Nature Blog Network Wildlife Photography Blog Fatbirder's top 1000 birding websites

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 23, 2011

World Bird Wednesday XL

A Meditation

   As Diane Arbus, the great photographer of unusual people, once said,"I never get the picture I take, it's always better or worse."  Ain't that the truth!
   I had a great day watching young Bald eagles soaring in a very high and bright sky. I clicked picture after picture knowing full well I was getting loads of muddy dark shapes pasted against white backgrounds to stuff the virtual waste basket with. It was probably one of those days more suited to nature appreciation then photography. Still, you never know what might shake out. The big birds were scrapping high in the sky testing each others verve. Tracking them in the long lens was fun and got downright exciting when the juveniles swooped low. "If only the light was better!" How often have you thought that? One odd ball picture of the young eagles passing straight overhead turned out better than the others and serves as a remembrance of the day. You can bet the house note I will eventually get the job done taking their picture. I spotted nine juveniles in the air at one time! Where did they all come from? I'm thinking the adults had a stellar season child rearing and that is good news indeed.

   I hung around all day hoping that by evening the sun would be low enough to throw some defining luminescence on the young eagles. As if playing a practical joke, the buggers road the thermals right out of town or sat frozen in far away trees when the perfect light finally showed golden.
   A flight of geese left the pond and I snapped off a few shots from a little elevation more out of reflex than anything.  Amusing reflections maybe, but when you have eagles on your mind that hardly satisfies the great expectations. Then good fortune struck, the kind of unexpected visitation that whips a nature photographer into a frenzy. Buzzing around the hill and flashing white wing markings a small flock of Night hawks descended! From trying to solve the problem of catching the slow glide of a dark juvenile eagle to tracking the manic maneuverings of a tiny Night hawk is quite a shift. Funny, a little panic struck me. Don't blow this opportunity! I have been schooled at the hand of serendipity, these unplanned moments are a tease, seldom do they last long enough to record them successfully. In a New York minute the hawks moved along, the sun set, and I went home to unlock my camera's treasure chest to see if what rattled inside was silver or lead.       

Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor

While there has been plenty of fun a feild it's been in rough contrast to my work days in Detroit. The shifts are crushing; thirteen shootings in a single day, the kind with bullets not cameras; bleeding people knocking on the firehouse door looking for sanctuary from their assailants; nameless bodies in burnt out vacant houses; and the fires, my god, day after day it goes on. Our fire engine is so beat up the compartment doors are held shut with cloths line. The power steering leaks like a sieve, it feels as though my wrists will break clutching the wheel as we careening around the pot holes in the road, there are no mechanics to make repairs. Our new Fire Commissioner stopped by one morning for a fireside chat. He comes to us from sunny Los Angeles and does not know Midwest post industrial madness very well. When a 19 year veteran of the Detroit fire wars, a guy with a necklace of burn scars around his throat asks him about fire house closings and the sorry state of our infrastructure, the Comish pleads budget constraints and suggests that if this fire fighter isn't up to it, maybe he should find a different line of work. My jaw drops in disbelief at the obvious insult my brothers question received. Our new Southern Californian boss hasn't even experienced winter yet, sopping wet and flash frozen in brutal January cold snaps. We laugh at his naive bravado.


   For me bird photography is meditation. I sit silently and observe. Sometimes I bring a picture back but always I leave something more substantial behind. Michigan's wetlands are filled with my grief and weariness. Mine is a confusing world, and right at the moment the absurdity of it feels particularly perilous and threatening. Those little pockets of time when sanity reigns and the bones of my resolve can thicken again are all the more precious. It doesn't really matter if the pictures come out or not.
  It is WBWXXXX. Of all the wonderful things in my life this is one of the most unexpected and inspiring. The anticipation of the peaceful moments spent with you observing and discussing that which is beautiful and intriguing helps to frame my thoughts while fighting the good fight all week long. Thank you for sharing! I am grateful.

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!

Please consider submitting one of your older "hall of fame" posts to a fresh audiance.
Come on it's your turn!


  1. Absolutely amazing flying bird shots, Springman!
    Fires are a major problem here in summertime, year after year. It's outrageous!

  2. Really lovely and heartfelt post, Springman. It's a beautiful juxtaposition of the serene scene of a young eagle soaring in flight and the danger man poses to himself with that fire. I'm glad that nature can be so meditative for you -- I think everyone needs a place like that, and your remark about the local wetlands being filled with your grief and weariness was wonderful. I've never quite thought of it in that way before, and you've enunciated it beautifully.

    Thank you also for your work as a firefighter! The work of men and women like you, I feel is far too thankless -- and I hope you know how appreciated your bravery is! Stay safe!

  3. truly a touching post, visually, mentally, spiritually. the part about you leaving pieces of yourself out in the wetlands is so poignant. i cannot imagine the stresses of your days and the ugliness you encounter, only to slip away into the wild to get some peace and beauty. thanks for this, springman. :)

  4. A very touching post Springman.

    As for the Commissioners comments, I daren't say.

  5. Love those juvenile eagles! You can really see the white marks under their wings.

    When I first read the 3rd paragraph I thought you were writing about some other country. Then I realized you where talking about your town. I think the heat is getting to everyone. I'd be sneaking out to the woods as well.

  6. Welcome to WBWXXXX,
    I am sitting at the Fire house today and looking forward to a good WBW session. I appreciate your listening ear and supportive comments, I worry I've drifted a little far a field this week. If I have, your indulgence would be thankfully received.
    Enough of that, Let's go to the birds! Dave

  7. Springman, I share your feelings about the demise of the things we believe to be normal. After 30 years in law enforcement, I'm glad I'm retired!

    Your shots and prose are wonderful as usual! Love the inverts!

  8. Your wonderful photos and insightful words are remarkable as always. Your post made me smile, remember, enjoy, and cry. Detroit is very lucky to have you and your dedicated co-workers and I hope your new boss learns that PDQ. I hope your fellow workers also have something they love that can serve as an outlet from the pressures of the job. I am feeling so sad for the one who asked that question.

  9. A thought provoking post Springman...
    As for tne Coms man-management skills??? he needs to re-read his manual...
    Wonderful images of your lovely wildlife.

  10. Fantastic shots of the juvenile eagles. And I love the shot of the nighthawk, what a cool sighting. Springman, great post and photos! Thanks for hosting.

  11. oh dear, nine of them. I was happy with one. And I thought I had a great shot to show. :)

    I did take a closer look at the canadian shot. Thought it looekd odd. Then I realised it is a watermirror in the lower part. Cool!:)

  12. My goodness! I can fully appreciate your line, "It doesn't really matter if the pictures come out or not". After way too many years working for the government, not a day goes by that I do not relish my freedom. At times I find myself a bit forgetful of my good fortune, but your words will help keep me on track. Thank you. Hang in there.

  13. You certainly have an uphill job with lack of equipment and your new chief. It sounds to me like he is out of his depth and on the attack as the best line of defence. With us here, the Metropolitan Fire Service has the latest and greatest and paid jobs, whereas the Country Fire Service is the poor cousin with volunteers at the coal face and equipment paid for by chook raffles and baking scones and these are the people who put their lives on the line on a daily basis while their bosses sit in their air-conditioned offices and send them into the raging fire-front. I get a bit hot under the collar about the whole subject.

    I well understand the solace you get out of birdwatching. Bird photography is like berry picking in the woods. Some seasons there are few or no berries but very occasionally you find the perfect raspberry patch before the bears and get that perfect shot when you do have the right lens on your camera.

    Did you notice that both those young eagles have similar gaps, on the same wings, in their flight feathers?

  14. Wonderful photos, all of them! I especially like the geese flying in the golden shine. Interesting reading to...

    Have a nice week :)

  15. I shudder at the work days you describe. I'm thankful to the ones like you who keep us safe all around our world.
    Beautiful bird photos and such a contrast to what you describe in the city.

  16. Nothing cleans up the soul better than a good walk in nature!! I was in EMS in NYC for about 6 yrs so I know the kinds of brutality people can unleash on each other and on the community around them. IT’S NOT GOOD! Glad you have your escape and you bring back the goods to share...I would say you struck GOLD this time in many ways...those young Eagles remind me of my wonderful ice cream called Moose Tracks---gliding in the sky...
    OH and the nighthawk...GOOD job tracking that one. Amazing light on the Gaggle—All in all the perfect Band-Aid to cover the wound created by a burecratic baboon I hope.

  17. My heart goes out to you Springman! Our son is a firefighter and EMT. There is no way we can possibly imagine the stress you must have to go through. You're work is invaluable! Bless you!
    Also your pictures are simply awesome!
    Take care.

  18. Great shots and here's to serenity in nature!!

  19. Your exhaustion of soul is evident in your writing. I am glad you have found an outlet for your grief and frustration. Many people don't know such repose. Your artistic talent is truly a gift. Though you share it with us, I suspect it is what keeps you sane so that you can take care of the people who depend upon you. thank-you.
    (And don't you just love it when you check out those shots on the computer and you find a great one?

  20. Sometimes that's all you can do is to chuckle at the naivety of some. Nothing as peaceful as sitting and watching nature unfold.
    Beautiful shots!

  21. Haunting notes of "It's only castles burning" came to mind... am dropping in late in the night after the first day back at work, after the wonders of vacation. Be well, Springman, hard days ahead for everyone I fear... but I thank the deities that there are a few like you to help light the way through the fog.

  22. Such an eloquent post, Springman. Your words and photos reveal the stark contrast between your vocation and avocation. It is good that you can get lost for a while in the beauty of nature.
    I can't imagine seeing nine young Eagles in the sky at one time - what an experience! Thanks for hosting WBW and sharing the silver from your camera's treasure chest.

  23. Beautiful meditation; there is a calming effect photography can have, even on days when it seems we do fill our virtual trash cans. Your images are so peaceful, from the Canadian geese flying low above the water to your night hawk soaring high (and of course the ever peaceful, patient Great Blue Heron).

  24. Hi there - I just want to say thank you for this post. Too many people are all too willing to sit back and not say what needs to be said. Budget cuts my ear! When his house burns down it will be a different story!

    I had a job (which was nothing like yours) where the stress caused by poor management almost broke me. I became ill in a way I never want to feel again - I should have told the truth long before it got to that point! As people have said - it was only a connection with the "wild" that kept me going. This post reminds me of how stupid some people can be, and how important even a few moments with wild things can be.

    Cheers Stewart M – Australia

    PS: the pictures are a bonus on a post like this!

  25. How did that man become the Fire Commissioner? Your job is tough enough without having to cope with defective equipment.

    You aced the juvenile Eagles in flight shot!
    I am always wishing for better light.:)

  26. Springman, you sure have been having a rough time of it and I cannot believe what the commissioner said! Thank you for your service,even if I don't live anywhere near you. My grandfather, uncle and all my male cousins were and are firefighters, as is one of my brother-in-laws. You do a great service risking your lives with little compensation.

    I understand the draw of the wild and the call of nature. To me it is the unexpected surprises that make it all even more worthwhile, but just sitting in the serenity of the woods or in the mountains or on a beach, it is all soothing to the soul. I can lose my troubles in a few hours of nature. I see that you can too.

    I think all of your shots are good today. I have not seen a nighthawk since last year so it is nice to see one. when I lived in Tucson I used to get lesser nighthawks all the time in the summer and I loved it. I do not think I will see any this year.

    Thanks for all your comments and your hard work and thank for doing this meme. While I am new to it I am really starting to enjoy it. Stay safe, and I hope you get someone to repair that truck soon! I would think that living in Detroit, the Motor City, they would be able to find SOMEONE to do it!

  27. I am sorry to hear of your new boss being such a prick :(
    And about the troubles that are getting worse there. I'm not going to go deeper into that or you prob. get me started....
    I can totally relate to the relaxing and leaving troubles behind part. I am so glad to be back in a place where I can do the same.
    I love the photos you caught and I am glad your patience got rewarded!

  28. Congrats on the 40st WBW! I don't have any birds at the moment, I'll be back as soon as I do!

  29. Thanks so much for correcting my goof. I did see the mistake but this was before you corrected it, and I reposted it. I hope this was OK. Thanks again

  30. What a beautiful blog, the Eagles are fabulous!! Really..excellent captures, thanks-

  31. nothing makes me happier then time spent in nature with my camera!! your wildlife photo's are amazing!!

    this is an oustanding entry!!

  32. Your post is deeply moving and I might have missed it if I hadn't joined WBW today . . . wishing you peace . . . Also, your line about serendipity is so true - I experience it time and again - just today I caught my best hummingbird shot and I was in a panic for sure! And lastly thank you for your amazing comment on my loon post! I am bursting with pride now :)

  33. Your images are wonderful as usual. And once again, the stories that accompany them are marvelous. As for your particular struggles with the hard parts of your days spent at work, you have my sympathy for the hard parts and my complete admiration for what you do. I will keep you in my thoughts and hope for better days ahead.

  34. There is nothing like getting out in nature to be at peace within yourself & set things in better perspective.Beautiful pictures,as always!
    I am grateful for the thankless job you sometimes get from numbnuts like that guy,I don`t think he`ll last that long there if he doesn`t change HIS perspective.Thanks for hosting us,phyllis

  35. Beautiful shots of the immature Bald Eagles Dave and that Nightjar is gorgeous. The serenity of the Great Blue Heron in the wetlands along with your description leave me speechless.

    Being a volunteer fire fighter for several years I can identify with your plight on the job. You guys don't get paid near enough and your new boss is obviously an idiot with no sense of how to manage his way out of a wet paper bag.

    Stay safe and keep looking forward to those peaceful times in nature.

  36. PS the roman numeral for 40 is XL ;-)

  37. Great shots of the birds, I like the eagles, I like the reflection and the quiet heron waiting for a catch. Just like you I imagine, sitting there watching the bird. Such a contrast to the life in the cities, I know where I want to be. Touching story, Springman, thanks for sharing.


  38. David, you are a superlative human being; I admire how you balance your dangerous and life-sapping inner city job with your meditative life in the natural world. You are a gifted writer. One of the newspapers in Detroit ought to pick up on it and publish it. The shots of the immature Bald Eagles and the Nighthawk are fabulous. I know how difficult it is to get a decent photo of a bird against a bright sky. For me there is a trade-off: overexpose the sky, i.e. adding exposure compensation, and at least get some detail in the main subject, the bird. It's a lot of trial and error.

  39. Your post made me feel up, then down, then up again. Your writing tugs at my emotions -- I feel for you and your firefighter brothers. It's a dangerous and difficult job, even under the best of circumstances. I'm glad that you are able to find some respite in nature. Your photos are wonderful. :)

  40. i have enjoyed so many new visitors from this link. thanks very much!!!!

  41. Which photo do I comment on! I thought the eagles were awesome, till I saw those geese! Then the nighthawk! And the heron!!!
    As to your professional woes, I can only say I am ever so grateful for you and all of your brothers and sisters in arms! May I continue to never need your services, the good lord willing!

  42. I'm in awe of your 'flight' shots. This post is so eloquently written - truly, it makes me stop and think.

    In a world of trying to just make it in daily life, always rushing, trying to complete tasks that seem to always be a little beyond the grasp of finishing; it's always nice to come here and find a little sanctuary and serenity for my mind in all the beautiful photos I find here at The Pine River Review.
    Thanks so much for hosting WBW.