

I guess I’ll just keep singing.


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Sunshine smile

Late January, here in the Midwest, we don’t always get to see a lot of sun. It’s cold, sometimes windy, usually snowy, but not often very sunny.

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle in Detroit.

So last Saturday, when the weather people were actually right about the fact we had sun, I knew I didn’t want to squander it. But I also wasn’t sure I wanted to go to my regular parks, they would likely be overrun with people just like me, out to catch a few rays, on the lookout for something spectacular to photograph.

This pair was pulling up lunch from the bottom of the pond.

I’ve been seeing in a Michigan wildlife Facebook group that there were special things down on Detroit’s Belle Isle. I figured there was more space there, and maybe fewer people, so I decided to see what I could find.

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.

The color in these images haven’t been touched up, it really was a spectacular blue sky with lovely soft light making everything glow.

Detail of Belle Isle Casino

And it was busy. Most of the parking spots on the western part of the island, the part which gives you the best view of the Detroit skyline, were full. That’s OK, I just parked further away and walked back.

Detroit, with Ambassador Bridge to Windsor on the left.

It felt good to be outside walking around.

I drove around the perimeter of the island several times, catching glimpses of things I wanted to photograph, and stopping back to capture things on my next round. I didn’t feel like I was taking a lot of pictures, but I was pleased with those I got.

Saw this bridge out of the corner of my eye, stopped for a photo the next time around.

Did I ever find the special image I was looking for? Well, yes, yes I did.

For some time I’ve been reading about a pair of bald eagles that live on the island, but I’ve never driven the hour down to Detroit to see for myself. On this beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon this guy was hard to miss.

This is the guy I drove all the way to Detroit to see.

My first clue was the number of cars parked on both sides of the road. The second clue was the brilliant white head and tail feathers, just glowing in the afternoon light.

He was very good about posing for us down below.

I and a couple dozen of my closest photographer friends spent 30 minutes or so watching him watch us. He would look to his left, to his right or straight down at us, but he never moved a wing. When a kid skidded a rock across the glassy ice below him he watched with interest, but he wasn’t fooled into thinking it was anything but a rock.

“You people need a different hobby!”

I was smiling the whole time I stood there…and even now, just thinking about him being amused by all of us makes me smile again. The only thing that would make me smile wider is if I were to buy myself a bigger, longer lens.

Yep. That would surely make me smile.

What’s made you smile this week? Write a post and link it to Trent’s. He’ll gather them all together and post a recap on Monday. We could all use a smile, share yours!

Nancy Brown Pearce Carillon.


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Birding in a pandemic

I think I’d be happy spending the majority of my days photographing birds. Or trying to anyway. And I’m lucky that, even with the pandemic keeping us home more, I still have lots of birds to study, right in my own backyard.

I get a lot of images like this. Not intentionally.

Of course I am frustrated by reflections in windows, and sheltie girls that move just as I’m getting that shot, disrupting the carefully posing feathered ones.

The male cardinals get so much attention, but if you really look, the females are just beautiful.

I’ve tried to get around the sheltie interruption by sneaking past her when she’s sleeping, but it sure seems like she only closes one eye lately and she’s always up to see what I’m focused on. She assumes there’s trouble outside if I spend too much time at the window, and she feels a responsibility to handle it for her mama.

Look at all the different colors she carries around with her.

And of course I’d love to be outside with the birds, not shooting through a window, and I’ve tried that. The birds aren’t too frightened if I stand in the far corner of the deck and stay still. I’m sure they’d get used to having me around and come down from the trees when I put out fresh food if I keep trying.

A dancing chickadee comes down for an irresistible peanut.

But then again, there’s the sheltie-girl who puts up a howl when I’m outside and she’s not. So more sneaking around might be in order.

OK, the guys are pretty too. It’s just that they’re so OBVIOUS about it.

Once I tried taking her with me out on the deck and only the chickadees would tolerate her. Plus she doesn’t know how to stand still. She’s a princess you know, and a princess does not stand in the corner.

My first time seeing a Carolina wren at my feeder. She (I decided it’s a she) was sooooo cute!

And I’m thinking about getting a longer lens so I don’t have to crop so much. So much detail is lost, and so many interesting things are just outside the reach of the lens I have, though it’s a very nice lens.

Lots of people don’t like these starlings, but just LOOK at the color!

Still. I have so much fun trying. I’m pretty sure you don’t mind looking at my birds either, right?

This little guy used to be shy but now he’s one of my vocal visitors. Especially if the feeders are empty.

Katie says she thinks you’d rather look at her, and that might be so, but this is not called Katie’s blog, so once in awhile I think we have to focus on something else.

Now this is another prevalent bird…er….how did HE get in this series?

But don’t tell her that, I don’t need a mutiny here at home. Especially during a pandemic.

So much fun to watch!


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Multiple smiles

Even if you don’t live in the United States you might have heard that this was a very big week here. Yes, Wednesday was Inaugural Day, where we had a peaceful transition of power between Presidential administrations, based on the November election. You probably also know that this year it wasn’t so easy because the former President never conceded that he lost the election.

But this post isn’t about all that controversy. It’s about things worth smiling about.

My first broad smile on Wednesday was also laced with tears, as I watched the honor guard salute Kamala Harris as she walked with her husband toward the West Front of the Capital where she would be sworn in as Vice President. The fact that they were saluting her made me realize the importance of the moment. I was witnessing history.

Smile one.

Then there was the President’s speech, full of hope even as we face huge challenges, politically, racially and from the virus. So many things that need immediate attention. I smiled a few times while he spoke, but I smiled the deepest when he said:

“Let’s begin to listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”

I think this is key to our moving forward as a nation. I don’t think it will be easy, we’ve all pretty much entrenched ourselves in our respective views. But suppose, just for a moment, that we could try to put what we believe aside and ask pertinent questions and then listen to the answers from those that think differently from us. Just suppose what we might be able to accomplish.

Smile two.

And of course there’s Amanda Gorman, America’s Youth Poet Laureate. She radiated fire and hope and possibility and made me smile as soon as she stepped up to the lectern. She was spellbinding, both her words and her movement making their points so fast I was afraid I was missing something and I focused in a way I haven’t for a very long time.

I read her poem in full the next day and realized I had indeed heard every bit of it, but it’s something I think we’d all do well to read periodically. There’s something to be learned and understood in her words. Right now my favorite lines:

“Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished”

“That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division”

“A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation”

And of course the end…

“The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it”

Yes, Amanda Gorman made me smile, through tears I admit, the broadest of all. Because she represents the future of our country. And just see what we have to look forward to!

Smile three.

And then, as just a bit of an extra smile this week, a Carolina wren landed on my feeder this morning.

Just to make sure my week kept on smiling.

What made you smile this week? Write a quick post and link it by Sunday to Trent’s blog so we can all smile together!