Gallery 4

ALL IMAGES DISPLAYED HERE ARE

LOWER RESOLUTION IMAGES FOR WEB DISPLAY.

MALE BUFFLEHEAD

Male Bufflehead Running Takeoff Reflection

7″ x 10.5″

Some creeks in the EUP usually host a few Bufflehead ducks in April as a stop along their journey northward to their breeding waters.  One lucky day, the early morning’s calm water provided the opportunity for a reflection shot of this bird’s running takeoff. Successfully capturing this image requires knowing the clue it gives before taking off.  It raise its head up tall and straight, looking forward, and about 1 second later it takes off like its shot out of a canon.  I had to begin moving the camera and lens to the left at the right time, and at the right speed, just to keep the bird in the frame.

BARRED OWL IN FOREST WINDOW

Barred Owl in Forest Window

12″ x 16″

The call of this owl alerted me to its presence in late May.  After a very slow walk, I found just the right angle to peer through the forest into the canopy where it was perched.

Male Northern Parula

Male Northern Parula

8″ x 10″

This bird made its nest a few feet from a private road used by many people for walking.  It was undisturbed by their presence because they did not notice it was foraging for insects very close to its nest.  I only needed to set up my camera and lens on my tripod and wait.  The bird was completely trusting and would often go to the tips of spruce branches (like those pictured) and probe for insects on the underside.

 

Hawk Owl flight with meadow vole

Hawk Owl Flight with Meadow Vole

10″ x 15″

Hawk owls sometimes spend the winter in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  They are diurnal- hunting during the day. This owl hunted a very large field from a forest edge, and was habituated to my presence.  I had binoculars as well as my photography equipment.  I saw it leave its perch and fly after a bounding vole over two hundred yards out in the field.  As I watched with my binoculars I observed the vole bounding fast, and at the peak of a bound the owl calmly, and seemingly effortlessly, grabbed it with its talons.  Then it turned to come back.  I ran with my equipment through two feet of snow to get into position, guessing it would return to the same perch.  It would fly low and rise up to the 20 foot high perch, so I positioned myself well before the perch, along its line of direction to the perch, with the sun at my back.  I was lucky to capture a good image with its wings up so the meadow vole could be seen in its talons.

MALE COMMON YELLOWTHROAT

Male Common Yellowthroat in “Spring” Color

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

The colorful, emerging maple saplings in mid to late May in the hardwoods of the EUP make a nice backdrop for migrating, colorful warblers such as this male Common Yellowthroat.  Finding groups of migrant birds in this habitat is more difficult than finding them in the habitat close to the shore of northern Lake Huron, which rarely has any maples due to the wetter soil.

Lake Huron Winter ice field sunset

Lake Huron Winter Ice Field Sunset

12″ x 18″

In winter sometimes southerly winds push broken ice up against the north shore of Lake Huron.  I like to photograph beautiful sunsets, such as this one, under those conditions, especially when it does not snow on the ice field, so the reflections and prism effects are maximal.

MALE INDIGO BUNTING

Male Indigo Bunting

7″ x 10.5″      10″ x 15″

Indigo buntings are one of the last species of songbirds to arrive on their northern breeding grounds, often in the first days of June in the EUP. On a cold, early June morning, this brilliant bird foraged in colorful, oak saplings in a hardwood forest clearing.

Male Goldeneye kick

Male Goldeneye Kick

7″ x 10.5″

In the sheltered waters of the Les Cheneaux Island channels of northern Lake Huron, Goldeneyes will congregate as soon as the ice melts in spring (usually in late March or early April).  When one group of Goldeneyes swims toward another group some of the males will dip their chest down, while pointing their beak straight up, and kick backward very quickly and forcefully.  While making this image I needed a shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second in order to stop the action.

Female Snowy Owl Back Turn

Female Snowy Owl Back Turn

7″ x 10.5″          10″ x 15″

The Rudyard-area fields can hold a few Snowy owls in winter when their main prey, voles, are abundant.  When the snow is crusted, the voles come to the surface from their underground tunnels via the rings of snowmelt around posts, trees, etc. And they make a run for it, presumably to find a better food location.  But an owl can be waiting.  Because of the wind, this female snowy owl had readjusted her flight upon her approach to a running vole, and in that split second, I was very lucky to be in the right spot at the right time.

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler with Columbine

Male Black-throated Blue Warbler with Columbine

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

In a dry period during late May, I set up a water drip and pool at the edge of a large tract of mature hardwood forest where wild columbine grows perennially.  This colorful resident came in to bathe.

Winter Field and Forest

Winter Field and Forest

12″ x 18″  or larger

Wet lake effect snow, followed by powdery snow, covered the trees near Lake Michigan in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan.  Mid-afternoon sun peaking through the clouds added shadows across the field.  The combination provided a unique winter scene.

European Dipper

European Dipper

12″ x 18″

On a beautiful day in May, while staying with my wife’s family in the Alps of Italy, I took a bike ride with her uncle down a long bike path in their valley.   Some fast moving rivers are a few miles down the path, and the path is close to one river for hundreds of yards.  While riding, I scanned that section for a European dipper.  I found a bird on its favored perch (pictured above), near its nest.  When I pointed the bird out to my “uncle-in-law” he was amazed.  He never knew such a bird existed, even though he spent his entire life (60+ years) in that valley.  When I returned home I told my wife’s brother I wanted to make a blind that would allow me to photograph that bird from about 4 feet away, because the only lens I had on the trip was a very small one.  We got to work using scrap materials from his farm, and made a nice little portable blind that would completely conceal me.  Just the lens would stick out of a hole in the army green fabric.  There was a perfect spot to place the blind on a gravel section of the river’s edge, close to the rock, and I saw that the morning sun would be well-positioned behind the blind, pointing at the rock.  I put the blind there one afternoon while the bird was away, and I returned 3 days later on a sunny morning.  I entered the blind while the bird was at its nest and waited less than 5 minutes – the bird was back on the rock, without a sign of noticing me. It is yawning in the photo.

Hooded Merganser Family 2

Hooded Merganser Family 2

10″x 15″

When a female Hooded Merganser raises her brood, she chooses a protected waterway called a nursery. This female chose a pond full of reeds, adjacent to a causeway where people would often walk. In the early morning, she would often take the brood for a trip through the only open section, which allowed this photograph.

Male American Kestrel landing

Male American Kestrel Landing

12″ x 18″  or larger

American Kestrels are a small falcon (9-12 inches long).    Those that arrive from the south to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in early April experience some very cold nights, and they need to eat in the morning to survive after those nights.  They are much more unwary at this time.  I saw this individual hovering near a back road.  Then it landed on the ground, in a ditch near the post pictured.  It could not see me so I pulled my van up to get a good view of the post with my lens out of the window, with the sun at my back.  It flew into the wind and up to the post, the wind forcing it to briefly extend its wings to balance itself.  I believe it did not hear me pull into position and turn off the engine because of the noise created by wind blowing the dead grasses in the ditch.

Female Belted Kingfisher with mudskipper

Female Belted Kingfisher with Mudskipper

10″ x 15″

In early June, while driving down a two-track road near northern Lake Huron, I saw a large pile of sandy dirt that was recently made by a bulldozer.  It had a freshly made hole about 4-5 inches in diameter about two feet from the top of the side with the steepest incline.  I knew it was a Belted Kingfisher nest in the early stages of construction.  They dig a burrow up to 7 feet long!  I estimated that the time when hatchlings would require lots of food would be in mid-July, so I returned then.  I set up a blind and focused on a perch close to the nest.  This female came in with a live mudskipper from a marsh on Lake Huron, almost 1 mile away.

Shoreline reflection late April

Shoreline Reflection late April

10″ x 18″ or larger

LONG-TAILED DUCK COURTSHIP

Long-tailed Duck Courtship

12″ x 18″

In late March or early April, hundreds of Long-Tailed Ducks occupy the waters between the DeTour Village and Drummond Island ferry docks. The Drummond Island dock can be an excellent location for viewing these ducks (and other diving ducks) in the morning.  Long-taileds rarely come close to the dock, but during this photograph a group landed within camera range.  The female (with the blue-green bill) chose one male but two other males were also vying for her attention.

FEMALE BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER

Female Black-throated blue Warbler

7″ x 10.5″         10″x 15″

On a spring day in May when many migrant warblers were on the tip of a northern Lake Huron peninsula, this female Black-throated Blue Warbler foraged close to a male, who probably was her mate.  There was some variation in the color of this female.  She had more blue on her tail, back, and head than I have ever seen.  It seemed she might have a harder time remaining camouflaged while on the nest.

Male Purple finch

Male Purple Finch

7″ x 10.5″      10″ x 15″

Purple finches are a common resident in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  This male was one of three males that were on the ground in small forest clearing.  They seemed to be competing for the attention of one female that was on a low branch of a nearby tree.

Sandhill Cranes in Rudyard Field

Sandhill Cranes in Rudyard Field

12″ x 18″  or larger

In September large flocks of Sandhill Cranes can be found in the Rudyard fields.  The local farmers know where the cranes are most likely to be found: the barley fields.

Spotted Sandpiper reflection

Spotted Sandpiper Reflection

10″ x 15″       12″ x 18″

On a calm morning an inland lake with low water levels provided an ideal feeding ground for this hungry sandpiper that paused briefly after probing for food.

FEMALE NORTHERN PARULA AT NEST

Female Northern Parula at Nest

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

One year, a Northern Parula warbler pair decided to build their nest in a balsam fir about 8 feet above the corner of our second-floor back deck at our home on northern Lake Huron. The window, where we have a desk and computer, gave us a perfect view of the nest’s location. Our surrounding forest has a very high density of nesting warblers. Different species nest within the same area, with a much closer distance between nest sites as compared to other areas because of the overabundance of food (insects, especially midges and spiders) that is eaten by all of the nesting warblers. While the male and female Northern Parulas would be gathering nesting material in the forest, a female American Redstart (a similar size warbler) would pull material away from their nesting project. It landed in a growing pile on the branches below it. We witnessed this repeatedly for a few days. The Parulas were making no progress, and discouragement set in for the male. He finally gave up. It was up to the female to do it all alone, and, to our surprise, in an amazing display of fortitude she doubled her efforts.  It turned out that the female Redstart had a nest in a cedar about 30 feet away. It seemed she did not tolerate a nest being built so close to hers but she had to lay her eggs and incubate them, which finally gave the persistent female Parula the chance to finish the nest and lay her eggs. While incubating, she became invisible to us for weeks, and the male returned to his duties of defending his nesting territory. The pair eventually raised four, healthy young birds who became completely tolerant of our unthreatening presence.

Lake Huron winter at natural spring

Lake Huron Winter at Natural Spring

12″ x 18″  or larger

The sun (above the frame) briefly peaked down from the dark storm clouds to give a dramatic view of this natural spring which feeds northern Lake Huron.  The spring comes out of the ground to the bottom left of the frame.  There are many such springs along the north shore of Lake Huron, making these waters some of the cleanest in the Great Lakes.

DEER MCKAY CREEK 10 x 10 downsized

 McKay Creek Deer

10″ x 10″

On an early morning before sunrise I drove by these deer at the McKay Creek crossing of M-134 in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, then turned around to photograph them.

Sora Rail

Sora Rail

8″ x 10″     11″ x 14″

I live on a cove along the northern shore of Lake Huron.  One year our dock extended into a mudflat because of low water levels, and five Sora rail pairs nested in the cove.  In early July this bird sang continuously during the day for about one week, signaling its nesting territory.  When its chicks hatched in August this normally secretive bird became protective for a brief period and was much more visible, until the chicks learned to heed its call to take cover.

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