Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Photo surprise

Early Saturday morning, just before the sun made it out of bed, I headed out to a park about a half hour away to meet other photography students and an instructor. We explored the Hawk Woods Nature Center, with it’s large pond and trails.

Then the sun began to push through the clouds.

It was cold, only 44F degrees (6.66C) and I hadn’t dressed warm enough. But I figured once we were moving, and in the woods, I’d be fine. I was wrong.

This park, on this particular day, challenged my belief that there’s always something to photograph. Though there were beautiful purple asters I wasn’t noticing much else in the way of fall color.

If you look closely there’s a bit of color, no matter where you are.

The pond was fringed with tall grasses, making it hard to appreciate. But I did notice this guy sitting across the way when I passed a break in the grass.

Hiding in the grasses.

But still, what else to shoot? The class stopped at a wildflower garden, but I wasn’t really into it, as I have the same flowers in my own yard. So I meandered away from the pond and into the woods.

This path looked interesting.

I am always most comfortable in the woods. Not much color in there, but still, it drew me in.

After a bit of time in the dark green woods I went back to where the group was still concentrating on the flowers. I moved on down the trail that circles the pond, looking for anything interesting.

The sun began to peek out and the grass began to glow.

Brown is a color, right?

If you make this bigger you’ll notice the intricate texture of this dried queen anne’s lace.

Down at the end of the pond I came across a couple fat warblers and a chickadee hopping about in a shrub. I didn’t have the right lens, and while I was changing lenses they flew away. But I was happy to see them.

Not peak color yet, but still pretty.

By now my fingers were freezing, and my broken little finger was aching, a combination of the cold and carrying the camera, so I decided to pack it in. I’m not writing this park off, I think if I had dressed better I’d have stayed and found more pretty things, and given it’s not so far away I will definitely go back.

On the way home I stopped and got a warm drink, trying to make my finger feel better. I stopped at a rest stop along the freeway, to toss the cup when I finished the drink, and as I was getting out of the car I noticed a flurry of activity in the crab apple trees lining the sidewalk.

Could it be my favorite birds? I heard the distinctive excited chirp. My camera already had the long lens attached and was sitting in the passenger seat. My fingers were no longer cold.

I grabbed the camera and crept up to the trees. AMAZING. There were adults…

Notice the yellow feathers at the end of his tail.

…and juveniles.

Notice the stripes on his breast.

I know people stopping at the rest stop thought I was insane as I was creeping around the trees with a big ole camera. But I ignored them, except when they slammed car doors and the birds rose up into the air as one. Then I scowled at the clueless drivers. (Not really, it’s a public rest stop after all.)

Three in this one shot!

There were so many! They’d fly from the trees near the bathroom over to the trees on the other side of the parking lot, and back again.

The trees were beautiful too.

I was having such a great time. And in a rest stop. But I actually squealed when I got home and looked at the images. Because I had captured this:

My favorite shot of the day.

So the point of this post is that there always is something interesting or beautiful or original, or fun to shoot. And you should always have your camera ready to go, because you’re never going to know what you’ll see when you keep your eyes open.

Years of sitting quietly in these woods.

Many thanks to Bob DiTommaso and his wife Juliann for hosting the meetup. If I hadn’t gone and wandered at the park I wouldn’t have stopped for a warm drink and to toss the cup and I never would have seen the cedar waxwings.

Plus I found some pretty things at the park too.

Hungry


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Backyard birds are so much fun to watch

You know I like to go out to Kensington Metropark and hang out with the birds there. But I have to say that my own backyard has some pretty fun sights too. This past weekend I wasted spent quite a bit of time just sitting and watching what was going on right here at home.

See the red bellied woodpecker? Right below her (or him) is the juvenile.

Turns out there is a whole lot going on! In particular I enjoyed watching this red bellied woodpecker feeding his or her youngster. I have to admit I’ve never noticed young woodpeckers before. I don’t know if I’ve just never seen them, or if I mistook them for some other kind of woodpecker.

Here, have a bit of lunch sweetie.

Either way, this was obviously a juvenile being fed by a parent.

The youngster moved to a more open branch and I hoped the parent would feed it there, but being a teenager, the younger bird became impatient and flew off before mom or dad returned with more seed.

Though I wish the leaves of the birch tree they were sitting in hadn’t obscured the youngster’s head I’m still really glad I noticed this action going on just outside my kitchen window.

Well good, the little whippersnapper is gone. I get to eat this seed all by myself!

And of course the hummingbirds. They are really active at the feeder now, perhaps fueling up for their long trek across the Gulf of Mexico this fall.

Is this the only thing on the menu, lady?

Sometimes I’ve seen them over in the zinnia garden too. I can understand the allure of having a fence to sit on while eating.

Yum. WAY better than that empty caloried sugar water she serves at the house.

Kind of like going to a fancy restaurant v.s. a fast food place.

We have lots of goldfinches and titmice and cardinals and all the rest too. They are eating me out of house and seed, but I don’t mind.

This is MY orange, everyone else go find your own.

Seems a small price to pay for all the entertainment they provide.

Incoming!


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We have babies!

There are two bluebird boxes in our yard. Last spring I cleaned out one of them, but hadn’t gotten to the other one when I noticed bluebirds checking it out, so I left it alone. Turns out the bluebirds went with other options and I sadly acknowledged that we didn’t have any tenants this year.

Warning off the human intruder.

Well, I guess I haven’t been paying attention.

For the past couple of days, whenever I wandered around the backyard there would rise up noisy, agitated chatter from the fringes of the yard. Somewhere up in the oak tree, or over in the hydrangea bush was an angry bird, but I could never quite find it.

Everybody OK in there?

Well, this morning I figured out most of the noise was coming from the bluebird house, the one I never got around to cleaning out. A house wren soon swooped up to sit on the roof and tell me off. I retreated to find my camera while she fed her babies who were screaming for their breakfast.

Heading out to gather more insects.

Once outside with my camera I hid in a tree far away and watched mom and dad fly in with insects for the hungry crew. I don’t know how many babies they have, but in this next shot you can see one of the little ones inside.

Click on this to make it larger so you can see inside the nest box.

My new Michigan bird book says they have two broods a year; this is probably the second and last. I’m guessing they had a batch while we were off traveling earlier in the summer. I’m so happy at least one of our rentals had occupants this summer. I think the world could use a few more wrens and I wish our happy brood success as they venture out into it.

It’s hard work being a parent.

Good luck little ones, it was an honor to be your landlord!

Don’t make me come in there!


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The illusive camping birds plus a robin or three

I like site #16 at our local state park because it’s always filled with birds, many of them different than the birds that visit my feeders at home.

A yellow warbler hides in plain sight.

Camping there this week without Katie to distract me or them, I sat quietly through most of a day, camera in my lap studying how they worked the shrubs for food. There was wild cucumber as well as wild grapes winding their vines all over, and though the fruit wasn’t ripe, they seemed to be enjoying it.

I don’t know if this is the same bird, see the black around it’s eye?

This little yellow warbler worked his (or her) way up and down the branches, picking off green fruit as it went.

Giving me the cold shoulder.

I couldn’t get a good image, because it never stayed still, and mostly hid behind at least one layer of leaves. It would pop out for an instant and then be hidden again.

Incoming!

I tried for hours.

While I was concentrating on the little yellow bird I noticed a robin hopping around near my feet. Sometimes he’d stop and stare at me, and I realized I had a big container of blueberries open in front of me.

Hey lady! You got anything good over there?

Did he want one?

Well of course he did! Obviously he has been successful begging campers before.

Nom nom nom

The whole three days I was there a robin stopped by and begged for a treat. I don’t know if it was the same one, but at least once there were several be-bopping around.

Thanks lady!

And I had this visitor, I don’t know what this is, but he (or she) stopped by a couple of times.

He’s got a dark patch on his head that you can’t really see here.

And this one….this one seemed interested in the blueberries and chased a couple of them down when I tossed them his way. But he didn’t eat any of them. I don’t know what he is either.

About the same size as a robin, but slimmer. Maybe because he doesn’t eat blueberries.

At one time there was a perfect shot, he flew up on top of my tent with a small insect in his mouth, but of course my camera was over on the picnic table so I just watched him as he watched me.

Maybe a young something?

None of these bird pictures are great. I have excuses, the light was low, the birds were fast, I didn’t have the right ISO or shutter speed. But it was good practice for me and I’ll try again soon.

Meanwhile if you know what those last two birds are, let me know!

Site #16.


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The upside of weeding

We interrupt our Norway travelog to tell you a sweet story from this afternoon.

I was bent over weeding under our redbud tree, moving slowly because I’d been weeding for awhile and standing up was getting more and more difficult.

I heard a ruckus above me, a sort of chirping chattering noise that continued for quite awhile. I figured it was a squirrel unhappy with me being under his tree.

Whatever it was kept it up to the point that I sort of looked back and up over my shoulder, trying to find the annoying perpetrator.

And, instead of a noisy little red squirrel I saw a downy woodpecker, standing on the main truck about three feet from my head. “Well hello there,” I said, wondering if the birdfeeder was empty and this little guy (or girl) was trying to tell me something. We locked eyes and I slowly stood up. The bird just moved down the trunk, getting even closer to me.

And then I realized the noise wasn’t coming from this bird, but another downy, almost the same size, sitting out at the end of a branch just a few feet further from me.

The bird on the tree trunk began to move up and down, looking, then picked out something special and flew to the bird at the end of the branch who opened his mouth obligingly for the snack. Then mama (or daddy) flew back to the truck to look for more.

The teenage bird was fed two more times with me standing right there and then the adult flew off and the youngster followed.

I loved that the two of them weren’t bothered by me being there, and I had to share it with you. I don’t have pictures, but you can imagine it. The images here are from our gardens, taken today.

I didn’t take any pictures of the weeds.


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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!