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Welcome to the Pine River Review. Our sight is dedicated to our little homestead located along the Pine River tucked inside the Chippewa Nature Center's 1400 Acres of wild in Michigan's lower penninsula. We love to share our pictures, video, comment, and our own homespun music. Step inside our world as we celebrate this beautiful nook!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

World Bird Wednesday XXXIIX

Barbarians at Their Gates                         

   The doldrums of summer have covered Michigan like thick hot syrup on a stack of dry flour pancakes. It is hard to move let alone think; even the grass is tired of growing. Yesterday I tried to fight the malaise, threw my camera and water bottles into the car and sped off for the wetlands determined to find something to photograph.
    My journey took me first to Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. All the many rivers in the Saginaw watershed mingle here before washing out into Lake Huron by way of the Saginaw river.  This is sanctuary for roughly 280 bird species throughout the year. In the autumn, tens of thousands of geese and ducks flock to Shiawassee during migration. "Globally Significant," is how the official pamphlet touts it. The views are vast here and my 400mm lens isn't quite up to the challenge of pulling in the marquee Sandhill cranes and Trumpeter swans lounging in the lazy distance. This is a refuge, and while I normally would have stalked closer, that kind of nonsense is strictly verboten!
   On the authorised trail, where I tramped into the secluded photographic blind, the canny fowl skittered away long before I was properly stowed away in that tiny wooden shack; huddled there to wait silently with the spiders and the flies for those prime bird photo opportunities that would never come.  Showing their exquisite good taste, the insects, themselves far from miserable, threw a grand party delighting in their yummy human cuisine.
    The heat and the claustrophobia grew. A hallucination swept over me; I was a chain gang prisoner steaming in a solitary sweat box fretting out my "failure to communicate." Through the tiny slats cut into the wooden cell I could see the Boss man rocking in the shade of his porch, sipping a cool lemonade with ol' Blue the trusty blood hound lounging contentedly at his feet, lately worn out from running me down.
   I got the hell out of there.

  As I think about it now, this strange illusion probably had its sprouting in the latest real life run in I had with the good folks at Dow Chemical security. To capsulise a little history: There is a hill in a public park which overlooks the chemical plants retention ponds, ponds that are crowded with bird life, ponds that are owned by Dow Chem. When Dow security is feeling frisky they will send their uniformed patrolmen out into Overlook park to question my motives in having a Dslr with a 400mm lens in my hot little hands. They only do this if I'm alone on the hill taking bird pictures. In a now famous slow chase, Dow's security cars once followed me home from the ponds. I drove at a deliberately slow 20mph crawl the whole way just to spite them, they never budged from my bumper. Yes, there is history here.
  I was on my way up there again two evenings ago testing out a camera pack that velcros onto my 10 speed's rear bike rack. Tooling down our scenic woodland bike trail in route, I pulled up hither and yon to whip out the camera and take a few pictures. The new system was working fine, I could dismount, yank out the camera, push over the bike, and be shooting inside 15 seconds. It was a pretty evening to be at play, the golden hour's sunlight would be shinning upon the birds that call Dow Chemical home and I was on my way to my Overlook Park battlegrounds where I hoped to take some butt kickin' pelican photos. Perfect.
 I'm sure my buddies at Dow Chem Security are still talking about how they scrambled to converge on the intruder at the fence line. I was quickly pegged sneaking up on my ten speed to snap off long distance reconnaissance photos, no doubt. I imagine them monitoring the hill from their guard shack nerve center, dispatching their own muscle before calling the County Sheriffs when potential corporate spies arrive.
   And so it goes again, two county sheriffs, two burly security dudes and I debating abstract legal theory, case in point: Who owns the air above Dow chemical and the photographic rights to the birds there in? These debates used to be amusing, they've become tedious. Why does Dow insists on having this inane confrontation over and over again when they admit I am doing nothing illegal and must put up with my tongue lashings before watching me peddle off Scott free to click away another day? The police assure me their heavy handed tactics will persist in spite of my impertinent objections.
   Lest you think me immune to this treatment, the real pressure comes not from Dow but from those dear to me; poor Suzanne who worries I'm calling down corporate hellfire and even the boys at the firehouse, where we discuss the topic ad nauseum, are ticked off. They have great fun badgering me on in my singular pursuit of happiness. I am impressed how brave they are for me.
   Improbable conspiracy theories abound, but wait, is that a Dow car slowing down in front of the house?

  You know, I thank heaven all summer long for Blue herons. They are Michigan's most dependable bird. In the dog days, when nothing else is flying they'll give you at least a fighting chance for a cool jpeg. The lead picture in this posting is one taken by my son Joshua I'm proud to say, the 'kid' who fights fires with his old man in Detroit. Try being the guy inside a burning building who also has to worry about his aging, one year from retirement Dad falling out while hauling hose in the middle of the night. My daughter Shannon, who earns her way in the field of graphic design, has gently guided me toward the life of a writer and photographer, she sees something there for me, something safer and less dependant on adrenalin. The kids don't question why their goofy Dad takes bird pictures in remote swamps on his days off, they try to understand it and share in it. Their boundless young spirits and creativity energy is impossible for me not to emulate, even if it makes a giant, godlike corporate entity like Dow uncomfortable in the process. In my own small world an issue of respect is at stake. 
   In reality, I don't want anyone mad at me, especially Blue herons. They're all I have left! 

Now it's time for World Bird Wednesday!
This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.


#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry. It contains a link for your readers to share in WBW. Or you can copy this link on to your blog page to share W.B.W.
#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with Linky.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to incourage your compadres!
Come on it's your turn!


  1. Amazing photos! Especially that first one- it doesn't look real. Maybe it's a Dow spy?

  2. Absolutely gorgeous captures! Also love the awesome new header.

  3. As always, magnificent captures. I'm humbled.

  4. An excellent post Springman.
    Your son certainly has a talent too; the first picture is excellent, as are the rest.

    Those Dow Chemical people sound really paranoid.

  5. Gorgeous shots! I can't believe Dow hassles you like that!

  6. As always the photos are the epitome of excellence, including your sons! And, the writing follows suit and keeps your reader captivated wanting more.
    Always a pleasurable visit!
    Carletta's Captures

  7. Springman, Great shots of the GBH! I'm in the doldrums too, bird wise! Thank goodness for the Sparrows and Finches in the back yard!
    When you write that book, I'll be in line for a copy!
    A big BOO HISS, to Dow Chemical. Leave the man alone!

  8. A wonderful post to read...
    I have recently had a similar "chemical works" experience with security and jobsworths which I now have the inspiration to share (about a product discovered in my town that changed the World).
    Joshua grabbed a lovely image and yours are stunning as usual.

  9. Great post filled with continuing interest. Photos are outstanding as always! Love the blue heron!

  10. Fantastic story, Springman, and fantastic photos! Strange perspective in the first one. Were you squatting in front of the heron and looking up? I think your wife is right: you could make a life, and perhaps a living, out of writing and photography.

  11. I think you should wear a "Not A Corporate Spy" tshirt.
    Or, we could all gather on the hill together for a photography day.

    All wonderful shots..the first is my favorite

  12. The pictures are miracles. I loved learning about your family backing you (and inheriting your talent). The Dow stuff gave me a bit of a chill, 'tho the car 'chase' bit was funny (I'm a newer reader and hadn't seen about all that before.) Out here in the Northwest woods, we are more likely to trip over an illegal pot patch than a legal chemical plant. (No further comment ;>) )

  13. Marvellous shots and such interesting words! As usually your post is a great fun!

  14. Great photos of the Herons, Springman. The story of your run-ins with the chemical plant people is horrible - especially that they are able to bring in the local law enforcement. If the birds are there why can't you look at them and photograph them!

  15. that blue heron shot is amazing. Gorgeous. :)

  16. you always make me laugh. yes, you have a gift for writing and of course GORGEOUS photos!!!

  17. Love your header. Wonderful post and a stunning set of images. Beautiful photo work.
    (I am happy to take part again)

  18. What fools these chemical company twerps are. No wonder your feathers were ruffled.
    I must agree with your offspring, you do have the gift of the gab, so writing combined with bird photography is a good option got your old age . . .

    I certainly enjoy the way you spin a yarn and generally make a space in my day or night, when I can indulge myself and concentrate on chuckling at the string of pearls you offer with your weekly posts.

  19. Great post Springman. I'd have fun tormenting Dow also. 20mph! What a hoot! Thanks for the encouragement and good words to my blog. I'll not feel uncomfortable with far-away shots now. My 400mm is in the shop and will get it back soon so I'll at least be able to get a few silly millimeters closer from now on.

  20. Once again Work has Kept me too late to get a WBW post up...Well i could get up the post but I cant make the visits and thats the whole purpose and the fun part...I will visit a few before I have to rest up and get ready to do it all again tomorrow--recall that OLD TV ad, "time to make the donuts"?
    WELL I say to heck with DOW and their chemicals..they are probably afraid you are an EPA spy--or you are going to BLOW the whistle in the local rag or worse--ON FOX NEWS omg just imagine that one...I will view it from the less biased BBC America--
    NOW BIRDS..thats a Whopper fish there and an amazing photo!! And your Grasshopper is doing VERY well learning the ins and outs of Bird Photography!! Keep Dow on their Toes!

  21. Your heron shots are amazing! well worth daring to go there . . .

  22. What a great post - words, pictures, the lot. Cant say that I blame you for banging on the door of Dow - big companies think they are a law unto themselves - but thats not the case. Well done!

    Cheers STewart M

  23. Wonderful captures as allways, absolutely stunning! I really would like to see those fantastic birds in real one time :)

    Have a nice week!

  24. Like father, like son... Had already planned to comment on the first image (very nice) and then got to the part in your narrative where you credit your son... My favorite of all the images is the next to the last one... a great close-up on both the bird and the poor fish!!! As always, thoroughly enjoyed the story you told to go with the pictures... poor guards must be bored and you give them some excitement!

  25. Greetings and welcome to WBWxxxiix!
    I am so blown away by your thoughtful comments, it's obvious you actually read these rants! You know I love reading yours. It makes me wonder what we did for fun before the Internet. To be able to take pictures and publish them, share them, is quite an experience by itself. To have your feedback makes this a heartfelt exercise. Why do people even bother writing books? Where is the community in that? The give and take?
    Huge thanks to all WBW folk, the publishers of the most beautiful pages in blogdom and the great commentators that energise this whole affair. This is fun! And now, back to the blogs!

  26. That's quite a story. Try to sty out of jail Love the heron shots! Keep on writing!

  27. Gorgeous photos as usual, love the one your son took too :). I am glad your kids and colleagues are with you on the Dow issue.
    The world is going insane on the terrorist threat thing and once the Sheriffs and security Dudes have checked you out, it should be enough. Why go to war with you?
    But then again, some countries arrest birds as spies,... so why am I surprised?

  28. These photos are jaw-dropping spectacular - including your son's! I love seeing the GBH in action, catching dinner. Your narrative is interesting and amusing, as always! I wonder what Dow is trying to hide?

  29. Another fabulous post Dave! I can identify with the blind experience but I'm usually there in the winter when it's much cooler. You brought up that image of the guard from Cool Hand Luke with your "failure to communicate" line ;-) Thanks for that!

    The Heron photos, priceless!

  30. Excellent photos Springman. Those security guards just sound like they have got nothing better to do and have decided that you are their distraction from boredom.

  31. Beautiful images of the Great Blue Heron!
    Good would think Dow Chem would have the common sense to let you be just for good PR. This story would be a good one for the media.

  32. Fantastische Bilder.
    Liebe Grüsse aus der Schweiz (Switzerland)

  33. Fabulous last shot of the blue heron! I have a stupid question. On the leading edge of the wings in that photo, it looks like the feathers are missing (pinkish brown). Am I seeing things? Do they molt in the heat and lose feathers?
    I am linking up again. Thanks!

  34. Great photos we had to get written permission from the council for the local sewerage works to count birds on their ponds.

  35. The series of photos is simply amazing!!! Maybe the reason the Dow security guards check you out is that they are bored stiff in their little guard shack, and with each other. They just want to get out in the fresh air and talk to another human being... So you are doing them a favour...