The Appleyards and Rouens

April 23rd, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The Silver Appleyard QuartetSince their abandonment at the millpond on September 18, 2013, I’ve referred to the four Silver Appleyards and their two Rouen buddies as “The Six.” It’s time to give them each a name so I can easily talk about them in the future instead of lumping them together.

I’m naming them after varieties of apples since four of them are APPLEyards. Using associations like this helps me remember them when I’m at the pond.

Newton is a beautiful Silver Appleyard drake

Jona is the lightest colored Silver Appleyard#1 = Jona  (Jonagold, the lightest colored hen, right.)
#2 = Lady Alice (The most patterned back.)
#3 = Jazz (Similar to Jona, slightly darker chest)
#4= Newton Pippin (The highly patterned drake, above.)

Granny is a Rouen hen at the north end of the millpondThe two Rouens that arrived with the quartet are also being named with an apple reference. The hen is Granny (left); the drake is Smith (below right). The Rouens are typical of their species, very placid birds except for the drake’s rather indiscriminate and insistent rendezvous with hens he can catch on a dead run since he’s too big to fly. He’ll regain his common sense once the mating period ends in July.

Smith is a large Rouen drake at the north end of the millpondIf I had to select one word to describe the Silver Appleyards, it would be “chipper.” They always seem happy and energetic. They’re friendly, too.

Structurally, the Appleyards have longer legs than the Mallards, are of medium build, and have boxy bodies. Their markings are so beautiful, I’m surprised their previous owner didn’t keep them around just to admire them on a daily basis.

"The Six" lounge near the north end of the Brighton millpond

2014 Fringo has begun!

April 22nd, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Frog photographed 4/21/14Let the competition begin! I photographed this frog near the millpond last evening. I’ll continue photographing frog I find near the pond until autumn chases them into hibernation.

If you see a frog near the millpond, photograph it and see if your frog matches any of the ones I’ve already photographed. If there’s a match, you win!

Here’s the 2014 Fringo Page.

Here are tthe frogs I found in 2013. Hope you win Fringo this year!

Bursting buds

April 22nd, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Top view: Box Elder bud

Box Elder buds on a branchEven though I’ve seen decades of it happening, I’m still amazed by the awakening of plants in spring. Buds swell and then burst full of everything the plant needs to collect light from the sun, create flowers to facilitate pollination, and produce seeds to begin a new generation.

On the second warm day in the 70s, this Box Elder tree’s buds opened to reveal their intricate contents of leaves, buds and seeds. Side view: Box Elder budA few more warm days will transform these tiny bundles the size of a quarter into full-sized bouquets that will hide the latticework of branches that have been bare for six months.

Exactly four years ago, the buds were a little farther along than they are today, but the cycle of new life still holds the same fascination for me as Nature unfurls her “ordinary miracles.”

Yeah, it’s the Easter Bunny

April 22nd, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The millpond bunny was really tired on Easter

When I had my conversation with the millpond rabbit last night, I wasn’t convinced she was the official Easter Bunny. Now I’m convinced. I caught up to her again on Easter evening and look at the poor thing. She’s tuckered out from shredding all of that colored cellophane, dying the eggs, and then delivering those baskets all night long. Guess the magic wore off, too. She didn’t say a thing to me.

Painted Turtle Revival Meeting

April 21st, 2014     1 comment     permalink

A painted turtle dives into the dark water near the Stillwater Grill

After 5-6 months of rest burrowed into the pond’s bottom, the painted turtles have revived. In the bay south of Stillwater Grill, at least 50 of the reptiles basked in the warm sun on Easter Sunday. The bay is swallow with a dark, muddy bottom. It’s warmer than the rest of the pond. Weeds, logs and hummocks give them plenty of places to catch a few rays.

A large painted turtle perches on a moss covered mount Turtles share the swallow water with last year's cattail stalks and weeds

“Seems there’s a turtle on everything above the water line,” a park visitor commented. Twelve were on one log when we arrived (below). Eight retreated into the water before I could photograph them. From now until early October, the painteds will gladly accept donations of bread tossed to them from the boardwalk between Stillwater and the cemetery. Evenings are a good time to see them. With luck, you’ll also see much larger snapping and red-eared slider turtles and an occasional muskrat.

A dozen turtles shared his log until they saw us and many fled

Hens being battered by drakes

April 21st, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Harlo is a platinum blonde domestic duckHarlo is at least a second-year hen. She hatched three ducklings last summer, but all of them disappeared within a couple of days. First time mothers sometimes lack the skills needed to protect them from danger espcially if they are domestics. Harlo is probably a mix of Saxony and Pekin stock. Currently, she’s receiving attention from many of the wild Mallards near the north end of the pond.

Harlo was attacked by three wild Mallard drakes

The large Rouen mated with her as the other two watchedApril 17: A Rouen drake and two Mallards attacked her on this day. Park visitors are shocked by how aggressive Mallard drakes are during the mating season. In our eyes, it seems counterproductive and cruel to viciously attack hens. Mallards are the most successful breed of ducks so it’s a successful strategy for their species. There are many theories why.

Unprotected by a bonded partner, Harlo is more vulnerable, but protection is no guarantee either. Bonded males often become spectators rather than bodyguards. Sometimes the activity also stimulates them to join in.

Harlo remained passive until she could bolt from her attackers

Mallard drakes arrive to participateOn Easter Sunday, 13 Mallard drakes attacked a Mallard hen in the water as several park visitors watched. So mobbed by frantic males, she couldn’t be seen. They fought to gain dominance or chase rivals away while they attempted to mate. As about 10 minutes passed, visitors became concerned with the hen’s farewell. They sometimes drown, but she finally freed herself.

A total of 13 drakes  participated in  this event

Skeptical: Easter Bunny lives at the millpond

April 20th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

A millpond cottontail says he's the Easter Bunny

The hand-raised cottontail dumped at the Brighton millpond last year following Easter is looking fit as she forages in the northern areas of the park. I happened to catch up with her while she was chatting with another rabbit, probably a male she’s dating now that it’s spring. She hollered,

EB: “Move along, Buster. There’s nothing to see here.”
Me: “You can  talk?”
EB: “Only at Easter when magic kicks in.”
Me: “Magic?”
EB: “Yeah. I can’t explain now. I’ve got to pick up my suit at the cleaners, fill more baskets, and shred a whole lotta cellophane.”
Me: “You’re the Easter Bunny? The official Easter Bunny?” As I was looking at the buttons on my camera to get another shot, I felt her rummaging through my pockets.

Me: “What are you looking for?”
EB: “A red cabbage. Do you have one? They make a great sky blue dye for eggs.”

She ran off looking frazzled after I told her I didn’t have a red cabbage on me. I didn’t have time to ask her questions I had. For one, I thought the Easter Bunny was a buck instead of a doe.

Scorn in the cob

April 20th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The cob convinces another goose to leave

It’s a full time job keeping geese away from the Mrs. The male mute swan (called a cob) is working at least a double shift giving geese the bum’s rush. It’s a well practiced routine for the players. The swan paddles toward a goose and, when he gets close enough, the goose takes a short flight to get out of range of the galoot. It’s exciting to watch the confrontations because the swan has such power in each sweep of his huge feet that he creates a wake (below right).

The goose gets the hint The cob creates a wave when he's in full fury

One of the invaders to the swan’s territory took a short hop over the boardwalk to vamoose. He flew within six feet of me and the original shot (left) was overexposed so I doctored it (right). It no longer fits with this story, but I liked how it turned out so it’s posted here anyway. It looks like a winter scene.

Original image of a goose scramming Altered image of a goose scramming

Following one of many evictions, the cob did a victory dance to celebrate (below). These scrimmages will continue until either the swan or goose family hatches their brood and leaves the bay south of Stillwater Grill. Come see the action.

A victory dance when the goose is gone

Toes: Who needs them?

April 19th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

A mallard drake with a foot injured by a turtle

I became aware of this unnamed duck late last fall. I’m sure his loss of toes is from a turtle bite. The wounds were entirely healed by the time I met him. He’s learned to carry on his life very well. Other than a slight limp, he moves quickly and the condition of his feathers and round body indicates he’s healthy. I suspect he’ll thrive as well as Abe has done since his injury in September, 2012.

The left foot is missing webbing between two toes and the inner toe is obviously brokenEach year,  at least a half dozen millpond ducks survive encounters with large snapping turtles that are the main predators of ducklings and their parents for the spring-early fall seasons. Turtles bite their feet from below and pull them down to drown and eat them. Ducks that survive often have horrific wounds and eventually lose toes or an entire foot. Yet their wounds usually heal without medical intervention unless infection overcomes them.

I believe we’ve lost Annabelle and Willaby , but both ducks lived good lives for quite some time after their injuries even though both had to paddle with only one foot.

There are many other unnamed ducks, that have significant foot injuries but they carry on their lives pretty well. The one pictured here (left and below) has lost all of its webbing between two left toes and two toes appear to be broken on the same foot. The injuries were sustained last summer yet he manages, is of normal weight, and takes good care of his feathers. Those are good signs he’s healthy and forages well.

This bird takes good care of himself

Bonded life agrees with Bacall

April 19th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Dumpling watches every move his love makes

Quiet and poised, Bacall is a happy, satisfied mate with DumplingFrom her abandonment with Bogie by previous owners last May, Bacall has rattled on and on. As I’ve mentioned before, her constant yammering may have caused the two to be dumped at the pond due to neighborhood complaints. Now that she and Dumpling are honeymooning in the central area of the millpond, she’s dead quiet.

Dumpling and Bacall viewed the chow I gave them as if it was a precious thingOf course all of her needs are being met by the charming and solicitous drake who has courted her since last summer. His chances improved once Bogie became dinner for a local predator. Now she leads, he follows; ever the gentleman. If he wore a coat, he’d gallantly fling it over puddles in her path. They float side by side along the shoreline finding things to eat as they trade intimate glances. She might already being laying eggs in some hidden nest. Bet I find it once she starts sitting on them. The cruise the shoreline in well bonded blissDumpling will stay nearby for a few days at least. Then I suspect another hen will catch his eye and reward his courtly manners.

Drakes aren’t known to remain faithful for the 28 days it takes to hatch eggs. They rarely help mom raise her brood. In fact, he or another drake will try to persuade her to leave the little darlings to fend for themselves so she can find bliss bringing his prodigies into the world. Yeah. Drakes are pigs.

Spring: RWBs better indicator than robins

April 19th, 2014     2 comments     permalink

Robins get the media attention when spring arrives, but when the RWBs come back to Michigan shorelines, that’s a true sign spring is approaching. Some flocks of robins stick around all winter here subsisting on berries and seeds while virtually all RWBs in the northern tier of states migrate southward before the snow flies. The millpond RWBs arrived about three weeks ago just as the edges of the ponds began to melt in the marsh areas.

A male red-winged blackbird perches close enough for me to photograph him as he challenges a rival in his territory

RWB is birder lingo for Red-Winged Blackbird which is Anglo lingo for memeskoniinisi in Odawa, an Anishinaabe language of the Ojibwa in southern Ontario and Michigan.

While RWBs are viewed as pests in farm country, they bring action to the millpond marches as they guard their territories from rival males and announce predator arrivals. Those red epaulets and yellow wing bands look more vibrant on their sleek, black bodies. Especially in the golden light near sunset as shown here up close as well as zoomed back to show his shoreline perch.

The same image zoomed out to show it's shoreline perch

Double dating ducks

April 18th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Two Mallard pairs double date on the Brighton millpond

Almost all of the millpond ducks have paired up and scattered from one end of the pond to the other. These two bonded pairs relax during an evening float. If the drakes weren’t familiar with each other, they would surely not allow this familiarity with their chosen mates. Maybe floating with friends gives both drakes more protection from rogue males seeking a Thursday evening romp with an unprotected hen. Disputes happen in all directions now, the peak of the spring mating season. These two couples ignore them and enjoy the sun as it heads toward the horizon.

You can download a 1920×1200 pixel desktop pattern of this image zoomed back a bit to highlight the patterns and colors in the rippled water. It might take a while. It’s 811k.

Winterkill

April 18th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The largest Largemouth bass I've seen at the Brighton millpond

I probably dwell on death at the millpond more than some readers find comfortable. No worries. I’m not psychotic. I don’t take pleasure finding carcasses. I do, however, feel it’s important to face the end of lives rather than avoid them. Sometimes it’s to honor the deceased or to acknowledge the tough lives wild creatures lead in an environment most people assume is idyllic. Now that I’m older, I also have to admit I find death profound and beautiful. I’m no longer frightened by it. It’s the final destination of life when peace without pain enfolds all of us. Essentially, it’s a tribute.

No one can walk the millpond trail now without seeing dead fish. The long winter has taken its toll. It stares at you with opaque porcelain eyes like those of the largest largemouth bass I have ever seen in the millpond (above). Panfish bleach in the early spring sun as they thaw. Turtles haven’t revived from winter hibernation but there will be plenty for them to eat this year. With full bellies and slow digestion, perhaps they’ll consume fewer ducks.

Detail of Winterkill with colors shiftedIn the cold water, leaves from oaks and maples wait to decay. In areas near shore, they rest in thick layers of drab colors that only hint at their original autumn hues. The stark assemblage of sharp shapes and bottomless shadows remind us of what we’ve endured especially when it is garnished with a dead bluegill (below).

I prepared a second image from the same frame sans fish and rotated (right). Both images are through a reflected gauze of blue from the clear spring sky.

Winterkill #1

Nature collides with commerce

April 18th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The duck died on Grand River Avenue near the north end of the millpond

The nameless duck was distinctively markedA domestic/mallard hybrid died on Grand River Avenue this week. How it happened is unknown, but I imagine it fits the typical spring pattern. This is the mating season and drakes become hell bent on transmitting their genes.

Besides their relentless pursuit of hens, males chase their rivals. The short sprints sometimes end in collisions with vehicles along Grand River and Main Street.

This duck is most likely the one killed on Grand River AvenueThe drake killed is a large hybrid of domestic (Buff Orpington?) and mallard stock. He was the only duck with this unusual white neck markings. For the past two years, he’s been a “rogue male,” a drake who prefers cruising the pond with his buddies seeking encounters with numerous hens rather than settling down with just one boring hen who cramps his free wheeling style.

Urban ponds like ours set the stage for death. Not only are there an abundance of ducks, the pond is surrounded by streets filled with moving vehicles to swat them out of the air. Mallards fly at 40-55 mph, even faster when chased, but they can’t dodge cars and trucks when their focus is on evading drakes or reaching an attractive hen before their competitors.

Bricks and water

April 17th, 2014     6 comments     permalink

Reflections of the Old Village Town Hall in Brighton in the water at the dam

Here’s another image taken at the Brighton millpond dam. The bright afternoon sun illuminates the bricks on the Old Village Townhall and contrasts with the darkening sky in the flame-like reflections just before the water leaves the pond.

Surf and Turf Wars

April 16th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The swan and goose nests re separated by an island of cattails

Since King Arthur’s death this winter, three swans have cased the Brighton millpond to set up shop. This past week, a bonded pair found the bay south of Stillwater Grill a suitable neighorhood to raise a family. There’s only one problem: They don’t like their neighbors, a pair of Canada geese moved in ahead of them for their second year at this site. Swans find ducks amusing, but geese trigger some long-standing Hatfield/McCoy feud embedded in their genes. Canada geese know a crazed neighbor when they see one and do their best to not provoke them. In past years, I’ve seen parents sneak goslings through shoreline underbrush to avoid a cob (male swan) guarding his territory.

The swan and goose nests are separated by a cattail island as shown above. When the gander swims in the bay, the cob convinces him to return home on the other side of the island.

It's a script they follow. The gander comes out, the cob chases him back The gander leads the swan away from his nest

The cob occasionally advances to the front door of the goose abode nest and fluffs up in rage as they stand their ground (below). On one occasion, the cob harassed the goose and her mate snuck in the back entrance to the nest and stood next to her in solidarity (below). Once the kids hatch, the geese will find a safe place to roost with their youngsters. The swan family will probably return to their nest for a while until the water and night air warms.

The cob isn't puffed up to look pretty. He's furious. The Canada geese stand firm at their nest

One of the swans has a healed wound on its lower neck. Feathers are missing on the front and a protrusion is evident on its left side (below left). It might be from a gun shot or arrow, but it could also be from a tree branch it hit when coming in for a landing. The state is currently culling our state’s mute swan population from about 15,000 down to 2,300 by 2030 because they are extremely territorial and don’t allow native species to nest near them. Locals wouldn’t might if the swan evicts the goose family. Most residents feel the goose population is greater than it should be.

One of the swans has a healed wound on its long neck The wound might be from an arrow or gun shot On the other side of the cattails, the swans have established their own nest

The swans are still building their nest in the cattails (above right). Cygnets will hatch in early June unless the eggs are taken by predators or humans.

Stanley needs an image makeover

April 16th, 2014     3 comments     permalink

It’s humbling to blog. My errors are right here for the world to see.

Stanley is a female Rouen duck

From comparing millpond ducks to photos found online, I pegged the four large brown domestic ducks dumped on the pond last summer as Rouen Clairs, an offshoot from Rouens. They were abandoned in two pairs at different times: Bogie and Bacall; Stella and Stanley.

Rusty has convinced me I’m wrong. He’s bonded with Stanley and they are setting up housekeeping in the bay south of the Stillwater Grill. Since same sex waterfowl pairings aren’t common, I did some more duck identification research online. It turns out Stanley and Bogie weren’t Rouen Clair drakes or Rouen Clairs at all. They are Rouen hens. I should have known she was a hen. Look at how beautiful she is as she quacks sweet nothings with the infatuated Rusty (on left, above).

The Rouen has a chipped bill but is doing fine

Stella and Stanley Kowalski were named at Wanda’s suggestion because domestic ducks at the pond “have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” a line uttered by Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. But Stanley doesn’t look like a Blanche to me. Blanche was fragile and troubled. Stanley is a duck with heft and endurance as evident by her surviving with a chipped bill (above), the result of an unknown mishap after her pond debut. I’m open to a new name for Rusty’s temporary sweetheart.

Don’t buy ducklings and bunnies at Easter

April 15th, 2014     1 comment     permalink

Visit LivingstonDaily.com to read more

Meet George and Beatrice

April 13th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

George S. Patton, the upright drake at the Brighton millpondGeorge is an unusual duck. None of the other millpond ducks have his upright posture. His ancestry is unknown but in addition to Mallard genes, he probably sports Buff Orpington and Indian Runner stock in his family tree. He’s big, solid, and always stands tall. For the past two years, he’s roosted directly in front of the site of the new Veterans Memorial at night. Maybe that’s why he stands at attention whenever he’s on land. I’ve named him George S. Patton though he doesn’t appear to have a fighting spirit or be an Alpha Duck.

Beatrice is a dark phase Mallard henGeorge’s wife, Beatrice, has a fitting name for our drake’s bonded partner this spring. She’s a normally sized, rather mousy brunette, a fine example of the dark phase of Mallard hens. It’s too early to know if the pair will produce offspring, but we might have more ducks at attention by fall.

Millpond: Micro-Cosmos

April 13th, 2014     1 comment     permalink

Rapids below the Brighton Millpond Dam #1 With a few tweaks, the rapids become the cosmos

Winter continues to leave the watershed via South Ore Creek. The Brighton millpond is just one of the pools it passes through on its way to Lake Erie and, eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. The higher than usual discharge is only noticeable at the dam where the additional water swirls and bubbles as it tumbles six feet before it enters the culvert.

After photographing the turbulence, I realized the patterns in the water resemble clouds of gases I’ve seen in photos of the heavens from the Hubble telescope. So I fiddled with the image on the left, above. I sandwiched it with a photo of stars from NASA and gave it a dash of heavenly colors and adjusted the froth to look more gaseous. Bingo! It’s ready for the sequel of Star Wars.

Rapids below the Brighton Millpond Dam #2 Rapids below the Brighton Millpond Dam #3
This playful exercise shows is how the principles of Nature are constant whether they are expressed in a small Michigan stream or the entire Cosmos.
Rapids below the Brighton Millpond Dam #4 Rapids below the Brighton Millpond Dam #5

Do these feathers make my butt look big?

April 12th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Jemima, Captain D. Hookt, and Jiminy stick together most of the time

Jemima, Captain D. Hookt, and Jiminy (respectively, above) are still fast friends and can almost always be seen together near Main Street. The Captain was dumped as a scrawny lad on September 8, 2013. The other two arrived as a pair on August 15 last year, much to the disgust of MooseTracks, the pond’s late feathered sheriff. The two drakes follow Jemima where she leads them, but Jiminy has a bit of trouble keeping up with her. During the winter months, he’s convinced many a park visitor that he’s in desperate need of being fed. Since most folks give him bread, he’s packed on a few pounds. It’s all settled in his hind quarters (right).

Jiminy has gained a lot of weight in his rear half this winterHis waddling makes his rear end sway back and forth in a wide arc that is rather humorous to see as he walks away from you. But it has a serious dimension, too. None of the domestic duck breeds are developed for longevity. The quicker they can grow and be slaughtered for market, the more profit there is for the farmer.

As a Pekin, Jiminy was bred to be butchered within 45-50 days at “market weight,” about 6-7 pounds. He’s almost a year old now and tips the scale at 9-10 pounds. He’ll gain more weight in what could be his 8-12 year life span. Old, heavy Pekins can develop mobility problems and reach a point where they can no longer stand. Hopefully, he won’t have that fate or become so ponderous he cannot escape the danger of predators or humans with evil intent.

The hooked foot on October 6, 2013Captain D. Hookt isn’t far behind in the big behind department. He’s almost as large as Jiminy. The only way to easily tell them apart is to look for Jiminy’s curlier feathers above his tail.

Now that the ducks amble on sidewalks instead of white snow, I’ve noticed some ducks’ webbing is lighter edged. It might be a winter adaptation so less blood is delivered there or could be mild frostbite. Severe frostbite would turn the edge black so I’m prone to believe it’s an species adaptation.

Captain D. Hookt's foot on March 28, 2014The photo taken October 6 (above, left) with the hook still embedded in his foot doesn’t show the lighter edge. The photo taken on March 28 clearly shows it (left).The other foot on March 24, 2014

His other foot (right) proves it’s not from his injury. Some other ducks have similar feet but many don’t. I’ll do some research on this.

A visit to a salad bar then a swim through satin

April 12th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Floating plants are already growing in the cold water

Just days after the last of the millpond ice melted, tiny green floating plants have begun to sprout much to the delight of the muskrats. Above, a  muskrat leaves a floating salad bar that’s gathered at the culvert where water enters the millpond.

With a few color shifts, the lower part of the muskrat image is a respectable textureMuskrats’ diet is mostly vegetation and the pickings are slim during the winter months so the fresh veggies are a welcome addition to their choices which have been limited to plant roots for months.

The lower part of the above image reflected the cement culvert and the dark blue sky distorted by the swirling of eddies from the water rushing into the pond from points north. A few color tweeks brought out the odd combination of blues with shades of olive greens (above left).

A muskrat swims toward its burrow directly under my feet on the millpond shoreLater, the afternoon weather conditions transformed the millpond water into a brighter range of blues. The sky and ripples give the impression the muskrat is swimming through satinDark clouds covered a portion of the sky and bright blues filled the rest. Ripples picked up reflections with the sheen of shimmering satin, a nice contrast for the fuzzy brown fur of swimming muskrats.

While they seem comfortable swimming during winter months, they must find more pleasure in the warmer waters now.

Parfait is now a major player

April 11th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Almost a year old, Parfait is ready to pass his genes onto the next gneration of mutant ducks

He's a nicely proportioned drake with distinctive markingsMarch 29-30: I took these shots of one of the millpond’s favorite young hunks, Parfait, while the ducks still had ice to skate on. The lad is now 11 months old, distinctively marked, and well muscled.

Ducks are ready to mate after they pass the six month marker and Parfait is very happy to oblige. He’s been courting a young starlet with the look of a commoner and they seem quite gigglily when they are together.

They appear to be shacking up near City Hall where a nest in the yews could surely be found if someone searched for it. I’ve seen the pair spending time there.

Parfait has been seen puppy-dogging a hen near Brighton's City HallParfait is an A-List duck because he’s easily spotted no matter where he roams. His patchwork of browns and whites can be identified from across the pond. He delights in being photographed as he and his main squeeze paddle near Main Street during prime park visiting hours.

Unlike his Earthbound father, MooseTracks, Parfait is a fine aviator. His mother, Babs. although part domstic, also flies. He might lose this ability if he bulks up as he ages or consumes too much bread offered by well meaning park visitors.

Details around the edges

April 11th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Compositionally, this is a bust yet it's still and arresting image

These shots are reflections in the millpond near the dam, a common subject on this blog that needs no further explanation.

The photography police will get me for these. See, there are extensive laws in photography. If we break them, the photography police raise their eyebrows and tut-tut us behind our backs. Some of the rules cover focus and grain. These two images pass muster on those, but they fail the composition guidelines. We’re supposed to think in thirds; the focus point in any image is a third from the top or bottom and a third from the left or right edges.

All of the action in the top image jogs around the edges and leaves that big chunk of empty blue where the focal point is supposed to be. I could get excommunicated for that. The bottom image is even more lawless. I think it’s a felony to split an image in half unless it is accompanied by proper written justification published in a peer reviewed professional journal. I don’t have time to write papers but I think the crowded details on the left balances the smooth postcard blue on the right.

Even though the image is split in half the tiny details rescue it

I hope I’m not sent to photographic jail for these sins. I hear it’s filled with top-of-the-line digital cameras with high speed lenses made by the finest manufacturers, all without batteries. That’s punishment far exceeding the crimes of the inmates.

Babs is lollygagging

April 10th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Babs wades on the flooded sidewalk at the Brighton millpond

If Babs, one of the millpond’s Swede Sisters,  is an indicator, the ducklings will be late this year. Two years ago, she hatched her first brood on April 29, last year it was May 18. She could still meet last year’s delivery date if she’s clutching eggs now (laying one a day until the whole clutch is formed), but she has nested near the fire station in past years while she’s still loitering near Main Street this year.

Babs has selected a dashing drke for her first clutch of the seasonShe’s picked a dashing drake with his slicked back iridescent green and blue feathers but they’ve been rather secretive about their relationship compared to her blatant flaunting of previous years. Maybe she’s gained some sense of propriety. In the past two years, she’s abandoned her first broods to fly off with some sweet quacking drake to nest again. Perhaps her extended courtship this year signals she seeks a more stable lifestyle and won’t tolerate frivolous flings with roving males who find her brown eyes and raven feathers so alluring. Parfait was the result of her romp with MooseTracks last year, not that she cared much for the chap or his siblings.

Swimming in color

April 10th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

A bonded pair of Canada geese float in the Brighton millpond

The closer you get to the surface of water, the more brilliant are the reflections upon it. Imagine what waterfowl see at their eye level as they leisurely paddle around ponds each day. Our retinas would be overwhelmed if our streets, paths, and parking lots were as reflective as water. Yet it would be rather refreshing to read an obituary someday that states, “He died peacefully surrounded by family and friends following an extensive battle with color.”

Honking to protect their territory in their portion of the Brighton millpond

Belly of the beast

April 10th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

Like a hand-knotted rug, the feathers on the chest of a goose protect it well from water and cold

Canada geese are as common as dandelions and get even less respect in our region. Open a window anywhere within our county in spring, and you’ll hear their honking. Visit any shoreline and you’ll be dodging their droppings. Still, they have merit as doting parents, beautiful beings, and (I hear) delicious main courses. Here, you see the chest of a member of the millpond’s flock. It’s intricately feathered to protect it from water and weather. Droplets of pond water bead and catch beams of sunlight as this bird hissed at me as I moved close to photograph it.

A close up at almost the full resolution possible from my camera

Painted in reflections, winter is swept away

April 10th, 2014     0 comments     permalink

The increased flow over the dam smooths the surface so reflections become elongated ribbons of captured light

Water leaves the millpond at a good clip as the deep earth thaws. It’s been gradual this year and flooding has been avoided. Thick sheets of smooth ripples tumble over the dam painted in elongated reflections. Hundreds of times I’ve photographed this scene from both sides of the dam, and the images are always unique. The light changes from day to day; season to season. From the east side, cool colors dominate when a clear blue sky is the backdrop. From the west, warm colors fill the frame thanks to the sunlit aging brick facade of the Old Town Hall.

Reflections of the sunlight facade of the Old Town Hall twine with the blue of the railings surrounding the dam