Welcome to my website news! Work continues on the website as I add new digitals from the past five years. I have started scanning my film images and have added wolves, more Lake Superior, grouse, owls, Florida, Arizona and Texas birds, western landscapes and more. I will note new uploads here as they are added. I am also writing for both the Marquette Mining Journal newspaper (back of the Outdoor section on Friday here) and the Marquette Monthly here - recently writing stories on dragonflies and damselflies in September, fungi and slime molds in October, wild turkeys for November, the Colors of Christmas for December, Waterfowl on the frozen shore in January and fish under ice in the current issue, in the past six issues. Thanks for visiting! Scot
May is my favorite month of the year. Bird migration is in full gear, tree flowers then wild flowers are blooming, there is an explosion of pastel colors of newly leafing trees on hillsides, sounds of singing birds by day and frogs by night and smells of rain, rich, moist soil and trailing arbutus. Migration also brings surprises - vagrants and other birds off course landing in the area to rest and refuel. The fourth ever Wilson's plover reported in Michigan was discovered at the mouth of the AuTrain River in Alger County May 9 by Scott Hickman. I took a gamble and drove down to find it and did with the help of two more friends, Bruce Ventura and Tina Hall. We live ain a wonderful community of skilled and appreciative birders, willing to share t heir discoveries. I spent an hour and a half watching it, especially as it foraged and did find some large insects to eat. II did resort to a trick that helped get some decent pictures - taking a knee and lowering my profile as it worked the beach and eventually came fairly close to where I was. It is great to feel that connection with a bird that is not upset with your presence and allows you a special few precious moments to observe it at close range. Cannot wait to see what today brings!
Wilson's Plover at the Mouth of the AuTrain River(click image to view others)
Wilson's Plover feedibng on a Rat-tail Maggot (hover fly) Larvae(click image to view others)
Spring finally seems to have winged its way to the Upper Peninsula. Most of the area seems to be losing its snow quickly - except the far northeastern part - especially aroujnd Tahquamenon Falls state Park where there seems to be at least a foot of snow still on the ground. With a drastic change of temperatures and wind today great things were expected at Whitefish Point with bird migration. Birders there were not diasppointed. Highlights for the day included two snowy owld, 1500+ sandhill cranes 139 rough-legged hawks, two golden eagles and a red-shouldded hawk. On my way home I found a light phase rough-legged Hawk on the Seney Stretch and a pair of cooperative common goldeneys in the Lower Harbor of Marquette. It is amazing how the arrive of spring puts its namesake in your steps!
Light Phase Rough-legged Hawk on the Seney Stretch (click image to view others)
Rough-legged taking off (click image to view others)
Common Goldeneye Pair (click image to view others)
Male in the reflections of the Ore Dock (click image to view others)
Today looked like a great Spring Day but it certainly did not fel like it. Icy daggers of wind seemed to rip through light jackets and reminded many winter was not going to give up its grip easily. Hiked down toward Wetmore Bog to see how a patch of round-lobed hepatica was doing. Found them last fall and have patiently (mostly) waited for the snow to come and go to see them bloom. Foudn two plants with their evergreen leaves raised off the duff, the rest are still plastered to the ground. After removing some leaves found some 1/2" tall sprouts bearing furry buds. Should ge ready this coming week" Went next to Wetmore Landing to the east and found some stunning ice chunks in varying stages of melting on the beach. The look like raw diamongs and transparent arborescent (leaf-like) copper.
Ice Chunk buffeted by a Wave (click image to view others)
Melting Ice Chunk (click image to view others)
More seesaw days - 50's yesterday, and more snow on the way tomorrow. Despite the weather, the birds are making their way back into our area, with up to four robins feeding on the soft, brown apples in our back yard. Peregrines ae sizing up the nest boxes at the local power plants. Vultures, grackles, red-winged blackbirds and woaterfowl are also easing in. Back at the Dead River hooded mergansers were spotted yesterday, so I haeaded back to see them. They were there, and two trumpeter swans back there too. I watched as they eased back in front of me again. With no food there, they began preening and I photographed their contortions. It was amazing to see how their necks facilitated their movements to perfect the alignments of their wing and back feathers. Had another wonderful, inspired spring afternoon watching this pair.
Trumpeter Swan preening back (click image to view others)
Preening with a Twist (click image to view others)
Preening in a Roll (click image to view others)
Spring seems to be knocking on the door. With ever longer periods of daylight and mild temperatures you can just feel the change(s) coming! I have begun hearing the subtle signs of the birds getting excited too. Chickadees are starting their singing and goldeneywes are displaying and sounding off. On the Dead River a pair of trumpeter swans have arrived again this winter as they did last year at this time. Not sure where they end up in the summer - no young were seen in the backwaters there, but they are a welcome sight in winter.
Their gentle honking and slow, grazeful glides across the glassy water just calm the soul. After hearing about their recent arrival I headed down there after an unsettle weekend and found them down river from the public access on Granite Street. Fortunatedly, I was not there too long before they hopped into the water and glided right down to where I was standing. Hoping they would swim closer, I got my camera out and was able to get a few shots. They were a welcome bit of grace on a gorgeous warm afternoon.
Trumpeter Swan Pair (click image to view others)
Landed Swan Pair (click image to view others)
Hello Hello!! This has just been a phenomenal weekend. Went with the family and some friends to Grand Island, in Munising Bay to the east today, to take a look at the amazingly beautiful ice formations on the cliffs there. It is a 3/4 mile hike across the ice on Lake Superior from the mainland to the island so it is a little intimidating - especially since several snowmobiles sunk out there last week and a hovercraft was sent to bring the snowmobilers back to shore. The ice is much safer this week due to continuing single digit temperatures and calm winds. There was a well-trod pathway to the cliffs, mostly across ice with a few inches of snow atop it, and by the time we headed back to shore, there were 30+ skiers, ice climbers, and hikers out there with us. Water continues to seep down the cliffs leaving plenty running over the surface on the ice close to the island's shore. With that we did find one soft spot with at least 4 feet of water directly below just a few feet from the island.
The water drips off the cliffs and freezes into remarkable columns, stalactites and curtains of blue, green and yellow. leaving walls, caves and other structures to explore. Sunrise may be the best time to visit, when the light is low and saturated and the colors of the ice are more intense. None-the-less, there is plenty to see. There was an American tree sparrow out there too foraging in the plants and rocks above the ice. It was a truly delightful day!
Just a note again about later this month. I will be doing a program for LSAA on February 20 at 7:00PM in the basement of the Peter White Public Library on abstracts, macros and a few new bird shots. I hope to see you there!
Ice Columns (click image to view others)
Ice Curtains (click image to view others)
Frozen Ice Streams (click image to view others)
The Teeth of Winter (click image to view others)
Despite the cold, being outdoors has been delightful. I visited a good friend today in the western part of the county who maintains one of the best feeding stations for birds in the U.P. She has the best place in the state to see evening grosbeaks, and plenty of other visitors like redpolls, gray jays, pine grosbeaks, common ravens and raptors. Today was no exception with a "quiet" day, but still plenty of good birds and behavior. Most everyone showed up while I was there, plus a very talented robin mimic. A starling sat in a nearby tree most of the time I was these doing his best impressions of a robin, a common grackle and I think a gray jay. Starlings are amazing and great at getting your hopes up. What a treat to see so many birds of color in the middle of winter! A couple of portraits are shown below.
Just a note again about later this month. I will be doing a program for LSAA on February 20 at 7:00PM in the basement of the Peter White Public Library on abstracts, macros and a few new shots. I hope to see you there!
Evening Grosbeak male (click image to view others)
Pine Grosbeak male (click image to view others)
Hi! February continues to be an amazing, beautiful and busy month! Longer sunny days have been a welcome respite from the darkness of January! With the clear, windless, sunny days and clear nights Lake Superior continues to freeze over, with more than 50% frozen now. So the lake effect snow machine is shutting down.
Scanning lots of slides during these winter days with new images added to white-tailed deer, coyotes, mountain goats, trees (my favorite sugar maple through the seasons now in North American Species), Moose, leaves, Olympic National Park, Lake Superior, and new categories for gray fox, and deer mouse. Scenics include Mesa Verde, Lake Superior and Alaska.
Just a note again about later this month. I will be doing a program for LSAA on February 20 at 7:00PM in the basement of the Peter White Public Library on abstracts, macros and a few new shots. I hope to see you there!
White-tailed Buck in Wet Meadow, Glacier National Park (click image to view others)
Coyote Portrait (click image to view others)
Hello again! Below are a pair of images of pine grosbeaks from yesterday. They are one of my favorite birds, brings great splashes of color in the middle of winter. Their tameness and soft warbly calls make them seem like long lost friends back for another visit.
Looking back at the barred owl shots posted yesterday and marveling at how the hemlock stand where it hunted was such a magical spot on a cold, snowy day. It added so much to the atmosphere of its hunting. There were several red squirrels it was watching, mostly without hope of a meal, even when one had its back to the owl just four feet away. Could have sat all afternoon watching, trying to figure out its thinking and strategies.
Lots of new mineral images were added to the website with new minerals - including Pharmcosiderite, Arthurite, Riebeckite, Picrolite, Zoisite and Metavariscite, and new images to Siderite, Prehnite, Dioptase, Conchalcite, Dumortierite, Brucite, Stibnite, Vesuvianite and Silver. Mammals shots were added to Mountain goats, Coyotes, Southern Flying Squirrels, Marsh Hares and Striped Skunk.
Just a note again about later this month. I will be doing a program for LSAA on February 20 at 7:00PM in the basement of the Peter White Public Library on abstracts, macros and a few new shots. I hope to see you there!
Pine Grosbeak male feeding in a Crab Apple Tree (click image to view others)
Quartet of Pine Grosbeaks in a Spruce (click image to view others)
A belated Hapy New Year to you all! I can't believe it is into the first week of February already. The past month and a half has been very busy! Besides great family events and writing, I have opened a show in the Lake Superior Art Asociation (LSAA) Gallery in the basement of the Peter White Library (PWPL) in Marquette that will run until the end of February. It is a bit of a retrospective show with some images from the days of wolves, birds, travels and some new work. I also did a program at MooseWood on U.P. natural history and led a walk for visiting students from Central America on Presque Isle and did an owl program in Marquette last Friday followed by a look for owls - we found a pair of great horned owls in north Marquette!
I was fortunate to be able to stop in at a friend's home yesterday who has a visiting barred owl showing up at his yard periodically. Below are some of those photos and the link to the rest. Today, in the continuing cold - aroudn 5 above, I found aa half dozen pine grosbeaks in town and will post some shots of them tomorrow. We have had some really cold stretches this winter, but it has been a beautiful season!
I will be doing a program for LSAA on February 20 at 7:00PM in the basement of the Peter White Public Library on abstracts, macros and a few new shots. I hope to see you there!
A hunting Barred Owl in the Hemlocks (click image to view others)
A hunting Barred Owl getting checked out by a Red Squirrel (click image to view others)
A hunting Barred Owl in Snowy Hemlocks (click image to view others)
Yesterday was Marquette's 70th annual Christmas Bird Cout. Not sure how many I have been a part, but I have done a bunch. I am always amazed at what is in the area, and what can be found if you send a dozen or so great birders out to find them. Alec Olivier and I searched the north side of a circle with a 7.5 mile radius, the protocol for the count. It is always great to bird with Alec because of his keen abilities to see and hear distant birds. I always get to see more when I am out with him.
We ended up with 28 species in our area plus a bit of "poaching', looking in the adjacent quarter. There we heard about a sharp-shinned hawk feeding on a starling in a friend's driveway. We also found both species of crossbills in our amazing city park, Presque Isle, more than 100 goldfinches feeding on spotted knapweed seeds in a field and a hooded merganser with over 400 mallards. Elsewhere in town there were three snowy owls, lots of bald eagles and pine grosbeaks. Still waiting on the final totals, but we will have somewhere around 50 species reported. We also count other species during the "Count week". Found a pair of glaucous and an iceland gull today so will see if they were around to be counted yesterday.
A Sharp-shinned Hawk feeding on a European Starling (click image to view others)
A Sharp-shinned Hawk feeding on a European Starling (click image to view others)
Autumn of 2017 has been a wonderful time in the Upper Peninsula. Weather has bee mostly mild, with several big storms of wind and some rain and snow. Pine grosbeaks, pine siskins, crossbills, common redpolls and snowy owls have invadd from the north despite the warm weather. We have had around a foot of snow this fall, but little is left at the moment.
I have found some late slime molds adding to a great seasson for them around school but one cold night, just one night around 20 degrees took care of nearly all that was left of the tree leaves still bearing any color. It was a bit disappointing but there have been some other great swurprises.
Traveling home Thanksgiving weekend we stopped at Bond Falls in Ontonagon County to take a peak at it in early "winter". Found some ice along the edges and plenty of water. Later we began driving toward a rainbow, just a small strip near the horizon. As we reached Ishpeming Township the sun must have hit 42 degrees above the horizon and the rainbow filled out, doubled and apparently tried to triple. We turned onto a small side road where we could stop, enjoy the view and photograph. The inside of the main rainbow contained additional layers of color. It was spectacular - a November rainbow! It prompeted the additona of a Rainbow category with the Aurora. I have also added new scans of old shots of the Aurora, clouds - lots of clouds, Lake Superior - Marquette, leaves, prairie dogs, wolves, moose and others.
Rainbow over the North Woods (click image to view others)
Rainbow over Lake Superior (click image to view others)
Rainbow over Marquette Lighthouse (click image to view others)
North Wind at Presque Isle (click image to view others)
I am beginning to know what Wilson Bentley felt like when he worked on his 46 year long collection of snow flakes, from 1885 until 1931 until when he finally published 2500 photographs in Snow Crystals, and his sudden death from Pneumonia a few months later after walking hom in a blizzard. Using an extremely large camera he perfected a system of catching individual snowflakes on black velvet and photographing them before they melted or sublimated back into vapor. Even though his equipment was primative by today's standards, his drive to photograph them resulted in a collection of over 5000 images. He spent two years perfecting his techniques using a microscope, bellows and camera.
I have not had much success with snow flakes but have become preoccupied with tree leaves, especially in fall as they change colors. In the late fall of 1981, I walked home one afternoon from school regretting the season was nearly over. I felt I had missed seeing and photographing most of the autumn colors. I remember kicking up a bright maple leaf on the ground and marveled at the color it retained, even as it decomposed there. It made me wonder how many more were still around, waiting to be noticed. The following day I picked up a few and began trying to photograph them. It quickly became apparent the best way to see the deep colors was by holding them up to the light. And so I began experimenting, and searching for more colorful, most interesting designs. The detail within a a small section, usually about the size of a postage stamp, often looks like a satellite view of a river using infrared technology. Small insects, miners and skeletonizers, leave other interesting patterns.
After photographing them, I often place them in a plastic bag in the fridge and look back at them in subsequent days to see how time continues to breakdown their pigments. This year has yielded some phenomenal patterns. Below are a few with links to the rest on the Other page under trees and leaves.
Red Maple Leaf in Decline, a few days after collecting (click image to view others)
Big-toothed Aspen Leaf with Skeletonizers (click image to view others)
Silver Maple Leaf (click image to view others)
This fall has been turbulent, fast and delightful. Unusual weather continued to be a prominent theme, with record setting warm temperatures followed by a huge low pressure system this past Tuesday, creating some of the biggest winds and waves over Lake Superior in a long time. I did get a few photographs of the waves on the Big Lake, found in the Upper Peninsula "Autumn" category of the "Other" page but they were under light conditions that did not lend themselves to great shots for me.
One of the results of the 50+mph sustained winds was the downing of many trees, and another the stripping of lots of tree leaves nearing the end of their fall color run. While making a trip around town to find some new oak leaves for close-up I did notice a grebe in the Lower Harbor. The stop developed into a chance to photograph both a horned and a red-necked grebe and a common mergansers feeding between the docks. All seemed rather comfortable close to the docks and the light was quite good. Great to watch them foraging together and seeing what they came up with. I have found them catching sticklebacks, perch and sculpin. Below are links to each of the species.
A common merganser stretching its wings. (click image to view others)
A horned grebe diving. (click image to view others)
A red-necked grebe (click image to view others)
10.25.17: Made a trip up to Echo Lake north of Marquette on Saturday. First time there in nearly 30 years! The property is now managed by the Nature Conservancy and is a truly beautiful, rugged area. The lake has a great, rocky white pine-topped peninsula jutting into it with a huge beaver lodge on its side. While the fall colors had unfortunately peaked, it was still a gorgeous 75 degree F, sunny day with ruby meadow hawk dragonflies zipping around, some as pairs.
We found some amazing northern red oak leaves with beautiful color pattern, some of the best I have seen in a long time. One even had a group of leaf skeletonizer and miner markings where larval insects had eaten patterns in the leaf cells between the two cuticles (outer layers of the leaf). I brought them home, but in just two days in the fridge, the colors faded immensely, to my dismay. Did get a few shots with links below.
Northern Red Oak Leaf with Leaf Miners and Skeletonizers (click image to view others)
Northern Red Oak Leaf (click image to view others)
9.29.17: Recently I found an area near school under eastern hemlocks and white birch where there were a number of fallen logs - birch and aspen, now missing their bark. Damp and dark, continuously wet with the recent and now intermitten rains the logs looked like promising places to look for fungi. The logs were filled with slime molds or covered with some bracket fungi. The slime molds were amazing as noted here earlier. The bracket fungi were ones I had seen before, but now seemed vibrantly "purplish". I shot some images, and in attempting to identify them for placement on the website found they were called violet-toothed polypore and their undersides appeared to have purple tooth-like structures. So I went back, curious to see what the other sides looked like. They were amazing! I shot more than 60 images - mostly while laying under this log that was propped up by a branch, about two feet off the ground. I returned the following day to shoot again and while again laying on the ground heard voices. A couple was walking a dog on a nearby trial, and approached, somewhat cautiously. I jumped up and told them they should see these amazing fungi and showed them some images on my camera. They appeared "relieved" - they said they though I had falled or was homeless (and sleeping under the log) and did not know what to expect. I have been continuing to return to this spot and have continued to find quieter times and amazing new developments on the logs.
Undersides of Violet-toothed Polypore bracket fungi. (click image to view others)
9.25.17: Since I wrote a story on dragonflies and damselflies last month for the Marquette Monthly, my apprecication and awareness of them has increased. Their aerobatics and design are true magic. I watched darners hunting on the shore of Lake Superior earlier this summer and have tried to grab some close-ups to show the design of their compound eyes and their overall construction as flying insect predators. The latest are at the end of the gallery.
Common Green Darner (click image to view others)
b>9.22.17: Tell someone you are excited about slime molds and I can guarantee you, they will give you an odd look. During the amazing show of fungi last fall in the Upper Peninsula I also found some amazing slime molds. This year has been even better and I have had a great opportunity to watch some growing on fallen logs near school. It has been difficult to restrain my enthusiam for them and I have probably bored a number of people rambling on about them. See some shots and decide what you think.
Juvenile and Mature Wolf's Milk or ToothPaste Slime Mold (click image to view others)
Mature Wolf's Milk or Tooth Past Slime Mold with Aethalia (click image to view others)
A species with no common name. Latin name is Hemitrichia calyculata (click image to view others)
8.28.17: My wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to make a two-week trip around Lake Superior this month, revisiting old favorite spots and exploring some new ones. Our weather was true true to the North, cool, and often wet, but the landscape, animals, plants and geology filled wioth signs of the PreCambrian Shield, and as we rode through most of the North Shore of Ontario, filled with aspen, spruce and wildlife of the Boreal Forest. I had jsut finished a story for the Marquette Monthly on dragonflies and damselflies so I was excited to photograph some meadowhawks and darners, getting some really close looks at their compound eyes, and their conformation in flight, especially they way they held their legs. The meadowhawks looked like rubies, but seemed out of their range. Amber spots on their wings leanwed away from white-faces. The darners were hunting along the Lake Superior shoreline in a large group and were a challenge to catch on the wing, but really fun to watch. I'll post more of the trip soon, including images of the amazing Lake Superior shore, other insects, a few mammals and lots of plants, including some Arctic Relics, plants normally found closer to Hudson's Bay, but happy along Lake Superior after being dragged down by the glaciers.
Female "Red" Meadowhawk (click image to view others)
Canada Darner in Flight (click image to view others)
7.31.17: I am always delighted when landscaping the yard attracts more wildlife. I planted some scarlet beebalm in an open area of wildflowers in the yard and with the help of a wet spring got a great row of flowers to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds. Currently a female and one youngster are visiting regularly and apparently fining enough other food to by-pas the hummingbird feeder most days. Been great to watch a rose-breasted grosbeak, brown thrasher cardinals, chickadees, hairy and downies around all afternoon. All together, had 28 species in and around the yard yesterday!
Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting Scarlet Beebalm (click image to view others)
7.30.17: Summer is such a great time of year for me - more time to photograph and more colorful subjects to discover. Breakfast - and who knew fruit had a bite?
Cantelope "Teeth" (click image to view others)
7.21.17: The past few weeks have provided a little time to do some m ineral collecting - made it on two great trips to the Republic and Champion Mines with the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club. Collected some neat pieces for the classroom of brecciated specular hematite-barite-quartz crystals at Republic and some interesting molybdenite-magnetite and pyrite-magnetite at the Champion. Have added some other mineral pictures of realgar, plumbogummite, aurichalcite, brochantite, calcite, celestine, crococite, cuprite, cyanotrichite, fossils, gold, gormanite, hematite, psilomelane, zinkecite too.
Realgar with Quartz, Pyrite and Galena (click image to view others)
Gold with Quartz (click image to view others)
7.15.17: Travelling to Illinois to see family recently provided an opportunity to get out and wander a few prairies, especially the Orland Grasslands in Cook County. It is a beautiful restored area with lots of dickcissels, eastern meadowlarks, grasshopper, field and Henslow's sparrows. It is a step back in time to walk up a hill surrounded only by tall grass prairie, and in the spare momentss devoid of overhead jets really seems like the 19th century there. The compass plants were just starting to bloom and were spectacular. I also roamed through the LaPorte Road Forest Preserve and the Plank Road Trail in Will County. The Plank Road is a former railline, now a trail with restored prairie, a good friend Dr. Bill Zales and my father helped establish. Added most all the prairie plants in the wildflowers from this trip. From the Laporte's great birds was able to add to the eastern bluebirds, indigo buntings, field sparrows, house wrens and eastern towhees.
Purple Prairie Clover (click image to view others)
Quartet of Compass Plants (click image to view others)
Indigo Bunting on Goldenrod (click image to view others)
6.27.17: This spring seems to have been good for warblers, despite the wet, cool conditions prevailing most of this season. Despite the rain, blackflies have not been overly oppressive, mosquitoes lighter too, at least in some areas. Trips to Kate's/Ross's Grade in southern Marquette County, Peshekee Grade in the western part of the county, and areas in Alger County provided some great opportunities to hear and occasionally see black and white, Canada, Nashville, golden-winged, magnolia, chestnut-sided warblers and redstarts. Also have run across yellow-bellied flycatchers, rose-breasted grosbeaks and common ravens with some great unique calls. At the intersection of Co. Rd 438 and Ross's grade found a female evening grosbeak with a small family of purple finches gritting - picking up sand amd small gravel to aid digestion. They were persistent and remained at the same spot for more than half an hour.
Canada Warbler (click image to view others)
Nashville Warbler (click image to view others)
Evening Grosbeak gritting - consuming sand to help with digestion (click image to view others)
4.22.17: The season has inched along in lurches and backslides. Each spurt of warmthe coaxes a new sprout or bud to unfurl and reveal some delicate new jewel. Took a run out to Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site State Park in Alger County. I went looking for the blossoms of the round-lobed hepatica I used to find there. No luck. We did visit the falls and found some beautiful delicate blossoms of the American hazelnut. I really am drawn to tree flowers, so overlooked in the spring. The purple female flowers of the hazelnut are amazing! The size is difficult to discern because the spider web is from a really tiny species.
American Hazelnut Flower (click image to view others)
4.6.17: Spring migrants are arriving at a great pace in the Upper Peninsula, making each day a present to be opened to see what is inside! Made a trip around town in the late afternoon. It was extremely windy, with gusts to 30mph out of the south east forcing many birds into quieter locations. Ducks were all hunkered down near vegetation, except for some mallards put up by an adult bald eagle along the Dead River near the mouth on Lake Superior. Hooded mergansers came flying in after the eagle left. A turkey vulture flying low near the lake seemed to really enjoy the winds off the water. I was delighted to find an American tree sparrow at a feeding station in the woods near the river but even more surprised to find a female American kestrel on apower line near the river. Merlins are relatively common around town, but the kestrels are usually easier to find in the open fields south of town. Can't wait to see what comes in next with the promise of more warm weather in the next few days!
Female American Kestrel (click image to view others)
3.30.17: I love traveling in springtime. It is like slicing into a pie to see what will come next. I made a trip to northern Illinois this past week and although it was a cloudy nearly the entire time, warmer temperatures there were encouraging lots of springtime activity. Bird migration, being more advanced to the south brought turkey vultures, kinglets, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, dark-eyed juncos, eastern phoebes and other summer residents not seen since last fall. Leaf-out hadn't started yet but grass was greener, ponds all open and red-osier dogwood and other plants were sporting much more colorful bark. It was a shock to return to Marquette and still see so much snow in the yard.
Continuing to add lots of new shots - spent some time with a song-filled Carolina wren in Illinois, ducks, including scaup, bufflehead, canvasback and American wigeon in Wisconsin and two different jelly fungi on fallen branches in Illinois. I alaso photographed red-bellied woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, and white-breasted nuthatches in Illinois.
Back home I have been adding more mineral images - amethyst, quartz with pyrite, esperite, azurite, stibnite with apophyllite,algondonite, silver, eudialyte and pseudomalachite. It is a busy time of year and my favorite.
Carolina Wren (click image to view others)
Quartz with Pyrite (click image to view others)
Eudialyte with Magnesio-Arfvedsonite and Albite (click image to view others)
3.6.17: Spring is being a tease. Up to the fifties some days, then back to winter and snowstorms and white-outs. Maple sap is running, northern cardinals, house finches and mourning doves are singing. Common redpolls are still hitting area feeders. It is a seesaw of emotions.
Been continuing to scan photographs, many from trips out west to Glacier National Park, the Wind River Mountains, Arches and Yellowstone. See the national parks category on the "Other" page.
I also found one of my favorite photos, a shot of fireworks over Marquette's Mattson Park from (yikes) 1987. A thunder storm had just passed and as I grabbed a shot a got a surprise I didn't realize until the slides came back. It is a single shot - no sandwich or major manipulation - just sharpening and a bit of cropping.
Fourth of July in Marquette (click image to view others)
1.7.17: Winter has seesawed back and forth the past two months from early autumn weather to brutal, freezing temperatures and heavy snow. It just can't make up it mind. This weekend the temperates have struggled to stay above zero and today a stiff 20-25 mph wind made it feel even more like the Arctic. A growing flock of bohemian waxwings (and a couple of cedar waxwings too) have been making the rounds to Marquette's large selection of crab apple trees looking for the perfect fruit. Waxwings like slightly smaller crab apples and often stop in the trees on the southeast side of the Marquette County courthouse in early winter. That is where these were.
Part of a waxwing flock diving into crab apple trees for food (click image to view others)
Group of bohemian waxwings roosting (click image to view others)
12.3.16: December eased onto the woods here like the rest of Autumn, quietly, and warmly. We have our typical gray overcast skies, but it is a relaxed weather that would still like to wrap itself around you. 40's have turned to 30's but it still seems mild.
I have been excited by just about everything lately with a whim of pattern to it so I pulled out a box with a pair of chambered nautilus halves in it. An wonderful friend, George Wilson had given it to me more than 30 year ago but it looks brand new and beautiful. I have put a few shots on the Abstracts category on the Other Page today.
Chambered Nautilus (click image to view others)
11.29.16: Light is what photography is all about. How light plays on surfaces, influences colors makes every day a new experience. This is especially true when it comes to chemical structures in feathers, rocks and other beautiful parts of the world exhibiting special effects like iridescence or labradorescence, like Anorthite, also know as labradorite. This mineral. Ove Balthasar Beggild described the effect of light on this mineral this way, "Labradorization is the peculiar reflection of the light from submicroscopical planes orientated in one direction (rarely in two directions); these planes have never such a position that they can be expressed by simple indices, and they are not directly visible under the microscope." Look at a piece of this mineral and it may appear cream colored or brownish, but turn it a bit or shine a light on it and an amazing change occurs turning it into a dazzling display of gold, blue green or other iridescent like colors.
I was able to photograph several and seemed to drift into an entirely new world. Capturing the effect is not easy, but when I could, I was in heaven!
Labradorite (click image to view others)
Labradorite (click image to view others)
11.16.16: Wow! It's mid-Novermber and there are still a ton of opportunities to catch late Autumn phenomenons. Today was a great, multi-project day. With the mild weather there have been a number of late migrants and vagrants across the Upper Peninsula. A late ruby-throated hummingbird, a late black-bellied plover and a cattle egret have been the latest great birds to be seen in Marquette. There are still some fall leaves around too. I found a really interesting northern catalpa in my back yard to photograph for my leaf detail series too with a really different white border to some of the leaf cells. Both with links are below.
Cattle Egret in Marquette (click image to view others)
Northern Catalpa leaf close-up (click image to view others)
11.6.16: Hello! What an amazing fall here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! In the 70's today! Best kind of weather for visitors from the tropics. A fork-tailed flycatcher was found in Menominee Co. Thursday and great weather made it easy for it to stick around through the weekend feeding on insects (there were plent- shieldbugs, sulfur butterflies, dragonflies and midges) and red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) berries. These inmages are from Saturday November 5!
Fork-tailed Flycatcher with tail stretched and open (click image to view others)
Fork-tailed Flycatcher with shieldbug (click image to view others)
Fork-tailed Flycatcher taking off (click image to view others)
10.18.16: Late arrivals continue in Marquette this fall. REcently a group of nine black-bellied plovers and one American golden-plover arrived and have been seen daily at the mouth of the Dead River in Marquette. Their arrival is late in the season for both and their stay here has been longer than would be expected.
Two Black-bellied Plovers getting photo-bombed on the beach by a third (click image to view others)
Black-bellied Plover (click image to view others)
7.28.16: Hello Again! Adding more 35mm scans and a few new shots to the website. A great number of wolf images are now added to the Others page, along with some of my favorite water images to the Lake Superior & Water section. Some new minerals, Clinohedrite, Babingtonite and Diopside have been added with new images of Rhodonite, Arsenopyrite, Hematite.
Wolf Running in the Shadows (click image to view others)
Frost crystals on a Tamarack Branch (click image to view others)
Male Wolf Portrait (click image to view others)
7.27.16: Hello and greeting from mid-summer! Seems like the season is just rocketing past! Lots of hot weather here in the Upper Peninsula - really! 80's and 90's and thunderstorms. The birds are definitely quieting down, although we have been blessed with a red-eyed vireo and a song sparrow serenading us daily still and have sporatic songs from a northern cardinal, mourning dove and a northern flicker.
Thanks to a scanner at the Marquette Monthly office I have begun scanning my 35mm slides and adding images to the website. Nearly all the grouse and owl species have additions or new entries. Others include Brant, Black Vulture, about half the Hawks, Yellow, Clapper and Virginia Rail, Golden Eagle and Least Bittern. Work now beginning on the Wolves. New scans will begin soon on my Lake Superior and National Park images.
Snowy Owl on Green Garden Hill (click image to view others)
Great Gray Owl on Sugar Island (click image to view others)
Greater Prairie Chicken at Sunrise at Buena Vista Marsh, WI(click image to view other)
7.15.16: Photographing minerals, especially portions of my Franklin, NJ fluorescent ones has been continuing. I have especially liked a couple of close-ups that remind me of shots from outer space.
Other new mineral images have been added to Amber, Aurichalchite, Brazilianite, Chondrodite, Cornitite, Fluorite, Franklinite, Hauckite, Hedbergenite, Kyanite, Siderite, Sulfur, Topaz, Uvarovite and Zincite.
Hydrozincite under Ultraviolet SW light (click image to view others)
Grossularite with Willemite, Hardystonite and Clinohedrite(click image to view others)
7.11.16: After finishing a program at the MooseWood Nature Center I stopped to look for shorebirds at the mouth of the Dead River on the way home. No shorebirds, maybe the young peregrines were practicing their flight manuevers off the top of on of the building at the power plant across the street. I almost missed the family of common mergansers resting at the water's edge.
Eventually they headed back into the water and immediately began hunting. The adult began scanning underwater and seemed to find a small school of fish as she swung around and seen to direct the underwater targets toward the three youngsters. They provideded a number of entertaining charges both above and below the water chasing their prey until they rounded the tip of the sandbar where they had been resting.
I was surprised at how much the young resembled chinstrap penguins as they tottered across the beach with their wings flapping.
Common Merganser family at the Dead River, Marquette (click image to view others)
7.4.16: Nothing will make a birder's heart race more than to come home from a trip and hear of an extremely rare bird being in the vicinity whil you were gone - especially one more than a 1000 miles from home. I came home to news of a northern crested caracara, a tropical falcon reported in Munising. Within an hour I was back out, on my way to see if it was still around. Fortunately it has remained for several days giving birders from across the state an opportunity to see it and watch it hunt insects along the edges of a large mowed field.
Summer surprises in the Upper Peninsula are often particularly amazing with a number of tropical visitors here in recent years. Birds like these also offer the opportunity to meet with other great birders and catch up on adventures and birds in other places!
Northern Crested Caracara (click image to view others)
6.27.16: Early summer is the best in the Upper Peninsula! One of my favorite places to go is Seney National Wildlife Refuge near Seney, MI in Schoolcraft County. I drove down with again with Alec Olivier. We checked the Driggs Road area for black-backed woodpeckers without success but found plenty of loons and trumpeter swans on the interior pools at the refuge. We found one family at the start of the Marshlands Autoloop and a very cooperative female a bit farther on. Wilson's snipes were still displaying too, one of my favorite sounds there in June, or anytime for that matter. Only heard one kingfisher - they seem to be dwindling there and no bald eagles are nesting along the loop either. We did see three active osprey nests. Swamp milkweed, roses and irises blooming, it was a great day to be there!
Common Loon Family (click image to view others)
Common Loon (click image to view others)
6.24.16: Early June is a great time to look for warblers in the central U.P. Alec Olivier, good friend and excellent birder and I took a trip down to Kates Grade along the Marquette-Dickinson County border. We questioned our choice of locations when we opened the windows to listen for songs. We were immediately greeted by large numbers of hungry mosquitoes. Wow! There were lots! Luckily they quieted down a little after 8:00 and we were able to get out an look and listen. It was a beautiful morning - heard northern waterthrush, common yellowthroats, blackburnian, Nashville, and finally a golden-winged warbler, one we were hoping to see. Also heard a scarlet tanager among others and caught up with a snowshoe hare along the road right in front of us. Later we found several sets of dropping on the road and they were prime mineral licks for white admirals and tiger swallowtail butterflies. It was amazing to see so many fighting over the sites. On the way out we found a yellow-bellied flycatcher to top off the trip.
Golden-winged Warbler (click image to view others)
Tiger Swallowtail, White Admirals and Northern Crescents (click image to view others)
5.4.16: Being outside always brings surprises for the watchful eye. While preparing feeding stations at Presque Isle Park for a MooseWood Nature Center Birding Festival event this Saturday, a red fox appeared and casually surveyed the birds there and then proceeded to my other station to check the menu there. It was clear it was familiar with the neighborhood and not too concerned with the regular traffic on the Island.
Red Fox (click image to view others)
4.30.16: Spring and Autumn sunrises can be spectacular - especially over Lake Superior. This morning the sky was filled with mixed clouds and openings, a good sign. The eastern horizon was soon aflame with amazing colors to start the day in dramatic fashion.
Sunrise over Lake Superior in Marquette (click image to view others)
4.27.16: Birding has been slowed this spring by unseasonable temperatures and some record snowfall in April. STill, migration has been eeking along. Traveled to Whitefish Point to check on hawk, waterbird and songbird migration there. Near McMillan this morning we found a group of nine sandhill cranes feeding in a field with a large group of crows. More crows were mobbing a red-tailed hawk in a stand of trees nearby. The cranes occasionally danced and chased each other around and were still present at the end of the day when we returned to Marquette from the Point.
At the Point there were plenty of red-tail, broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks rising out of the forest south of thd Point bound for Canada. We missed a golden eagle seen at the Hawk Dune later in the day. There was a huge wave of ruby-crowned kinglets around that made the day really fun!
Sandhill Cranes (click image to view others)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (click image to view others)
4.5.16: The Upper Peninsula spring is full of surprises. With more than 32 inches of snow over the past week the area is 27 inches above average. Cold morning have come with the late winter package producing some amazing frost crystal formation on my front door. The fine detail is only highlighted with the rising sun, providing an amazing three dimensional perspective to these miniature crystals. It is one of the best parts of cold mornings.
Winter (click image to view others)
4.2.16: Spring time trips southward are also met with great anticipation - migration is underway and finding how far different species have moved northward is always fascinating. With leaves still on the way viewing smaller birds is much easier. Local birds have begun calling and too can be much more easily found. While photographing bloodroots one of the first spring emphemeral flowers a singing tufted titmouse was heard. Fortunately I was able to get a few shots at the edge of a maple-oak woods in a Will County Forest Preserve.
Tufted Titmouse (click image to view others)
3.31.16: Harlequin Ducks are one of the most colorful duck species in North America. Residents of both coasts in winter and mountain rivers in summer, they rarely appear in the Midwest. Marquette has been fortunate to host several in the past few months. One with basic plumage was found by Alec Olivier at the Presque Isle Bogwalk last October. Two males were found in the Lower Harbor this March, appearing and reappearing from time to time over several weeks. Their feeding habits of much diving and feeding areas along rock walls may have helped them remain unnoticed many days. They appearing along the rocks at Mattson Park in town recently near dusk. I returned the next morning in the light of the rising sun and had them land in front of me minutes after my arrival. Not shy they swam to the rocks where I stood and feed along the edge for nearly an hour, stopping to preen briefly before resuming their dives right in front of me not eight feet away. It was a great oportunity to watch as it was even possible to watch them underwater in Superior's clear depths.
Harlequin Duck (click image to view others)
3.30.16: Plumbogummite from China can contain surprising array of colors as they cover another mineral, pyromorphite. Mineral details are often as amazing as the color, form and design of the landscape where they are found. Plumbogummite can vary in color throughout a variety of pastels and smetimes resembles small stalactites. I have bee adding to my mineral specimens gallery almost daily and have included some of the detail shots in the Abstracts category at the top of the "Other" page. This one is my favorite.
Plumbogummite (click image to view others)
12.6.15: Despite the lack of snow, birds have been very active in western Marquette County. Feeders in Diorite have been active with Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Gray Jays, Nuthatches and Chickadees. Bald Eagles and Hawks have also been active there. Below is one of the Downy Woodpeckers seen there yesterday.
Downy Woodpecker (click image to view others)
11.16.15: With birding slowing down my work has turned more to abstract and mineral photography. Go to the Other Page to see more.
Chrysocholla and Malachite (click image to view others)
Soap Bubbles (click image to view others)
6.19.15: Summer is just two days away on the calender, but the day started out at 36 degrees in a number of places. Made a trip to Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Schoolcraft County to see how the young of the year were faring. A great blue heron was fishing at the mouth of the Sand River on the Marquette-Alger County line and the sky was a peachy pink. Had to stop. How often I have found beautiful sights on my way somewhere else! Stopped at the west side of Seney at a recent prescribed burn conducted by the refuge, and was rewarded to find one of the black-backed woodpeckers others have recently found there. Seney is always a great spot in June. The Wilson's snipes are still displaying, the young swans have hatched and are circling around their parents and the kingbirds are loud! Plenty of muskrats carring material to their homes and one pair of young loons on the first pool on the loop too. It was a great day on the Marshland Drive at the refuge!
Great Blue Heron (click image to view others)
Black-backed Woodpecker (click image to view others)
Eastern Kingbird (click image to view others)
4.27.15: Recent cooler weather has really slowed down much of April migration. But that hasn't slowed down the territorial, courtship and nesting behavior of birds already here. Woodpeckers have filled the are with their drilling and drumming. In the area wher I have been watching turkeys I recently heard three different pileated and two hairy woodpeckers calling and drilling resonating trees. The turkeys were strutting too making it a very spring-like afternoon despite tempertaures hovering around 40 degrees F. Herring gulls ae mating at the Dead River mouth and South Beach in Marquette, a peregrine is sitting on egg at the Presque Isle Power Stationand a pair of great horned owls nesting in a church in town have two nearly full sized chicks. Can't wait for the rest of the birds to get here from further south!
Pileated Woodpecker (click image to view others)
4.16.15: Migration is an amazing event as millions of birds and insects head north to spend the summer. As residents return to fill their summer niches, some are forced to stop and recharge their energy stores, some realize they did not end up where they intended, stopping to regroup and others need a stop to deal with physical problems like illness, injury and disease. A tundra swan made a stopped yesterday at a small town pond of Marquette. A closer examination of the bird showed it was having difficulties with its left eye, due either to an accident, difformity or disease. It stayed on a second day after arriving, sitting, feeding and swimming closely with a lone Canada goose. Many tundras stay in the Cheseappeake Bay area and other East Coast estuaries during the winter and return in spring to their summer range across the northern tier of Canada and Alaska. Unlike the trumpeter swan, a Michigan nester, the tundra swan is only a rare visitor to the Upper Peninsula, often seenonly in flight during migration. A few do stop in eastern U.P. farm fields to feed as they head north. It is always a wonder guessing the fate of such an animal on an amazing voyage.
Tundra Swan (click image to view others)
4.15.15: Some birds always seem mysterious. Brown creepers meet that criterion by both name and behavior. They always seem to be on the move, leaving little time to study or enjoy their unique design. They are predictable in their approach to a tree - always heading up. But their choice of trees is never a sure thing. Usually they move through a stand of trees, rarely returning to one a second time. This creeper returned to several trees time and time again today allowing a great opportunity to see and photograph it. While hunting it found the largest larvae I have ever seen a creeper eat. Click on the link to see it and other images of the creeper in action.
Brown Creeper (click image to view others)
4.4.15: A quick trip to the Chicago area offered the chance to catch a slightly more advanced version of spring. With temperatures soaring into the mid-60's it offered a wonderful break from freezing temperatures and the snow left behind in the Upper Peninsula. A trip to a local nature center in Cook County brought an opportunity to see a young red-headed woodpecker and later the same day in a nearby forest preserve, a group of three more adults. As it has become more and more difficult to find them in the U.P. it was a thrill to see four in a single day. Occasionally they appear as vagrants, but usually disappear in a day or two. During the next few days there flocks of kinglets, brown creepers, a hermit thrush and a pair of cackling geese were also seen. Returning north, American white pelicans were seen returning to the Green Bay WI area and a number of tundra swans were also seen heading north and west.
Red-headed Woodpecker (click image to view others)
3.30.15: While spring migration is beginning to bring early birds back to the Upper Peninsula, birds like ring-billed gulls, sandhill cranes, red-wing blackbirds and common grackles, other birds, winter visitors, are heading "home" too. Visitors from the boreal forest and the tundra - winter finches and owls have been visiting the northern states and are now northbound. A northern hawk owl stopped off at the Sturgeon River Slough near Chassell in Houghton County last Wednesday and found enough food to stick around. Found it on Saturday afternoon near the entrance to the slough and watched it for about five hours. Eventually, after making a number of dives to the ground after food, it successfully caught what appeared to be a meadow vole. Unable to successfully eat it atop the whip-like tamarac tops it flew to a stand of more substantial trees across the road to feed, then returned to the slough to continue hunting. A number of birders arrived as the shadows grew in time to see the owl successfully catch two more voles. It eventually chose to hunt from trees very close to the observation area at the slough. With sandhills calling in the background and the snow slowly melting to reveal open water and bare ground, it was a great spring day.
Northern Hawk Owl (click image to view others)
3.24.15: A slaty-backed gull arrived in Marquette Sunday, and has been seen at three different locations along the Lake Superior shoreline. It doesn't spend much time close to shore, making photographs difficult, but it sure has been fun to watch, being such a rarity in the Great Lakes. Several recent images have been added to the slaty-backed gull page. The arrival of ring-billed gulls is one of the first signs of spring here so their presence with the slaty-back has also been fun. Images of them have also been added.
Slaty-backed Gull (click image to view others)
3.18.15: Turkeys! Had a little time this afternoon to get out in the sunshine and look for wild turkeys. Found a great flock of 24 south of Marquette and an opportunity to get a few nice shots. Added them to the Wild Turkey spot on the Birds page.
Wild Turkey (click image to view others)
3.16.15: Hello Everyone. Thank you for visiting my webpage. Recently I added additional pine grosbeaks, bohemian waxwings and redpolls. It has been a great winter for winter finches in Marquette and the rest of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Hoary Redpoll (click image to view others)