Gallery 3

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LOWER RESOLUTION IMAGES FOR WEB DISPLAY.

SAW-WHET OWL

Saw-whet Owl

8″ x 12″

Saw-whet Owls breed in the EUP, but migrate southward for an extended period of time in the fall. Lake Huron is a formidable barrier to cross so many stop to feed and rest along the northern shore of Lake Huron, waiting for favorable north winds. They are nocturnal so most are undetected by birders. Finding them is much easier in early October, when flocks of Ruby-crowned Kinglets congregate along the northern shore for the same reason. When a flock discovers the daytime roost of a Saw-whet Owl numerous kinglets will fly back and forth continuously, landing on branches to their left and to their right, at a distance of anywhere from approximately 4 to 8 feet from the owl. At the moment of landing on a branch, each kinglet will make a distinctive clicking noise. The resulting chaotic noise of many of them clicking simultaneously, can be heard from quite a distance. I walk to that noise, if possible. The behavior of the kinglets will pinpoint the location of the owl, which is usually well concealed.

Female Northern Harrier dive

Female Northern Harrier Dive

8″ x 10″          12″ x 16″

This bird regularly hunted near its nest in a local marsh along the northern Lake Huron shoreline.  Harriers fly with an erratic, almost moth-like flight, as they scan the ground for prey.  But before they attack they briefly flare their tail, then dive down to pounce on prey.

MALE WILSON'S WARBLER IN TAMARACK

Male Wilson’s Warbler in Tamarack

8″ x 10″       11″ x 14″

Wilson’s Warblers breed in very few numbers in the EUP, so they are difficult to find during the nesting season.  But they are more easily found in both spring and fall migration in mixed species warbler flocks along the northern shore of Lake Huron.

Quarry creek winter hoarfrost scene

Quarry Creek Winter Hoarfrost Scene

12″ x 18″

A very cold winter night produced steam from this creek that formed hoarfrost on the stream side vegetation.  The steam lifted and then a lone female Goldeneye cut the scene’s serenity moments after sunrise. I safely pulled my car into position to photograph while she was hidden behind stream side vegetation, and she seemed to never notice me as she swam into the scene.

UPLAND SANDPIPER LANDING

Upland Sandpiper Landing While Singing

12″ x 18″ or larger

Upland sandpipers nest on the ground in many fields of the EUP. In a farmer’s field they often use fence posts as a perch, especially in the beginning of the nesting season.  When they land, they hold their wings up (as pictured), pausing briefly at the top position.  This one also called territorially to a rival male.

Male Blackburnian Warbler in spruce cage

Male Blackburnian Warbler in Spruce Cage

9″ x 9″

When this colorful bird landed in that location I hoped, and patiently waited a few seconds, for it to reveal its bright throat, because I knew that the unique arrangement of little spruce cones surrounding it framed it well.

Rough-legged Hawk back turn

Rough-legged Hawk Back Turn

10″ x 15″

Rough-legged hawks are a large bird with up to a five foot wingspan.   They often hover stationary into a wind and scan the ground for small mammal prey. This bird hunted for voles over a pasture, and was hovering into a wind blowing toward me, so it faced away from me, as I photographed on a remote road from my van window.  It noticed prey on the ground closer to me, and quickly turned to come back in my direction before diving down to capture a vole.  At the instant of its turn I hit the shutter button.

COMMON REDPOLL FEEDING ON DRIED GOLDEN ROD

Common Redpoll Feeding on Dried Goldenrod

7″ x 10.5″          10″x 15″

Common Redpolls nest in the far north, but many years they come down to Northern Michigan in the fall or winter to search for food.  Large groups can clean out bird feeders, but, when they are not at feeders, the majority of their food is small natural seeds, such as those of goldenrod.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle) in spruce

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle) in Spruce

8″ x 10″      11″ x 14″

Yellow-rumped warblers are common in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the first species of warbler arriving from the south in April.  Most warbler species arrive in May.  Males are oftentimes very visible when they arrive on their breeding territory.

Great Blue Heron marsh flight

Great Blue Heron Marsh Flight

10″ x 15″

When this heron crouched down to jump into flight I knew it would fly right because the wind was coming from the right.   Larger birds almost always fly into the wind at takeoff because lift-off is easier.  But they do not gain speed as easy and must pump their wings to full (or close to full) upward and downward extension.  This photo caught it at full upward extension.

GREY GREY OWL SNOWY PERCH

Great Grey Owl Snowy Perch

12″ x 18″

One winter morning I found this owl that was undeterred by falling snow,  patiently waiting to detect prey in a forest clearing not far from my home.   I very slowly walked through snow just above my knees to a position partially hidden behind trees, with the center of the frame unblocked by nearby snowy (blurry) branches.

Male Mourning Warbler in spring forest

Male Mourning Warbler in Spring Forest

7″ x 10.5″          10″ x 15″

Mourning warblers are known to stay well hidden within vegetation.  But males are more aggressive shortly after arriving on their breeding territory, before females arrive.   They will sometimes let out a distinctive “chip” note when you approach their location.   During this photo opportunity I stayed well hidden behind vegetation, with just the top of my lens poking over a bush.  I pre-focused on the perch in the image, which was very near the bird, and made two sharp “pishing” calls.  The bird jumped up onto the perch.

Male Hooded Merganser with perch

Male Hooded Merganser with Perch

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

While this bird dove under water I ran about 30 yards to position myself on my belly, behind a short break wall.    I covered myself and camera and lens on a beanbag I use for such situations with a camouflaged sheet before it surfaced.  I followed its movements with my lens but it had no fear and continued to dive and feed.

Beavertail cove sunrise late April

Beavertail Cove sunrise late April

12″ x 18″ or larger

MALE BLACK-BACK WOODPECKER

Male Black-backed Woodpecker

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

In 2012, there was a forest fire of over 20,000 acres in the EUP; the Duck Lake Burn. The following year, Black-backed Woodpeckers nested in large numbers.  They pry chips of bark off of the scorched conifer trees in search of beetle larva, which infest the trees after a fire.  This tree was solid black but this bird (and likely others) had removed a lot of the charred bark.

Male Nashville Warbler in flowering maple

Male Nashville Warbler in Flowering Maple

8″ x 10″       11″ x 14″

Nashville Warblers are one of the first Neotropical migrant warbler species to arrive on their northern breeding grounds in spring, so they often must survive very cold nights and mornings. Some males arrive so early that no deciduous trees have even begun to leaf out. Nashville Warblers have also been observed feeding on the nectar of flowers, but the maple flowers in this photograph are too small to yield nectar.

RUNNING MALE COMMON MERGANSER

Running Male Common Merganser

8″ x 10″          12″ x 16″

In mid-April, this male Common Merganser was peacefully swimming down a local creek in the EUP when something scared him from behind and prompted a running takeoff.

Male Pileated Woodpecker hiding

Male Pileated Woodpecker Hiding

8″ x 10″       11″ x 14″

This individual claimed our area as its own feeding area years ago.  Its nesting area is about one mile away. The tree pictured was about 20 yards from the private drive to our home, and it is not standing anymore.  No surprise.  Wind would take it down because of the weakened base.  As I would pass by with my car this bird would take that pose, as if he was successfully hiding from me, then resume its project after I passed.  One day I stopped my van and turned the engine off, with my lens poking out of the window. It stayed motionless (as pictured) until I left.

Male Magnolia Warbler in tamarack

Male Magnolia Warbler in Tamarack

8″ x 10″         11″ x 14″

There are many Magnolia warblers breeding near my home but I have found none more cooperative than this individual.  It foraged for insects on a cold morning in the one spot in its territory warmed by the sun – a tamarack tree with cones developed the previous year still attached.

Male Wood Ducks on fall pond

Male Wood Ducks on Fall Pond

7″ x 10.5″        10″ x 15″

I visited a pond that can hold migrating Wood ducks at the time of peak fall color in October.  The maples were brilliant and the morning was calm,  providing an amazing reflection scene.

LECONTE'S SPARROW

LeConte’s Sparrow

8″ x 10″      11″ x 14″

Le Conte’s Sparrows are very secretive, mostly remaining within the bushes and grasses of their wet grassland meadow habitat. The extensive field habitat of the EUP holds many breeding Le Conte’s. If you are looking for them, make sure there is a pond or marsh in the field you search, to greatly increase your chances of finding one. A windless early morning in early June is the best time to find them by listening for their faint song.

LX6Z3621 8x10 unshp

Porcupine Mountains Fall Stream

12″x 18″  or larger

The clear early morning sun illuminated the golden foliage of trees (not pictured) along the far bank of this stream, providing a bright golden reflection on the water of a scene that is in shade.

Immature Northern Harrier learning to fly

Learning to Fly

12″ x 16″

Immature Northern Harriers remain near their nest site for weeks after hatching.  As they grow they make their first attempts at flight.  One of four siblings in the area, this juvenile bird made a short flight out of the dew covered shrubs in the early morning and crash landed in the soft branches of a tamarack.  The numerous tamaracks of this area provided an excellent safe learning area for the siblings because crash landing in other trees could have been more dangerous.

House Wren at Cavity Nest

House Wren at Cavity Nest

10″ x 15″

House Wrens are one of numerous species that nest in old woodpecker holes.  This was a hole excavated by a Downy Woodpecker.