One Surprise After Another

August 22, 2019

It’s been a productive and surprising picture week—and it’s only Thursday! On some of the days this week, I ‘tripled up’ and went to three different places in one day! So I had hundreds and hundreds of pictures to go through, all of which needed cropping, editing and sorting—or deleting! It’s an enjoyable process, but time consuming.

American Goldfinch

My favorite part of the editing process is looking at the pictures on my computer screen and seeing everything up close. I’ve found some of the most surprising things during this process– like learning that dragonflies will eat each other and that they are sometimes covered with miniscule mites, that butterflies can still  fly in spite of missing much of their wing mass and that our fair state of Michigan has cuckoos (or maybe that isn’t such a surprise!!).

Blue Dasher Dragonfly
The underside of this dragonfly appears to be covered with hundreds of mites!!
Black-billed Cuckoo
Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, Bellevue, Michigan

This past week was filled with a variety of other kinds of surprises as well. I found out that just by standing on my back deck taking pictures, I could ‘capture’ more birds than I ever could on a picture walk! In just two hours, I photographed fourteen different kinds birds! If I had waited longer, I expect that all the neighborhood birds would have eventually come by for a portrait shoot!

On my way home from a different kind of photo shoot, I was surprised to find a young red-tailed hawk down on the ground beside a busy road. As soon as I could find a place to park, I went back to see what I could do. Since I had neither a towel nor a box to rescue the bird with,  I called my husband to see if he could help. We were hoping to take the bird to a local bird rehab specialist. Fortunately, when Mel arrived and subsequently approached the hawk to cover it up and put it in a box, the bird was able to fly into a nearby tree! It wasn’t going to need a trip to rehab after all!

Another surprise was the weird looking duck I saw at the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary in Bellvue, Michigan. I had been hoping the bird was one I hadn’t seen before, but when I got home and was able to do some research, I thought it might be a juvenile male Wood Duck. Later, on Facebook, another person posted a similar picture and also called it a juvenile male Wood Duck. They were informed that it was “an adult male wood duck in “eclipse plumage“. Eclipse plumage??? Apparently, the bird was NOT a juvenile, because “immature males wouldn’t have the red eyes yet.” My ‘weird’ looking duck had red eyes, so I guess it was ‘eclipsing’ rather than being immature! Who knew??

My ‘weird’ duck that turned out to be a male Wood Duck in ‘eclipse plumage’
Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, Bellevue, Michigan
Wild Turkey family at the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary

On my walk yesterday, along the Paul Henry–Thornapple River Trail in Middleville, Michigan, I was surprised to see a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Solitary Sandpiper. I don’t remember seeing them here in Michigan before and I’ve never seen them along the Paul Henry River Trail. I also saw a Common Green Darner dragonfly. My Google search informed me that this insect is “North America’s most common dragonfly”! For me, it’s actually the least common! I hardly ever see them and when I do, they rarely stop for pictures. This one, for whatever reason, was crawling out of the water –and easy to photograph!

Lesser Yellowlegs
Paul Henry–Thornapple River Trail, Middleville, Michigan
Solitary Sandpiper
Paul Henry–Thornapple River Trail
Common Green Darner
Paul Henry–Thornapple River Trail
Blanding’s Turtle
Blanding’s Turtles are “…considered to be an endangered species throughout much of its range. They are of interest in longevity research, as they show no common signs of aging and are physically active and capable of reproduction into eight or nine decades of life. Blanding’s Turtles are also fully protected in Michigan as a special concern species, and are not to be collected or harmed.”
Female Wood Ducks
Look at the size of the back foot on this little turtle!!
Paul Henry–Thornapple River Trail

Keep your eyes and ears open! There are so many wonderful surprises out there!

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