Geese and Crane

Although some people might not care for geese I actually like them.  This is a picture taken against the west bank of the pond just north of the masonic temple.  The bank is steep and there’s plenty of shade from low-hanging branches.  Here the geese are wondering whether they ought to be concerned about a bright red kayak drifting towards them.  Notice they are actual standing in the water there. 

Geese hanging out in the shade on Red Mill Pond
Geese hanging out in the shade on Red Mill Pond

I paddled up to the north end of the pond where the water fowl really love to hang out.  I could see a half-dozen or so cranes wading about by the reeds.  It is extremely shallow here and my kayak got stuck in the silt several times.  The cranes are quite skittish but not nearly as touchy as the herons.  I took some pictures of the herons but, they didn’t come out.

A crane standing on a sand bar on the north end of Red Mill Pond
A crane standing on a sand bar on the north end of Red Mill Pond

I am fairly pleased with my pictures however, if you look at them, you’ll notice an eerie hue about the birds – especially around the color white.  I believe this has to do with “chromatic aberration” from my camera lens.  Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about that for right now.  Maybe I can try and save up for a better lens one day?

Juvenile Bald Eagle Sighted

While canoeing on the pond, we paddled by one of the bald eagles’ favorite hangouts – a dead tree on the waters edge.  We have a couple of dead trees on our property and have not cut them down for this very reason – the bald eagles love to hunt from these high perches.  Today, instead of an adult bald eagle though, we spotted this youngster:

Bald Eagle - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Bald Eagle – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

Initially, I was a little confused.  Was this really a bald eagle?  Aren’t they supposed to have a white head, white tail and yellow beak?  What kind of bird is this?  An article on Wikipedia says:

The plumage of the immature (bald eagle) is a dark brown overlaid with messy white streaking until the fifth (rarely fourth, very rarely third) year, when it reaches sexual maturity…  Another distinguishing feature of the immature bald eagle over the mature bird is its black, yellow-tipped beak; the mature eagle has a fully yellow beak.

So what we have here is an immature bald eagle.  I have no idea how old it is but, it must be less than five years old.  And apparently, while adult eagles are proficient hunters of live prey, immature eagles are more likely to obtain their food from scavenging.

Here is a picture of the same eagle, taken just before it landed on the woodpile (above).  Notice the impressive wingspan and its yellow talons:

Immature Bald Eagle - Impressive Wingspan - Red Mill Pond - August 7, 2016
Immature Bald Eagle – Impressive Wingspan – Red Mill Pond – August 7, 2016

We were careful to keep our distance from the eagle.  As a general rule, I try to keep far enough away from the wildlife on the pond, so as to not create a stress or disturbance for them in any way.  I know that this is their environment and we are just guests.

We paddled away, as quietly and carefully as possible.  The eagle turned away from us, spreading its wings out slightly to bask in the warm sunlight.

Rain Finally Comes!

The ground has been parched for many weeks.  And the pond has stilled with little fresh water coming from upriver.  Local farmers are getting nervous, saying they’re absolutely desperate for rain.  The Tecumseh Herald ran this article on July 23rd:  Drought worsens, Lenawee County at ‘severe drought’ level.

Well, this evening it rained steadily for over two hours.  Who would have thought you could get so excited to see it rain? But I ran outside and jumped up and down and danced around like a lunatic.  I am so happy!

Rain glorious rain - Red Mill Pond - July 30, 2016
Rain glorious rain – Red Mill Pond – July 30, 2016

I sprinted down to the pond to see what’s going on.  It’s amazing what a difference a little rain can make!  I see the river is flowing again.  There’s mist hanging in the air over the pond.  Rain drops explode like little meteors on its surface.  And, the water is clear again, well there’s some turbidity but, storms will do that.  The important thing is, the algae bloom has been washed away downstream (sorry Lake Erie) and the pond is alive.

And as if on command, I see a carp swimming cheerfully by, along the water’s edge.  He spots me and darts away with a flick of his tail, kicking up a cloud of sediment behind him.  Wonderful!

Hopefully, we can get some more of this lovely wet soggy rain over the next few days.

Algae Bloom Suffocates

Ugh!  Could it get any worse?  An algea bloom has been suffocating the pond for over two weeks.

Algae bloom suffocates Red Mill Pond - July 28, 2016
A dark sticky mass of ooey, gooey muck encases much of the pond – July 28, 2016

Our community, along with the rest of the Midwest, is experiencing drought again.  There has not been enough rain in recent months to effect a good flow of the River Raisin through the pond.  And this is the result.

Contaminants from unregulated farm runoff and  the application of fertilizers to residential lawns are taking a toll on the river.  The water is stagnant.  And with no movement, everything seems to have come to a halt.  Now it’s not unusual to have an algae bloom or two in the Springtime – after the farmers finish planting and fertilizing and the chem lawn trucks have rolled through the neighborhood.  But usually by this time of the year, everything has washed downstream.  So it is unusual to see the pond in this state of affair so far along in the season.

I watch as a carp breaks through the morass with an overly slow, lethargic motion.  How different it looks now to earlier in the season when they were spawning!  They were swimming around with unbounded enthusiasm – so lively.  The water was clear and you could see hundreds of them racing around the edge of the pond.  Now this?  “Bloop!” the thick soupy water gives way as the fish breaks the surface – green slime adheres to his back as he pushes through the filth.  I wonder how can the poor creature even breathe in this muck?


Web Camera Online

Web Camera Online - Red Mill Pond - January 19, 2016
Web Camera Online – Red Mill Pond – January 19, 2016

Well, it’s been a long time coming.  It took imagination and hours of hard work to make the web camera page a reality.  Most webcams offer a poor quality, grainy type-of picture.  They provide a live video stream with a high frame rate but poor picture detail.  That might be okay for security or other applications but I have always dreamed of something better, something more refined.  Red Mill Pond is such a beautiful and unique environment.  Doesn’t it deserve something better?

I finally came up with a solution.  It involves connecting a Nikon DSLR camera to a computer, which is then hooked-up to the Internet.  The computer uses special software to take a high definition picture every fifteen minutes.  I then use other software programs to optimize the image quality and upload the picture to the Red Mill Pond website.

Of course nothing can take the place of the human eye.  And what this whole process has really taught me is just how amazing our eyes really are, and how much we take their capability for granted.  Also, I cannot duplicate the artistry and skill of a professional landscape photographer in an automated process.  So, this effort represents the best I can do with the equipment and techniques I have available at this point in time.


External Links:
CandyLabs VideoVelocity – Time-Lapse Capture Studio
ImageMagick – Create, edit, compose, or convert bitmap images
WinSCP – Award Winning SFTP Client