Birds of the Everglades

It has been a few weeks since I have posted due, in part, to Michigan’s perpetual dark-cloud winter and a fractured collarbone. Last week we were able to visit friend Pat in Naples, Florida. During the visit we were able to take a photo safari to the Everglades. Our trip was focused (pun intended) on photographing some of the unbelievable rich diversity of Everglades’ birds. Here is a bit of what we saw.


Great Blue Heron

great white

Great White Heron






Yes, this was shot with a telephoto lens from a safe distance.

feather afloat

Floating Feather


Women’s March

This merry band of 6 went to the Women’s March in Lansing, Michigan. Thanks to Christie for the group selfie. (I am in the back right, next to Joanne; my spouse.) I believe the crowd was well over 10,000. It was a congenial group, but also very fired up. It was a diverse group in issues, ages, race, and many other things; but also a group in solidarity. In many ways the gathering was a healthy outlet for anger and a time of comforting of fears. I do believe this reaction to the words and deeds of Donald Trump will continue for some time. Incidentally if you haven’t seen Ashley Judd’s recitation of a 19-year olds’ poem, it is well worth the time. I like the part where she describes Trump as “a man who looks like he bathed in Cheeto dust.”

There were thousands of signs. “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign / Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind / Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?…” . They were a bit of a challenge for picture taking due to the crowd and the seemingly constant movement of the signs, but here are some of my favorite:




Clarion Call


Resistance Call




At least to Many






Multi-Issue (made me smile)


Ready for Action




Politically Engaged


My Favorite




10 out of 10,000

Over the last four years I have taken well over 10,000 photos. I have many favorites, but worked hard to very subjectively narrow this post to 10. The captions for each picture will give you the context, the month and year, and why that particular shot is one of my favorites. I couldn’t rank them, so I decided to show them in chronological order. I hope you enjoy both the photos and the back stories.


This shot was from a trip with friend Pat to Binder Park Zoo. The “yelp” of the peacock sounds very much like a child crying out for “help”. I followed this particular peacock around until the background was right and the majestic male let out his call. May 2013


Morning light and dramatic shadows drew me to this shot at the Naples Botanical Gardens in Naples, Florida. The grasshopper like creature is a 4″ long lubber. I had a 16 x 20 print on metal made of this shot from May 2014.


I was walking through our front yard garden on the way into our house when I did a double-take at this sight. I quickly got my camera in hopes that the tiny toad would still be resting in this daisy. It was, so I took a few pictures. This is not a photo shop image. It is presented “as was” in July 2014.


This image and the next were taken on another visit to Naples, Florida to spend time (and take pictures, of course) with my friend Pat. This image was taken at the beginning of a beautiful sunset when enough light was still getting through under the pier. It was a somewhat involved shot because of the still bright sun and the much darker shadows. I took a few shots before I got one I liked in March 2015.


This menacing image was take in a trip to the Everglades. It comes with a story. Pat was driving and I was on the passenger’s side. We made frequent stops at open areas in the dense glades to catch images of rare birds and not-so-rare gaters. At one stop. I began to step down, but stopped when I heard a hiss. A 12-foot gater was letting me know that if I stepped on his tail (which I would have without the timely alert) there might be consequences. I pulled my foot back in the vehicle and suggested Pat pull forward a few feet. This shot was taken at 300mm on my zoom less from the safety of a bridge. March 2015


In one of our gravel road travels, Pat and I were given directions to this old railroad trestle bridge. The setting was quite magical and we had to work hard to find open shots that did justice to the beauty of this spot. July 2015.


This cat was behind a rather dirty window in an antique shop that was not yet open. His penetrating stare never let up as I took a few shots. July 2015.


Pat and I usually try to get out for the morning golden hour; that hour just after sunrise. You can sometimes see some of the same enriched color in the evening golden hour before sunset. Pat was driving this particular fall morning when I excitedly told her to look. She looked, stopped, backed up, and pulled into a driveway. We were treated to about 15 minutes of a world of gold. The morning mist only enhanced the magical quality of this morning. This was my favorite shot from the day. I deliberately blocked the sun enough for the gold to show through, but hoped that I could also get the sunburst rays. It worked . . . at least to me. October 2015


For over two years I hunted for a quality shot of the Sandhill Crane. They are a skittish bird and usually fly away if they see you coming towards them from even a couple hundred yards away. When they fly, their silhouette looks like a prehistoric bird in flight. I was able to slowly move to within 20 yards of this regal bird because someone was feeding them and they were used to humans. Up close, the Sandhill Crane is really a magnificent bird. October 2015


This image was captured at the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Mi. This still life image of limes hanging in front of a large clay pot caught my eye for its color contrast, its symmetry, and the textures. If you look closely, you can even see a water droplet on the lower lime. May 2016.


I took this close-up of a trumpeter swan at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to Canadian geese, the more common mute swan, rarer trumpeter swans, and a very rare black Australian swan. I stayed at one spot long enough that this trumpeter swam by close enough for me to catch this wary-eyed profile (with my 55-300mm zoom lens). I love the detail, the gaze, and the sun reflection off the swan’s nose. November 20016


I’ll sign off for 2016 with this 2014 golden hour “selfie” of my elongated shadow. 2016 is a shadow now. Hopefully 2017 will bring all of us many golden hours.



We had a combined Christmas and Thanksgiving day (Thanksmas) with our two oldest and their families that started at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. We toured the conservatory gardens and admired the Christmas trees that were decorated in the manner of countries around the world. We had a picnic style lunch at the Gardens, viewed an indoor statue display, and then headed to our middle son’s house where we hung out and enjoyed a grilled-in-the-snow pork tenderloin. Here are a few shots from the Meijer Gardens.


A Cactus from Above


Church Light


Wishing Pond Tributary


Wish-Snatching Money-Grabbing Leaf

Trumpets in the Sky

Once your hear the unique cry of Trumpeter Swans, it’s a sound you won’t forget. The Trumpeter population was nearly extinct in the early 20th century with a population in the U.S. of less than 70. Re-introduction of the species to its former range has been very successful with nearly 800 now living in  Michigan. You can find YouTube videos of the Trumpeter Swans’ honks and cries, but it is not quite the same as the inperson, noisy take-off and landings of these trumpets in the sky.


The Trumpeter Swan is very large, with wingspans and body lengths as long as 6 feet. This image gives you some idea of heir comparative size.


While graceful in the sky, take-offs and splashdowns are often both noisy and awkward appearing.


In Flight


Synchronized Swim Team


Committee Meeting


Head Shot


Glam Shot


Having gone to college in upstate New York. I love authentic Buffalo wings. But this post will take a rather intricate look at swans’ wings (although I have a great recipe for Buffalo Wings!). These wing images come from a 60 minute trip to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary run by Michigan State University, I have other pictures I will share from the trip, but hope you find these wing shots as mesmerizing as I do. I suspect that angels’ wings look a lot like these swan wings. I caught an image of incoming Trumpeter Swans that was my favorite lucky shot of the day and have included that at the end of today’s post. Let me know your thoughts.


Wings and Water


Brown and White Wings


Shadowed and Not


Wings and Water II


Wings at Work

The Tree

This tree is located a few steps from our new home. I have included a couple of shots that give geographical hints on the location of this Jackson area tree. I will let the captioned pictures tell the story of this Fall explosion of color except for these Joyce Kilmer words:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

With Fire Hydrant (in case the tree bursts into flames)


In Tight


Blue Skies and Uplifted Arms


Peekaboo Photo Bomb by Bare Tree


With a Hint of a Tower

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