Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Smiling this week

The week is literally flying by as I smile while watching the spring arrivals at my bird feeders.

Male cardinal, female and male grosbeaks, shot through the living room window complete with reflections.

May 1st was a very very big day, as the first two male Baltimore orioles showed up, brilliant in their orange feathers.

Welcome back Mr. Oriole! We’ve missed you!

Their feeder had only been up one day when they arrived, so perhaps they’ve been around a few days. I hope they didn’t get too hungry waiting for me.

All day today, May 2nd, the oriole feeder has been active, with the beautiful orange birds, plus others who stopped by for a taste.

Energized for takeoff!

Today I saw my first Grosbeaks, two males at my seed feeder fighting each other for space at the table. One finally chased the other off, but then seemed kind of confused.

Waiting his turn at a feeder.

I had his favorite food on the feeder, but he seemed interested in all the activity right next door at the oriole feeder. So he gave that a try.

Hey everyone, there’s desert over here!

Turns out he liked it and sat there tasting for quite some time. And when he noticed me he flew up into the tree to watch…

It’s safe up here to sort out what kind of options I have.

…then sat at the finch feeder eating thistle seed for a long time. He thinks he’s arrived at a smorgasbord. I guess he has.

Hmmmm, this is pretty good too!

And when a bluejay showed up he retreated to another feeder pole to watch the action.

Just resting between courses.

Yesterday I saw the first hummingbird too, checking out the oriole feeder because I hadn’t put up his feeder. I hurried up and got that out and he’s been back today. In fact I just saw him a few minutes ago. No pictures yet, he’s pretty shy.

And of course between the orioles and grosbeaks (a female showed up today too!!) and hummingbirds…

Sharing is hard sometimes.

…I have the usual gold finches and titmice and chickadees and bluejays and blackbirds and cardinals.

And this guy, image caught through the window and a screen.

Good water lady!

What made you smile this week? Tell us your story and link to Trent’s blog so we can all smile with you!

I make everybody smile!


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A photo a week challenge: Rule of Thirds

Nancy Merrill is good enough to post a photo challenge each week. On Thursdays I read her post and file it away in the back of mind in case I run across the perfect fit. Sometimes I find something interesting, lots of times I don’t, but I’m always looking.

This week’s challenge is ‘rule of thirds,’ which means the main point of the image should be resting at the intersection of lines drawn a third of the way across and down the image space.

Tonight I’ve been watching my goldfinches arrive to eat their supper in the pouring rain. I set the camera on a tripod, focused it on the feeder, and then sat across the room with my remote shutter release.

It was a bit of a wait, but finally this big guy showed up. He was hungry, so he hung around long enough for me to get a few nice shots.

And with a bit of cropping he turned into a perfect fit for the rule of thirds. I love the colors of spring, the brilliant green of the grass and the bold yellow of his feathers.

Even with the continuous cold rain this image reminds me of warm summer days to come. I hope you feel warmer too.


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The trees talked to me

On an impulse, and because I’m still working on my 365 days of walks, I took my camera and wandered the woods of my favorite local park. It was later in the day than I’d normally be out there, and though I had seed and peanuts for any bird I ran into, I wasn’t out there to find picture of birds.

An overcast sky couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

I just wanted to be in the woods.

When I arrived two school bus loads of elementary students were milling about. Not a good sign. But luckily they were loading up to go, so I skirted their noisy mass and headed for the trail the furthest away from chaos.

So much texture and color if you just look.

There I began to notice the trees, and it was as if they were speaking directly to me. Who, they said, ever notices them? Most people are out in these woods looking for birds to feed, or deer to watch, or wildflowers nudging up from the wetlands.

Nothing out here but me and the trees.

Who notices our bark, they wonder, our towering stature. Who appreciates the shade we provide or the abstract art our branches draw? Who even takes note of the songs we sing when the wind blows and our branches rub against each other?

Oh wait. Let me take a closer look. I’m feeling watched.

So this post was going to be all about the trees, the different textures and shapes and sounds I experienced while I was there.

Tree art.

It wasn’t going to be about birds or deer or chipmunks or squirrels.

But as I was concentrating on capturing this lovely old log…

Even in death a tree provides nourishment and life.

…I heard from somewhere behind me a gentle cry, almost a soft whining. I looked back to find this little one asking politely if I had something, anything, for him to eat.

I’m sorry to interrupt you, lady, but have you got something for me?

Normally the nuthatches are a little more reticent and don’t come down to my hand until they’ve studied me awhile, until other birds, those brave titmice or the cheeky chickadee have made successful landings. But this little guy was hungry and no one else was around, so he had to be brave.

Thanks lady! Peanuts are my favorite!

And just like that birds began arriving from every direction.

And it was that way the rest of my walk.

Flight paths became crowded.

But along the way I did find other beautiful things. Like these fungus growing along a fallen log.

A bit of green on a cool spring afternoon.

And the last bit of winter color hanging on.

Some red to brighten the landscape.

And as I climbed a hill I ran into these guys.

Three gents out for a stroll, looking for love or lunch, whichever comes first.

Still looking for interesting trees, I turned to walk around the small lake, and was approaching my favorite stand of white pines, rounding a corner, and literally had to stop in my tracks. Because marching down the path toward me were a pair of cranes without a care in the world.

The lunch menu today seems a bit thin, don’t you think honey?

They walked right up to me as I was clicking away, and, without seeming to notice me, walked on by within inches of my hip. This didn’t really surprise me as the cranes here are so used to people. They usually ask for something to eat, but I’m a bit timid about letting them eat out of my hand. So I tossed them a few seeds and moved away to watch.

Aren’t their colors wonderful?

I had to laugh as they moved on down the trail and one of them stopped to stretch.

Awkward!

I continued on my way around the lake, anxious now to get back to the car. I had more than enough photos to choose from for my one photo of the day. And I’d been out there for a couple hours already and had barely walked 2 miles. Couldn’t even count this walk as exercise!

But the surprises weren’t over.

Around a few more corners, almost back to the busiest part of the park, I saw a deer munching on lunch. And behind her was something white. At first I thought it was just something caught in a tree, some trash perhaps.

Or maybe it was a cow.

What you lookin at lady?

A cow? Oh no, not a cow, but the fabled albino deer I’d heard about but never hoped to see. I didn’t get close, and there was a lot of brush and trees between me and it. But oh my.

Be still my heart.

I stood quietly for a very long time, just watching, not wanting to startle it or cause it to run. Eventually I eased myself further away long the path with a huge smile on my face. A once in a lifetime sighting.

So that was my day wandering in the park, talking to the trees and my usual suspects of birds. For a day when I didn’t think I’d see much of anything I sure had some wonderful experiences.

Thinking back on it all I feel, just like Mr. Blackbird, like crowing.

Hello world! Wasn’t this a magnificent day!


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Birding around

I have all these photos, taken during our March 31st snowstorm and now it’s feeling warmer and the snow is long gone and if I don’t post these soon I never will.

Yes, the snow is gone, at least down here in Southeast Michigan. Not to say it won’t be back. But at least we’re not still covered in snow like our friends to the north.

Last week we a were enjoying a beautiful day when I noticed this out my kitchen window…

“Seems a little small, lady. Do you have anything with three bedrooms and two baths?”


…and the next day the view out my kitchen window looked like this:

“Brrrrr….I should have migrated South.”

I spent much of the morning sitting in my nice warm living room taking pictures of frantic birds landing on the feeders.

“It’s a smorgasbord!”

Eventually I put the camera on a tripod, sat on the sofa, and used my phone to release the shutter in order to get these shy gold finches.

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It was so much fun!

I never know exactly what I’m going capture when I’m trying to shoot birds. Sometimes I’m surprised when I download everything and take a look. This one made me laugh.

Take off!

I know professional bird photographers spend hours and hours preparing for a particular bird shoot…and it takes a bit of luck too. I feel pretty lucky that I can sit here and watch all these little guys stop by for a visit.

I hope you enjoyed my birds as much as I do!

If we’re lucky this was the last snowy day around here for awhile.


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Out like a lion or hungry birds

Not surprisingly we had snow on March 31st. This is Michigan after all, where winter doesn’t go quietly.

We only got this much snow, but it sure was pretty!

Oh no, winter around here is much more sneaky than that.

After beautiful days earlier in the week those pesky weather people predicted snow, and they were right. It started Friday evening, by Saturday morning the yard was stunning. And when the sun peeked through the clouds (for only a few minutes, but still) it was spectacular.

A moment of sun early in the morning made it all sparkle.

I told Katie I arranged for snow just for her Gotcha Day. I don’t think she bought it, but she was kind enough not to laugh.

I’d rather not sit here mama, can we go back inside now?

Even she seemed to think it was pretty cold, wet and windy when we toured the yard. She said snow was not enough to get me off the hook for the lack of celebration on her big day. I had to promise something special for later. I think camping might do it, but don’t tell her.

Seriously mama, I’m cold and wet.

Meanwhile the birds were crazy. I have so many cute shots of them crowding around the feeders, that they will have to be in a separate post.

It was crazy around the feeders!

And of course Katie will be posting about her day and her expectations for future adventures. I might be in a bit of trouble there. We’ll see.

Waiting his turn at the feeder. Classy gent.


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Early morning smile

I was thinking yesterday about what this week’s smile might include. Nothing really stood out except that magnificent image I didn’t get of the two cranes flying low across a grassy brown hillside, sun glinting off their wings. And though that made me smile at the time, it’s caused me angst since because I didn’t have my camera with me and it would have been a great shot.

My favorite photogenic trees at Katie’s park early in the morning.

I’ve been to a few parks this week with Katie-girl, she’s enjoying the cool weather, I’m enjoying the lack of snow. Several times I’ve seen pairs of cranes float by. Never had a camera. So one morning this week I decided to go out early by myself. No dog. Just me and my camera to see if I could catch a pair in flight in the rosy morning light.

Don’t tell Katie, but I went to her park. It’s a totally different experience early in the morning and without her. It’s just a little park, with a mowed walkway around the perimeter, nothing special unless you’re a dog. Or a bird seeker.

I saw my first interesting bird as I pulled into the parking lot. A pair of killdeer were hopping along the gravel path. I couldn’t get a nice shot though because he kept turning his back on me.

Trying to ignore me.

Then I noticed my shadow stretched out long in the early morning light and was so busy capturing it that I didn’t notice that robin on the last fence post to the right. He would have made a nice picture, shining red in the sunlight.

Bet you didn’t see the robin either.

By the time I noticed him he flew up into a huge tree and became just about invisible. I guess you have to be alert when you’re out looking for birds, they rarely give you a second chance.

So I headed down the path, noticing the way the sun shone on everything and sort of missing my Katie-girl. A flurry of activity caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.

Flapping his wings for attention.

I ended up with a bunch of really bad pictures of this bluebird couple who were checking out a housing unit together. When I first saw them they were both fluttering around the house opening. The light was bad and I couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder, so I just kept clicking.

He was all hot and bothered, trying to win her favor. As I approached they flew from tree to tree, she’d fly first, he’d follow and perch nearby, flapping his wings, talking all the time to her. She’d hop to the next tree, he’d pursue, not too close, and flap and talk some more.

Showing his true colors in the morning light.

I decided to leave them be, not wanting to be the negative influence that made her reject him and his housing offering. As I moved beyond the birdhouse and then looked back I could see she was standing back on the nesting box.

Maybe she’s made up her mind.

And then she flew to join him at the top of a shrub just across the way.

The loving couple shares a quiet moment together.

I think they’re going to make it.

Seemed wherever I looked somebody was singing loud and clear.

Hard not to notice this guy with his big sound.

And while I was trying to get a shot of a cardinal in the top of another tree there was all sorts of commotion in the pond behind me.

He likes to choose the highest branch to proclaim his territory.

Seems a flock of ducks had gotten into a misunderstanding, and they took off into the bright blue sky to circle around and around the pond, chasing each other, working out the hierarchy for the coming season.

All six landed back on the pond, so maybe this was just an exercise in take offs and landings.

It was hard trying to capture them as they flew in and out of the sun now blazing down on Katie’s little park. But I liked the way they looked against the sky so I kept trying.

And while I was busy with that an insistent bit of chirping and warbling caught my ear. I turned around and this little guy had planted himself quite low in a tree right in front of me.

Now just who are you again?

I’d been trying to get his picture when he was in the tree with the cardinal, but I couldn’t tell what he was, he was just too far away. I guess he wanted his turn in the spotlight because he sat there, proudly puffed up, and chirped away at me.

I moved off to the side trying to determine what he was and he didn’t seem afraid of my moving at all. He just kept singing.

Sing it buddy!

I still don’t know what he is, maybe a song sparrow? Or something else? Once he figured I had enough images of him he nodded his head and flew off to look for breakfast. Cheeky little guy.

So I wandered around a bit more but my fingers were cold and I was happy with what I had. I did hear the cranes a few times while I was out there, their calls always seemed to come from the opposite side of the park, no matter which side I was on.

So, no crane pictures from this adventure, but I’m still smiling. Because when I got back to the car the robin was still singing and this time he let me get the shot.

Did you get my good side lady?

And the killdeer couple was still bopping around, happy on their gravel path and willing to let me grab one more image, this time of the two of them together.

Another happy couple checking out housing options.

I hope all of you had at least one big smile this week. And if it wasn’t a great week I hope the birds here at least made you grin just a little bit.

And someday I’m going to show you the most amazing image of a crane couple gliding gracefully in a blue sky. Makes me smile just thinking about it.