Welcome to My Michigan (The Mitten)
I took a fifteen year break from photography to spend as much time as possible with my family. Now that the kids are out of school and I find myself with more free time I have decided to join the digital age and pick up where I left off.
For me photography is a labor of love. It helps me see everything in a new light and a new way. Everyday events become forever memories. Insects, flowers, animals and birds become magical and mystical. My eyes see a whole new world around me, sometimes alien but always beautiful. This is what I love to do, winter, spring, summer and fall, immersed in the great out of doors with a camera in my hand.
Come and join me on my expeditions. And just maybe, like many others, you will come away "Smitten by the Mitten".
Thank you for stopping by.
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Last week we had a special guest visit out backyard. This is the first time a Red-Headed Woodpecker has stopped by to say hello and brighten up our days. He hung around for four days and then moved on. Wouldn't it be nice if he visits us every year as he travels to his home up north!
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 3
As a group, warblers are the most colorful birds to migrate through our area every spring and fall. They are also the most difficult to photograph since they are constantly moving in search of an insect meal. This is a Yellow-rumped Warbler, one of the first Warblers to arrive in the Spring. Many more, just as beautiful are close behind. Get out and about this weekend with your binoculars and try to get a look at some of the tiny birds moving in the treetops. Maybe you will get a glimpse of a Warbler "Gem". This photo was taken in Legg Park.
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
I was at Lake Lansing last night wishing for something exciting to appear when seven Caspian Terns flew out of the fog and drizzle. Sometimes wishes do come true.
It was 8:30 when a birding friend called to say there were five American White Pelicans at Lake Lansing. I was already in the Jeep heading back from a walk in one of the Meridian Township Preserves so I just kept driving to Lake Lansing. It was almost dark by the time I got to the Lake and found the birds. Here are the best pics I could come up with. I imagine they will still be at the lake tomorrow morning so get up early, go see a really rare bird at Lake Lansing and then treat yourself to breakfast. What a great end to a very good day!
American White Pelican
American White Pelican
... but you can't see me. This Sandhill Crane is on a nest trying its best to blend into the marsh as I walk by. The photo was taken in the Meridian Township Foster-Crouse Preserve.
Sandhill Crane on Nest
It's not often that a bird like this drops by mid Michigan for a visit. Another birder discovered this Yellow-headed Blackbird at Maple River State Game Area today. As soon as I found out about it I jumped in the Jeep and headed out. This was my reward!
Yellow-headed Blackbird 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird 3
You just can't think of wetlands and marshes, vernal ponds or fluddles without thinking about Red-winged Blackbirds. This photo was taken at Lake Lansing Park North.
Red-winged Blackbird 2
In 1933 the Trumpeter Swan was thought to be headed for extinction with only 70 known to exist. But a large Pacific population was discovered in the Coper River area of Alaska. Swans from this population were used to carefully reintroduce the Trumpeter Swan across North America and in 2010 the population was estimated to be 46,000. This is a truly spectacular bird and a spectacular comeback story. The Trumpeter Swan is our largest waterfowl with a wingspan that may exceed 8 feet. These swans are still pretty rare in Ingham County. Most of the swans we see are large flocks of migrating Tundra Swans and the introduced and aggressive Mute Swan. In March we were lucky to have a pair visit us for a few days and hang out in the wetlands on the north west corner of Jolly and Hagadorn Roads. I was crossing my fingers and hoping they would stick around and nest, but they flew away. Here is a photo of them starting a sort of mating dance. I almost got the "classic" heart photo. Here us a DNR website where you can read more about Trumpeter Swans in Michigan.
It's lways great to see these beautiful birds flying overhead headed north, a sure sign that spring is here!
Today I found my first wildflower of 2017, a Spring Beauty. Maybe spring has finally sprung. This photo was taken in Legg Park, Meridian Township.
Here is another bird from my weekend adventure. It is a Gray Jay. The Gray Jay is more closely related to Magpies that it is to Jays. It lives in the far north and rears its chicks in the dark of winter. In the summer months this bird hoards food in trees so they have plenty to eat when winter comes knocking. This photo was taken in Chippewa County.
The Northern Shrike is a small predatory songbird that feeds on small birds, mammals and Insects. It is a bird that isn't seen very often and once found usually flies off into the bushes and hides. I found this one in Chippewa County on my recent UP birding adventure.
We are up North in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to find some winter and some winter birds. We stopped by Rudyard to look for Snowy Owls and were not disappointed. Here are two of the six Snowy Owls that we saw today. What an awesome way to start a trip!
They call them pussy willows,
But there's no cat to see,
Except the tiny little toes
That stick out on the trees.
Now every spring it worries me,
That I can never find
Those willow cats that ran away
And left their toes behind.
This photo was taken at North Meridian Road Park.
Atop the sledding hill at Williamston Township Community Park. This is my home away from home during raptor migration. And the warm weather has migration starting a bit early this year. If you visit the park you may see me and a Corgi named Dexter scanning the sky for migrating birds and soaking up the late winter sunshine (and playing fetch).
Atop the Hill