Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


A long drive for a little walk

Earlier this week I decided to visit Chippewa Nature Center up in Midland. That’s about a two hour drive for me, but I kept seeing beautiful photos on a Facebook group of birds and animals that were taken there, and I’d never been. So, since I had one day free and the weather wasn’t too horrible, I decided to buzz up there and see what I could see.

I almost didn’t put tights on under my jeans before I left, and I’m so glad I did because it was much colder up there and the wind was blowing. Great. Once I arrived I studied the map at the parking lot trying to figure out where the trailhead was. It wasn’t very clear, so I wandered a bit and ended up on a paved path designed for preschoolers. The little trail looped around a school. This was the only picture I took.

Preschoolers dressed for winter fun.

Then I went and figured out where the adult trails were, but they were covered in ice and even though I had my Yax grippers with me I didn’t think it looked very fun to creep along the ice on a trail that I had never been on before. Alone.

So I decided to come back another day, after things thawed out a bit. But because I was very near the Midland Park where I had once seen eagles, I stopped by on my way home. No eagles were flying, but I did see two eagles on their nest. Unfortunately the nest isn’t anywhere close to parking, so no pictures. But still cool.

And then, on the way home, having taken only one picture (unheard of for me!) I decided since I was driving right past, I’d stop at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite place of mine. I was hoping I would find eagles on the nest I’d seen last time I was there.

On the road out to the refuge I had to stop to shoot this barn. I’ve loved it before, but it was especially pretty with the light that morning.

It’s the tree that makes this barn beautiful.

And this one, too, a little further down the road. Now, even if I saw nothing else, I’d at least have shot three things on this adventure. Some kids and a couple barns.

I’m a sucker for a barn and a row of trees.

There was no one at the refuge when I got there. I was arriving later in the day than normal, but I was still hoping to see those eagles…

So far so good, easy walking and no ice!

…until I got to the T in the trail and to the right, the way I needed to go, looked like this.

That’s a bench up there on the left, but I’m not going to sit on it.

Hmmmm…I could put on the cleats. But still, I was alone out there — if I fell it would be a long time before someone came to help. It didnt seem worth the risk.

Turning left there was a ‘nature viewing’ shack. I’d never investigated it before, and the trail was clear that way so I figured why not.

What’s that back there?

This is the view. Uninspiring.

Well, the trees are nice…

I took the heavy long lens off the camera and put my regular lens back on and decided I’d just go for artsy fartsy pictures on the mile long walk back to the car. So that’s what you’r going to get for the rest of this post. I don’t imagine you’ll mind too much.

There was some beaver damage on downed trees. Not really artsy fartsy, but interesting.

Those beaver have some big teeth!

And a huge tree limb that had fallen across the trail with beautiful insect tracks.

Reminded me of petroglyphs somehow.

I originally thought it was a limb from an ash tree because of the bug trails…but the tree this limb fell from looked like a hickory tree, so I don’t know what caused the damage. I spent a long time taking pictures of the naked limbs with the beautiful but sad markings.

These marks aren’t the same as what I’ve seen made by the ash beetle.

And closer to the car the ice, as long as I wasn’t walking on it, was beautiful too.

In a black and white winter world there was still plenty of color.

Even a bit of frozen grass could be seen as art.

I thought the colors were a perfect representation of winter in Michigan.

And fungus on a stick was certainly beautiful too.

Up close, the better to appreciate the wonder of it.

Back at the parking lot I shot the farm that was way off across a field, and that was the end of the photographic adventure for the day.

One last farm.

Oh! I did see a couple cardinals. Not that I can’t see those at home, but still…it was wildlife.

Hey Lady! I’m right here!

The grand total was some kids, some ice, some dead tree limbs and a bird or two. Not what I went looking for. But it was still fun. I got out of the house, in the fresh (cold) air with my camera. You can’t always choose what you get to shoot, but you can always turn it into something worthwhile.



Shiawasee Nature Refuge part two

So where did I leave you? Ah yes….at the viewing platform overlooking the wetlands, about two miles from the car.

An excellent place to watch the birds.

Since we’ve been lugging the camera backpack filled with lenses and spare batteries all this way, this would be a good time to change to the long lens. Don’t you think? And perhaps take a sip from the water bottle that’s been adding weight to the bag for the long trek out here.

I loved the stripes of color.

There, that’s better.

So, out here in the open marsh you can here sandhill cranes and Canadian geese as they fly in and out. A few trumpeter swans too. No pelicans this time, and that’s disappointing, but I’m too late in the season for much of a variety.

These guys decided to move on to a place less habited by nosey humans.

The other people on the viewing platform have high powered binoculars, and they are watching a northern harrier harrass a young bald eagle. I can’t see any of that of course, but I enjoy listening to them talk about it.

Yep way over there is a tree that often hosts eagles. In fact that might be one to the left, or that might be the harrier.

Mostly I watch the geese that were nearest to me and enjoy the sun and the sitting down for a bit.

And then I decide I’ll head back, but take a path I’ve never chosen before, out past the tree where, on a previous visit, I’d seen so many eagles, out along the edge of the wetlands, because you just never know what you’ll find.

It was a beautiful day, even if I didn’t get any great shots of an eagle.

And I do find the juvinile eagle, I think, though I can’t get a close enough view of him to be sure. I have a longer lens than I had last year, but he was still a long ways away. For all I know, this is the harrier, rather than the eagle. He (or she) is fun to watch either way, soaring high above the grasses, searching for a meal.

A super cropped image of a bird. Might be an eagle. But I think it’s the harrier. Cool either way.

I come across a passel of cranes, standing around out there in a clump. No noise, just hanging out. When they see me noticing them they begin to walk away at a fast clip, so I move on, not wanting to upset them.

Moving quietly back into the grass so as not to attract any more attention.

And then I begin the long wander back to the car. It is a beautiful day and I’m not at all disappointed that I don’t have anything spectacular to shoot. But wait! There’s an eagle’s nest! Wow, that thing is huge! Now I know which way I’ll walk next spring when there might be some activity there, maybe early in the season before leaves obscure the view.

This won’t be easy to see once the tree leafs out.

It’s not far from the tree where I’ve seen eagles, adult and juviniles…and it’s in the direction I always see them flying from out there. Now it all makes sense. I’m excited for next season!

But other than that my walk back is just filled with beautiful fall sights. I am walking on a path less traveled, and mostly not mowed, so I am glad for my waterproof hiking shoes keeping my feet dry.

Even though I am on the lookout for birds of any size, and though I hear a few, I don’t see any. I probably need to sit in one place, as I’ve considered on other visits to this park, and wait for something to come by in stead of tromping noisily through the woods.

But I am hungry, and tired, and still a long way from the car, so I trek on.

I like the spunkiness of the little tree growing in the remains of it’s ancestor.

The views don’t disappoint. Just about any direction I look there is something pretty.

Another dyke flanked by leaning trees. These always remind me of Marines at a wedding, with their swords forming a tunnel for the bride and groom. Actually, a wedding woud be amazing here.

I can’t stop taking pictures, but that’s no surprise to anyone. Right?

Such great colors and shapes, it’s impossible to resist taking just one more shot.

But eventually I put the lens cap back on, resolving to move faster toward the car and the banana waiting for me. I even pass up the opportunity to sit on a bench, because I know I am only half a mile away from the parking lot.

A tempting bench. If I’d had my lunch with me I might have stopped.

I promise myself I’m not taking any more images. Just going to forge ahead, eyes front, no stopping. Really.

Hmmmm….what’s making all that noise over there?

But I can’t ignore the huge ruckus coming up from a field just beyond the trees to my right. When I come to an opening I see what must be the party room for cranes. Because they are dancing up a storm. So I had to take the lens cap back off. You would have too, I’m sure.

And then I hear this little guy, and since he is the only little bird I’ve seen clearly all day, well, the lens cap comes off again.

It’s not even a good shot, but he is the only one that cooperated, so he gets to be in the blog.

And then, finally, I make it back to the car. My 4+ mile walk through the woods is over, and I know I wouldn’t be back until spring. Unless I decide a winter hike is in order. I guess I’ll put that idea into the ‘things to ponder’ file drawer and see what the winter weather is like this year.

Always notice the light.

More likely I’ll be back in the spring, when northern migration is happening and there will be more activity to wittness. I’ll be sure to bring you along whenever I go back. Maybe I’ll even carry a banana with me so I can stay out there longer.

Come along with me, the walking is marvelous!

You’ll be responsible for your own snacks. And your waterproof shoes.

Stay tuned.