Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

I didn't really have an appropriate post, like a squirrel lounging on an adirondack chair sipping a Corona with lime on the beach, or a Fox basking in the sun's rays with a bottle of suntan lotion and a pair of Ray Bans , but I did find a juvy Cedar Waxwing taking flight like he just needed to scram, and that's the way I feel. No post tomorrow, because, you know, it's Labor Day--Geez!

I hope you all enjoy your Labor Day!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goose Lake Odds N Ends

This windmill was just erected this past month. It will serve as a waterpump to keep the nearby lake from drying up. The covered wagon adds some nostagia to this prairie.

This female Red-winged Blackbird was glowing in the morning light.

I haven't seen the Common Snipe since May, so hearing their call as a flock scattered to another wet area was really cool. I wasn't sure of what the strange noises were until I checked my camera display alittle closer.

The Solitary Sandpiper was a first for me. It's a species commonly found at Goose Lake (along with the Henslow Sparrow).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Indigo Buntings

I heard a rumor of Blue Grosbeaks in a certain township, on a certain road, etc. etc...

Well I went, having never seen Blue Grosbeaks, so driving the distance could be worth the effort, since I was semi-close to the area anyway, spending some hospital time with my Dad who had knee replacement surgery. (he's recouping well)

I did find some ummm... blue ummm... birds. Indigo Buntings to be specific. Not a bad find, but...not Grosbeaks...

The problem was, it wasn't the most pleasant of areas. I wasn't scared really, not in the "Deliverance" sense, but in the...well o.k. maybe slightly in the "Deliverance" sense without the deep woods of Kentucky. Not only that, but the gravel roads could and did swallow your car. You could definately enter and never exit...ever...And, it seems to be the hotspot for large trash. Why not throw your broken washer, dryer, tires, toilets, etc. on the side of a road, what could it harm? Umm, besides giving other "trash" the idea of making a deposit, how about West Nile among many diseases that cause people/birds harm?...Just a thought...

I will not be back unless a report of Blue Pterodactyls are in the area, but the Indigos made it productive and I did see a few Eastern Towhees. Not a complete loss, and... I got out alive, pending test results...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Backyard Hummers

I've been concerned all summer about not seeing any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in my yard...

It took all summer, but I finally have the Hummers!!!!

As a matter of fact, I have 4 that visit.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon sitting under the feeder from about 6 feet away to get these shots.

My next venture is to get them acclimated to me, so that I can hold the feeder as they feed.

It's my favorite time of migration, when the hummers compete for food in my yard.

They protect the feeders from other hummers.

Here is a shot where a male hummer is chasing off another, and I happen to catch this one flying at me, and chattering at the enemy hummer...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Odd Couple

It's pretty rare to see a buck with a fawn. Most of the time, females with young ones will avoid bucks altogether because bucks normally don't socialize with females and fawns until rutting season. I believe this teenage "drifter" is establishing territory that overlaps the matriarch mother's. Just off the frame, 3 adult females grazed without stress from the presence of this strapping young buck. The fawn romped happily through the tall grasses, looking for someone to play with...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goose Lake Prairie Nature Photo Contest

GLP had it's 2nd annual contest last weekend. I like this contest because you can enter up to 3 entries per catagory. I take advantage of that in a few of the catagories including animals, both color and B&W, and Goose Lake itself, photos taken within Goose Lake Prairie. I entered 9 in those catagories. There is also landscapes & plants, but I had nothing to submit this time around.

Well, I expected to capture a few places as in the past, but I didn't expect Best of Show! This picture grabbed:

1st Place Color Animal

Best in Color Photograph

Best of Show

Which also means that 6 more of the photos entered, placed 2nd, 3rd or Honorable.

Anyway, it was a thrill for me and I just had to share my bounty with my inner blogworld!

Ohio to Michigan Day 3

We decided to head back to Michigan from Ohio on day 3. We wanted to visit some of the Dunes and State Parks and eventually end up at Grand Haven to see a few lighthouses there. Our first stop was this dune, although I can't recall the name. I liked the entrance:

Our second dune was in Saugatuck at the State Park. What we didn't know was that the trail taking us to the beach was a bazillion miles long, and almost worth it, but our footgear choices would have been different, had the park forewarned us of the trek...

Our third dune wasWarren Dunes State Park. I made a $100 bet that Becky wouldn't make it to the top...

She's still climbing....

There goes some perfectly good spending money!

At the State Park at Grand Haven were 2 lighthouses on a pier. This red one was about half-way...

This one was on the end of the pier. It was shaped like a ship...

The sun was about to set for this one last shot before we decided to head back to Illinois in the morning...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Trip to Ohio - Day 2

We met our www friends at MarbleHead Lighthouse, which is just a short trip from Port Clinton. Jack showed me the best angles from which to shoot. I took advantage of his expertise and set up the ole tripod. No need. The day was bright, and shooting a stark white subject always makes for a faster shutter.

We then went up inside the lighthouse, which again, was a first for me. It's a pretty tight winding staircase, and although the lighthouse didn't look all that tall, the stairs were plenty enough for me. At the top, you could really inspect this old treasure, along with the beautiful view of Lake Erie, but I was more interested in the lighthouse's shadow...

...and it's green light.

Here is Jack looking for a new angle to shoot from the interior window.

Our next stop was Put In Bay at South Bass Island. There was a ferry to get us to the island where there were 2 lighthouses to shoot. This Island was really neat. It was, of course, touristy! We rented a golf cart to get around the small island. Our first stop was this light. It is called Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial. It is considered a lighthouse because of its function of lighting Lake Eries passageways, but technically it is not a "Lighthouse". There is no house. Put-in-Bay or South Bass, served as a base of operations for Oliver Hazard Perry. It was from the harbor called Put-in-Bay that Perry sailed to defeat the British fleet under Robert H. Barclay during the war of 1812. The American victory in the battle of Lake Erie gave the country and the United States Navy a memorable slogan of positive accomplishments, "We have met the enemy and they are ours..." Today there stands at Put-in-Bay a beautiful Greek Doric column, the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial. This 352-foot granite shaft commemorates not only a naval battle but a peace which has lasted for more than 150 years. The 3,987-mile boundary between the United States and Canada is the longest unguarded international frontier in the world.

A Statue of Perry in the Museum with the monument in the background:

This next Lighthouse was on the other side of town at the opposite point.

The restaurants smelled amazing. We chose the Boardwalk which is a cluster of restaurants within the ...well...boardwalk. The place claimed to have the best Lobster Bisque in all of Ohio, or the world, or the universe or something. I had to order it, although I've never tried it before. It was the best Lobster Bisque I have ever had in Ohio, the world, the universe or something!

We were 600+ nautical miles from Sweet Home Chicago...

The harbor was interesting...

I found my first ever Laughing Gulls to shoot...

Along with a few Forster's Terns...

To Monnie and Jack:

You were terrific hosts! Thank you so much for the great day, and showing us the sites! I knew we would all be grow to be old friends the moment Monnie told Jack to "read my lips"! Let's have another Bud Light Lime again soon!

Monnie, me, & Jack

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trip to Ohio - Day 1

ROAD TRIP! I love road trips. I've been on many. Most were not planned well, and that is basically the point of a road trip, in my eyes anyway...

The rough draft of the trip was to drive from Illinois to Ohio, which was to take about 5 hours. We were meeting some folks I had become friends with, via the world wide web, on a nature photo site I have belonged to for a few years. The neat thing about the site was the friends I have made, so meeting them in person was a thrill. More on them in the coming posts...

Our first stop on the trip was the Indiana Dunes. I had been there as a child, but remember very little. This place was interesting. The sand was everywhere...

They call this "hill" Devils Slide.

We walked the beach looking for shorebirds, but found only seagulls. Chicago's skyline is in the horizon.

The water wasn't as pretty as I expected, but... we visited many "Dunes" and found much prettier the more north we went up Lake Michigans banks. More on that later...

We drove until we hit Ohio and found a Hotel. We were to meet our friends at 9:30 in the morning at Marblehead Lighthouse. "Jack" is a lighthouse connaiseur and this particular one is his favorite. It was the perfect place to meet.

Note: Pictures to be posted on Friday. Why not tomorrow? I've got Cubs tickets for thursdays game! Sorry! Why not prepost?
Quality, my friends...Haste makes... well, crappy posts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Trip to Chicago

Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor's first public outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city's famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a "gate" to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.

Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high. Cloud Gate sits upon the At&T Plaza, which was made possible by a gift from AT&T.

What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline…so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one's reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around.
-Anish Kapoor

This sculpture is affectionately known as "The Bean".

I've wanted to go to Millenium Park for years, just to see The Bean.

I am glad I did. I saw the pictures of it, but the experience was much more.

It was a great day for pictures with the clouds at Cloud Gate.

One of my favorite shots is this one.

How cool is it, that you can walk right through a sculpture and never take your eyes off it...

What a surprise to find The Bean has a very interesting underbelly that rises up unexpectantly.

The abstract images were fun to play with.

Finally, a shot of 2 Oompa Loompas on the loose are captured.