Troubleshooting a Mistaken Turn

Holy crap, the calendar now has “September” at the top. That means I am officially in Halloween jitters and more concerning, the monthly post counter reset. Luckily, it is dog show weekend which means we are on the road – translated – extra cycles to get out ahead of this month’s contributions. Today’s colorful featured feathered friend comes to you thanks to a self-induced dose of absolute panic.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

While on our Expedition Part Tres we stopped up in Door County to see what they had to offer on the birding front. I’ll kill the suspense right here – nada. In their defense it was mostly raining while we were there (imagine that). Time to shift into plan ‘B’ err… make that plan ‘T’, full on ‘T’ourist mode. Linda takes control of the daily agenda and next thing I know I’m standing at the base of the Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor, WI sporting a wristband announcing to the world “My wife is trying to KILL me”. I ask you, why would a “loving” wife take her height averse husband to a giant column in the sky and then challenge his mancard to convince him to climb up a narrow staircase to a tiny little balcony bordered with a flimsy railing?? Yes, you in the back row..”To push you off?”. Correcto-mundo.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

Hit the jump to find out what got “Turned”.

Not to mention I had The Beast with me so one-handed Bri had a GI Joe Kung Fu grip on the trim around the outside wall of that deathtrap. Unfortunately, this was not the absolute panic episode I was referring to earlier. Nope, it wasn’t until I finished scraping all the skin off my kneecaps crawling down the metal grates they used for steps that the “real” panic set in. After catching my breadth and making a call to CANCEL my life insurance (waaaayyy too much motivation ha), I headed over to the shore to see if there were any birds. All of a sudden about a hundred Cormorants decided to fly by skimming just over the waveline. Snap hmm, snap hu, snap what, snap WTH, snap WTF! The Beast would not auto-focus.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

Quickly went through my troubleshooting list. Glass on tight, camera focus mode on auto, exposure not off the charts, rear focus override activated, battery has enough charge, video mode off.. all looked good. Per Linda’s description, Bri lost his shit. In a Hail Mary shot I removed The Beast, cleaned the bayonet and tried again. No luck. Trembling, I decided to swap glass with Linda – if it worked, infinite sadness, if it didn’t then well, less sadness. Linda’s glass auto-focused. Next logical step, The Beast on Linda’s camera – please work, please work, please work… NO WORKY – AAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

I bet you are desperately figuring out why this prompted the Ruddy Turnstones you have been looking at. Hang in there a bit, got you covered. There are very few material items I cherish more than The Beast. Maybe a perfectly broken in set of trail shoes or my 3D printers might come in a very very distance 2nd or 3rd. I think I just got an evil glare from my lovely (but devious) wife… oh,right clearly my ring is my most cherished item (probably should stay out of the lighthouses for a while).

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

For the rest of the day I was totally bummed. My baby was broken and there was plenty of trip left (and a visit to the International Crane Foundation the very next day). That night I went through my checklist again, scoured the Internet for possible solutions and pretty much turned into grumpy Bri when all those failed. Late that night something clicked – maybe there was a focus switch on the glass. I was pretty sure there wasn’t as I couldn’t recall ever seeing one – at least through the Lenscoat covering openings. Started pulling all the sections of the covering off and then there it was – a small A/M button that was completely covered. It had been “turned” off. Apparently as my life was passing before my eyes on the top of the lighthouse, the lever got tripped. MAJOR RELIEF – and a new item on the troubleshooting list.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

Talk about a long lead in. Let’s get to the heart of the post shall we. You are currently looking at a Ruddy Turn”the glass A/M Button”stone (link here), that were found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge back in May, 2.5 B.P. (2.5 years Before Pandemic). Normally I would have been surprised to see this bird in the middle of the Midwest. Cornell lists their wintering grounds as a narrow band around the coastal US and Central America and their breeding grounds are up to 6,500 miles away in upper Canada/Greenland and over to Western Europe/Southern Asia.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

Not entirely sure if this group of Turnstones was heading to its breeding grounds or on their way back to their summer haunts when the Emiquon migration magnet kicked in. They were hanging around with another set of birds that you would not expect there, the Black-Necked Stilts (link here and here). At least the Turnstones have this place on their flyover – the Stilts are not even listed anywhere near Illinois (yet, like the Turnstones, I photograph them every year here).

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

The Stilts likely appreciated the extra eyes looking out for any dangers and assuredly the smaller Ruddies benefited from the higher perspective. Whatever was going on to the right held their interests far more than The Beast pointed directly at them.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

Should probably get to the interesting facts, especially after making you sit through the long lead in. These Turnstones are very nimble on the wet rocks of their shoreline habitats. Per Cornell’s website, they have enhanced footing with tiny spines on the bottom of their feet and sharp curved claws for gripping. You can see those tiny claws in the first two shots at the start of the post. Maybe ASICS can adapt that into their trail shoes to help us trail runners with the water crossings.

Ruddy Turnstone found at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge in May 2017

To close this post out, their young gets the award for the toughest first 3 weeks. During this time, they have to learn to fly before being abandoned by their parents and then have to leave on their own for their first migration thousands of miles away – no snowflakes in that species!

will be seeing you again very soon, until then, be careful if your significant other offers to take you up in a lighthouse.

21 thoughts on “Troubleshooting a Mistaken Turn”

    1. The official day is only 57 days away, but our big haunted trail event is only 20 days away!!! Fortunately, my brother Ron is coming down next weekend to help me get the work on the new props polished off. One of the longest phases of the whole ordeal is getting the hundreds and hundreds of batteries installed – if I’m lucky I can convince Linda to take over that chore again this year. Thanks for dropping in Timothy and all hail El Dia de los Muertos!

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      1. It used to be a one day event – prep would start maybe on Thursday through the start of the event at 5 on Saturday. After all the guests left (usually after 2 am) we would tear it all down and bring it back out of the valley before packing it all away during the following week. It has grown significantly bigger over the years and now takes the entire week ahead to set up, the event is now spread across two days and the tear down usually takes a couple of days to get everything out of the valley and at least another week to pack away. A labor of joy! As soon as that is all done, the prop building for next year begins.

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  1. Love the group shots B, sometimes a wider view is so much nicer.
    As for your lens problem, well I’m sat here shaking my head, how could you not have checked that little auto/manual button first? All my lenses have them and I’m frequently turning them on/off (I do a fair bit of manual focusing). Best fright I’ve had was accidentally knocking the camera mode button to M when I usually have it set for either aperture or shutter priority (depending on the subject). Can you imagine having a quick check of the images of a rare butterfly you just snapped and they are just a bright white so over exposed blur? Oh how I laughed.
    Any way Berlin beckons in just over 24 hrs, see you soon.

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    1. I know, I know, should have thought of that a lot sooner, but I’ve had The Beast for so long that it didn’t occur to me that a model specific manufactured lens covering would choose to leave off a window for an important button like that – there are clear windows for all the other switches and buttons on the glass – just not that one. I can definitely relate to having the mode button switched to something unexpectedly – I use the custom/user modes on my D7500 to quickly put all the settings to my preferred state – U1 – bird on a stick, U2 bird in the air. That also sets the rear focus button so when that is off then everything is bad. I pick up Linda’s low light D810 and I’m like a newb as she has everything set specifically for her (which does NOT include rear button focus) and then Nikon went and switched the order of the control buttons on the back of the camera. They allow you to reset them, but Linda has threatened me with being thrown off a lighthouse if I even consider doing that. Good luck on your trip – assuming you are heading out to see the Lemming – wish her well for me.

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    1. Hey, let’s not give her any MORE reasons to inflict bodily harm on me ha! I forgot to include the cell phone picture she took of me hanging onto the outer wall of the lighthouse (felt like 40mph wind up there as well) – absolute terror for me, apparently infinite humor for her. The Haunted Trail is coming up at the end of the month – just might have to add a few “extra” props at strategic points hehehe. Thanks for dropping in CJ.

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    1. It was a close call, but I made it out of there alive! – still trying to get the knees healed up ha! Thanks for coming by Lisa and for pulling for me in such a dangerous situation. As a climber you are probably aware of Zion NP. A very similar scenario (steep cliff, one handed, narrow plank crossing, Linda making chicken sounds) played out on one of their dangerous trails and ever since has been known as “The Incident” – I think there is a theme here and I should STOP letting her pick the activities!

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  2. Very pretty little birds. I like the colors and sharp contrast. They remind me of a sandpiper.
    BTW, you might want to consider epoxy for the MA/M slider button.
    And yes, that lighthouse is tall. And the water around it is very cold (can you sense a film noir reference forming)?

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    1. The epoxy might be a good idea .. except that might impact the resale value if I ever decide to upgrade to the new model which has the 1.4 tele built into it – read that while imagining me salivating ha. Apparently you are familiar with that lighthouse! It was a sunny windy day, nobody around and the death chilled waves were scarring the banks impatiently waiting for the days sacrifice….

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  3. Great shots of the Turnstones – they are colorful in their own way, with their sharp black, russet and white patches. I get a kick out of photos of them “face-on” in their breeding plumage, where their black sideburns make them look like little black-wigged high-court judges from the UK (pre-2011, when the requirement for wigs was discontinued). Loved the in-flight photos, good job getting them sharp. Traveling with my mountain goat brother, I’ve learned to check new adventures for alternate ground-based routes – I prefer his teasing to my liquid knees!

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    1. Thank you Sam. Wish I had a bit more sunlight, but for the most part thought the shots came out pretty good. Excellent analogy on their wigged headshot – they did seam to be holding court with the Stilts.. maybe those were the bailiffs (unfortunately, not that familiar with the judicial system of the UK so not even sure if they have such a thing). Ah, the liquid knees – building my house subsided a lot of my fears thank to hanging off rafters three floors above the ground, however, at least then I could lock my legs around the beam and nail my clothes to it if I had to – places like the lighthouse where I have to rely on the workmanship of another (in this case long since dead) and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the trust required of others up there… I’ll keep my knees nearer the ground thank you hehehehe. Appreciate you dropping in!

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    1. Thank you Reed, glad you enjoyed your time. they images would have popped a bit more had I had a little better lighting, but the Stones were very accommodating to have the big glass pointed directly at them. Probably relying on the Stilts to take care of business if I got out of hand ha! As always, appreciate it when you stop in.

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