Feelin’ just ducky … update to duckling rescue.

This post, just as short and sweet as a duckling, will update you on the aftermath of my recent post about the duckling rescue on July 15th. Click here if you missed it. Many of you wanted to know how that last duckling fared after its rescue. You will recall, Mama waddled off with her seven ducklings and another duckling was rescued from the sewer after Mama and her brood were long gone. A search in the neighbors’ backyards to reunite Mama with her duckling was not successful, thus Gabrielle became foster mother to the remaining duckling. This last duckling is now residing at Michigan Duck Rescue and Sanctuary. I have been in touch with Matt at the Sanctuary several times this week. I asked Matt why Mama Duck would not notice she was short a duckling and he told me she is assured her ducklings are trailing behind her, but does not know how many ducklings there are. This last rescued duckling is a female and will have plenty of new duckling kin to socialize with. Matt has been rescuing waterfowl since 2006 and has a barn and pond in Brighton, Michigan where these rescued, abandoned or wounded waterfowl will live out their days thanks to Matt, his wife and a contingent of volunteers who help with rescues and delivery of waterfowl to the Sanctuary. These photos are from Matt’s website. The Sanctuary is 5.4 acres and the pond is one acre, illuminated at night and has surveillance cameras. I’d say these are lucky ducks, wouldn’t you?

Posted in nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Sun-kissed starbursts. #Wordless Wednesday #Tiger Lilies

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

A few thoughts about the upcoming Olympics.

First, I am taking liberties with my self-imposed intention of only publishing two posts per week because, after all, the Olympics only happens once every four years, (give or take a year).

We all know that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, just like so many other sports events, were tainted by the COVID pandemic. After rescheduling the Olympic Games, COVID protocol will be enforced, so there will be no spectators allowed and when the medals are presented, they’ll just hand them on a tray to the winner to put around their own neck. Yep, COVID has taken a lot of the pizazz out of this event.

To be honest, I’m not a big sports fan. Back in the day I liked watching the professional figure skaters at the Winter Olympics, especially in the era of the “two Brians” (Brian Orser and Brian Boitano) and Scott Hamilton or Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan. My parents never watched sports live or on TV and I had no siblings that might have participated in athletics in school. I was exposed to a little wrestling and hockey when we’d go to Toronto to visit my grandparents when I was a little nipper. We’d arrive and there they sat, eyes glued to the B&W television, engrossed in a sports event at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. Sometimes greats like Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant were on the wrestling card, or, like good, hockey-loving Canadians, they’d be rootin’ for their Leafs playing at the same venue.

As for sports, I’ve never played any, unless I can count walking as a sport? I know I fail bigtime for swimming. I never learned to swim, so if I tried to do so, I might look like this flailing Ring-Billed Seagull.

I don’t think the Olympics has a category for this, do you?

I’ve been collecting some funny shots of Canada Geese this Summer and when organizing my photos recently, I decided they might make a blog-worthy Olympics post. Sadly, I don’t have any photos of geese wearing bathing caps for these swimming events.

The Olympics begin July 23rd and by now Canada Geese Olympic hopefuls from all over the world have gathered.

There are no participants in water polo, but what do you think about these categories?

The event known as Artistic Swimming.
(And they remembered to practice social distancing too!)
The event known as Artistic Swimming.
The event known as Diving.
(Maybe not a graceful move, but hey, if it qualifies, go for it!)
The event known as Diving.
The event known as Swimming.
(Look at those powerful legs for plowing through the water.)
The event known as Swimming.
The event known as Marathon Swimming.
(Hmm, those chest muscles look pretty powerful – were steroids used?)
The event known as Marathon Swimming.

Not everyone will go home a medal winner of course and there will be mixed reactions and disappointment for failing self and country.

We’re on our way to the podium now – which one of us will win bronze, silver or gold?
I am medal ready; I even perfected the pose and as you see in the header image, I won!!
How awful – I didn’t win anything. I’m hanging my head in shame.
I’ll just take my flippers and swim home!

(Olympics photos from Olympics.com; Ralph Waldo Emerson quote from Pinterest) 

Posted in event, nature | Tagged , , | 49 Comments

SOS! Ducklings in Distress!

Thursday morning was just like any other during this long, hot and rainy Summer of 2021. As I got dressed and ready to leave on my walk, the weatherman was detailing our potentially severe weather and projected inch or so of rain for later that afternoon. The dew point and humidity were both at 75 and it was already 71F (22 C). Ugh! I dressed as light as I could and still be deemed respectable.

It was about 8:15 a.m. when I was almost to Council Point Park, at the point where Pagel Avenue and New York Avenue converge, when I saw her. Or perhaps I should say I heard her. Mama Mallard was pacing nervously in the street and near the sewer grate as two very tiny ducklings marched lockstep with her. Sometimes she was quacking while pacing.

Next, after Mama circled around the sewer grate, she peered inside.

From my vantage point, this told me all I needed to know … some of her ducklings had fallen through the sewer grate and into the sewer. Here is a close-up of the culprit.

I stepped over and peered into the grate, where I saw a dark pool of water below. Several of Mama’s offspring were paddling, emitting tiny nervous peeps and squeaks that were intensified by the hollow opening. I bent down closer and could see two, maybe three, ducklings swimming around. When I looked over, Mama had stopped in her tracks with a gaze that implored me to do something to save her babies.

I turned to her and tried to calm her down, speaking softly by saying “Sweetie, I feel your pain – I’ll help you get your ducklings out.”

Pausing and pacing

I have the Lincoln Park police phone number memorized so I called. When I got through to Central Dispatch, I am positive the desk officer heard Mama and her down-under brood quacking. I gave her the location and said I’d wait. She told me that was unnecessary, but I waited anyway, thinking I could console Mama, plus step closer to the grate. I was a Nervous Nellie watching Mama as she paced, not only around the grate but OVER it. The ducklings, on the heels of her wide, webbed feet, had a difficult time keeping up with her stride and a couple of times they lost their balance, almost sliding through the grate to join their siblings. For about twenty more minutes, Mama paced, the ducklings paced and I sneaked a peek down each side street to assure Mama and myself that help was still on the way. She paused at the sewer grate each “lap” she made and kept quacking and her brood in the sewer serenaded me as I peered in. Here are a few pictures. I ask you … who could walk away from this duckling dilemma?

Just then, a woman pulled over in her vehicle to ask if I was okay. I pointed at Mama and her pair of ducklings and filled her in on the story. The woman, whose name is Jae, returned a few minutes later to join me in my “watch” and by then a few other folks meandered over as well, prompting Mama to move across the street, away from the commotion and she positioned herself on a neighbor’s front lawn to watch and wait.

Well, isn’t that just ducky?!

One woman had brought a crowbar and lifted the grate and pushed it aside in less than a minute, so we clustered around for a better look. Meanwhile, just down the street, Rudy had been mowing his lawn and saw us and came over to scope out the situation. He went home and got a laser light, a pool skimmer and his wife Janis returned with him. The pool skimmer was lowered into the hole.

Rudy then pondered the next move.

He tested the depth of the sewer water with a crowbar and deemed it was safe, so he stepped into the hole.

With the skimmer, he was able to grab one duckling, but it flopped around like a fish and escaped … twice! So a Plan “B” was needed. Rudy asked Janis to bring his rubber boots and a net – he figured he had a better chance to nab those babies by slipping right down into the hole. Now there’s a woman on a mission.

Rudy donned the rubber boots and without further ado lowered himself into the sewer hole.

Once Rudy was in the sewer hole, we were all hovering over him like a surgical team during a life-and-death operation, holding or passing along surgical instruments, only these “instruments” were a laser light, or a net. Soon we had the first capture. As Rudy dipped the net and caught a duckling, he carefully brought it to the surface. There was a round of cheers and like an assembly line, one woman passed the net to another and she grabbed the duckling from the net and set it free.

Look at that duckling run to Mama! Its beak is open – what was it saying? Mama came into the street to greet it and nuzzled her baby with her beak.

A second duckling rescue happened within minutes. You can see her brood growing.

Mama marched back over to the lawn. She had great expectations. So did we, thus we stayed on task at the sewer hole because we still heard squeaks and peeps.

Meanwhile, the plot thickened with this duckling drama!

Jae’s daughter Gabrielle kept an eye on the little family and stayed close to Mama to ensure she didn’t cross the street with her ducklings in all the excitement and be hurt by a vehicle.

While standing guard, Gabrielle heard some peeping coming from another sewer grate and alerted us.

Everyone hurried over.

Sure enough, the ducklings had paddled from one area to another! What to do? Rudy pulled off the second sewer grate and got down closer to look for ducklings. As you can see, this opening was much narrower and had encrusted cement on the sides. We could hear them, but couldn’t see them.

The Ordinance Control truck pulled up just then and Officer Horvath hopped out.

Officer Horvath had parked the vehicle near the first sewer hole which we had now abandoned, so he joined us at the second hole, toting a large black net. Your Roving Reporter asked him “how often do you have to rescue ducklings?” His response was “more than you know.” There were now eight of us peering into this sewer and meanwhile, Mama, patiently awaited the rest of her family.

Hmm – how could we lure the remaining ducklings to the open hole?

Rudy went home, then returned, toting a five-gallon bucket of water, hoping to flush the remaining ducklings closer to the entrance of the hole, while Gabrielle pulled out her smartphone, Googled “duck noises” then put her phone close to the open hole, all to no avail. One women ran and grabbed a duckling right from under Mama’s nose, er … beak, then slipped it into the small orange net. She had to cover the top to keep it from escaping. As she held it close to the opening, this duckling rebelled with squeaky quacks and it was sheer magic as its siblings paddled over immediately. [Hmm – would this duckling pictured below be a duckling whisperer?]

A few dips with Officer Horvath’s big net and all ducklings were presumably accounted for.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Five ducklings were rescued and returned to Mama; our mission was complete, as far as we could tell. We were confident there were no more peeps and squeaks coming from the sewer. Mama, hightailed it from the crowd, waddling down Pagel Avenue, her seven ducklings behind her in a neat queue. She left without a flourish, no “see ya” or “thanks for saving my babies” … but that was okay too. She was probably heading to Council Point Park, just a block away.

But … Mama needed an abacus it seems.

Our little group, strangers really … a mixture of neighbors from both blocks, two walkers and Officer Horvath, visited after the ordeal, then dispersed (or so I thought). It was 9:22 a.m. and late for me, but I wanted to get to the Park and feed the critters and get at least one loop walked, as an all-day rain was predicted for Friday. I looked for Mama and her brood thinking they had a head start on me, but surely I’d catch up with them. I never saw them though.

On the way home, Jae saw me, pulled over to the curb and rolled the window down. She said “guess what – after you left we found another duckling; the Ordinance Officer fished it out. We looked everywhere for Mama and her ducklings, even in backyards and they were nowhere!” I told her I had not seen them at the Park either. She said “I guess my daughter will keep the duckling if she cannot find the Mama.” Jae promised to keep me apprised when she sees me walking down the street and I will message her on Facebook through our City Neighborhood forum to send this post. I know Michigan Duck Rescue and Sanctuary will also give that Mallard munchkin a good home if/when Junior gets too big for Gabrielle to handle.

Query: Why didn’t Mama take a head count of her brood? Just askin’.

Posted in nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 87 Comments

Mallard Munchkins. #Wordless Wednesday #Darling Ducklings

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 41 Comments

Miles for Meals; 2021 Happy Soles 5K.

I’m a tad behind writing about the Fish & Loaves Virtual 5K which I completed on May 29th. This is the fourth 5K I’ve done for this local food pantry; the prior 5K posts can be found here here and here.

The 2020 event was virtual as well, but this year, it took a radical twist.

First, all participants were issued a challenge to collectively surpass (in miles) the number of households that Fish & Loaves served in 2020, i.e. 12,118 families, so 12,118 miles (19,502 km).

Second, our personal 5K event could take place any date of our choosing, from May 1st through June 13th, BUT this was not just a one-day event, as participants were encouraged to count their miles throughout the entire six-week period. Also, we were not restricted to just running or walking, but bicycling, swimming, rowing, even walking around the house were additional alternative ways to garner miles throughout the six-week challenge period.

Third, there was an added incentive for all participants to submit a tagline to be used for event swag/tee-shirts. The winning entry also would have their registration fee waived for the 2022 Happy Soles 5K event.

So, how did I fare?

I did those challenges. I entered my tagline “Feed the hungry and feel the burn!” when I registered back in January. The winning entry was “Miles for Meals”. I did walk the 5K (3.2 miles) on May 29th and my total accumulated walking miles for the six-week period totaled 184.2 miles (296 km).

The final tally for the 99 participants unfortunately fell short of the hoped-for goal (12,118 miles); the last tally on June 13th yielded 7,888.8 miles (12,695.7 km). I met the event organizer, Ellen Pfafflin, when I went to the food pantry to pick up my swag on June 13th. Ellen and fellow race coordinator Deb are hopeful for an in-person event for 2022.

This picture-laden post will be fairly long as I’m also doing a recap of my personal 5K event.

My 5K on May 29th.

I returned to historical Heritage Park to complete my 5K, as that was the site I chose for the 2020 virtual 5K and it is also the same venue for the organization’s annual on-site events.

The weather conditions were kind of weird for the first day of the Memorial Day holiday, i.e. it was 44F (6C) with 18 mph (30 kph) winds, sometimes gusting to 23 mph (37 kph). Brr! My fingers were cold and belatedly I realized I should have worn gloves. Unbelievably the day before, the official high temp was only 50F (10C) and broke the previous May 28th record for lowest high temp set in 1930. Yikes! And, just a few days before that, I had the A/C on and it was so humid, I left on my a.m. walks in a sleeveless shirt!

Heritage Park was the second of three Park stops I made that day. I’d already bopped down to the Riverfront in search of Mute Swan cygnets with no luck. Heritage Park’s picturesque, man-made Coan Lake does not have swans, but it has plenty of Canada geese, Mallards, Ring-billed Gulls and occasionally you’ll see a Cormorant or a Great Blue Heron dropping by.

I was hopeful to see some ducklings and luckily I found three sets of Mamas with their ducklings in tow. There was one problem though – the gusty winds and grassy slope near the seawall did not bode well for sure footing. I didn’t feel like ending up in the drink due to a sudden gust of wind. The camera’s shutter clicks spooked two Mallard families and both Mamas took off in a heartbeat, eager to evade the tall “menacing” stranger.

In addition to my duckling quest, I wandered around the historical village looking for photos to memorialize this 5K event. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these buildings from prior posts, but for newer followers of this blog, I’ll include a few of them.

The sideways spray and wayward droplets from the Coan Lake fountains give you an indication of the wind velocity.

At the gazebo, everything was in order for an event and my second time around the historical village, I saw a pair of photographers were setting up for a wedding. Woe was them as the incessant gusts of wind kept knocking over the chairs and unraveling the décor, even threatening to topple some of their camera equipment which already was wobbling on unsteady tripod legs.

Near the gazebo I met two friendly walkers, Nanette and Nancy and, like with most fellow walkers, the subject of the weather was an immediate topic, rather than a more-traditional greeting of “good morning” as you might guess. The ladies huddled under their hoodies, hands thrust into their pockets, while I bemoaned not having toted a pair of gloves.

I passed the cute Little Red Schoolhouse …

… then stopped at the old log cabin, a fully restored structure which dates back to the 1850s and is still used for civic functions and school class groups.

The historical village’s Town Hall flag was flapping briskly in the wind. The flag was at half-mast in remembrance of the nine victims of the mass killing on May 26th in San Jose, California.

I meandered along and stopped by the water-powered mill.

Tucked away behind the seawall, near an iron fence by the path to the entrance and also paddling around in Coan Lake is where I discovered ducklings galore!

Shh! A dozing Mama Mallard with her equally sleepy ducklings did not see me looming large nearby.

I stood behind the fence to avoid startling her as I knew she and her offspring would awaken, then instantly plop into the water. She had eyes at the back of her head (like my mom) and was instantly alert and watching over all her babies.

Just a few feet over, three ducklings played in the water, all the time emitting squeaky quacks of joy as they practiced climbing up on the rocks, then plunging back into the water. I watched the “Three Musketeers” with their bravado, but they soon tired and one by one toddled off to be with Mama and their siblings.

Suffice it to say I was in my glory – you will see more of these darling ducklings in my next Wordless Wednesday post which I’ll entitle “Mallard Munchkins”.

I didn’t stop at the Botanical Gardens as they had a “Plantapalooza” event with volunteers planting flowers and also selling plants.

It was a breezy, but blissful walk and before the car pulled into my driveway, I made a pit stop at Council Point Park to walk a quick, one-mile loop and feed my furry and feathered pals, which added more steps and gave me over six miles to add to my total. Thank you if you hung in to the end of this very long post, but I wanted to touch on not only the highlights, but some background on the 5K as well.

Posted in 5K events, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments

Those daisy, er … dazy, er … lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer. #Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, nature | Tagged , , , , | 78 Comments

On this Independence Day, soar like a bird …

(or a firecracker).

Stay unflappable (unlike this flag)

But most of all, stay safe. Click here for a fun 4th of July greeting.

Posted in 4th of July | Tagged , | 28 Comments

We both have lots of miles. #Wordless Wednesday #Best step it up Linda (605/1,256 mi; 973/2,021 km so far in 2021)

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, goal, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 48 Comments

Nutty Buddy.

I want to share a story, which blog post I was tempted to entitle “Animals Never Forget” (at least when it comes to food anyway). That statement makes me think of elephants which reportedly never forget … that’s not just for peanuts, but there are many heart-warming tales I’ve read about baby elephants rescued by humans in the wild, then they forevermore trail after those people, lumbering along, occasionally grabbing onto them with their trunk, like a friendly handshake or a loving gesture.

Now, I don’t interact with elephants, but I do so with squirrels and birds on a regular basis, as anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows. These stories were not at Council Point Park, but at my house.

Welcome back!?!?

It was a mid-afternoon in May when I opened the front door to check the mail. Our eyes met and though it was approximately 25 feet away, there was a flicker of recognition on both our parts. I continued watching this stranger for a minute or so, who then went back to nibbling on a slice of pizza.

Suddenly, there was a move reminiscent of the videos that went viral of “Pizza Rat” (the rodent that dragged a slice of pizza down a set of stairs in a New York subway and then in this video along a street grate. (Click here if you missed it.)

I watched this wiry little black squirrel dragging a humungus slice of pizza across the street and then handily depositing it on my City property. It then stood on haunches and eyed me again. I finally opened the screen door to check the mail and that squirrel made a beeline for the front porch.

You may recall I fed peanuts to a passel of critters every morning on my front porch for several years. I had quite the following, many pair of critters, not unlike Noah collected for his Ark. There were two Blue Jays, two Cardinals, two Eastern Gray squirrels, two Black squirrels, one Fox squirrel and one poor squirrel that had no fur, not even on its bushy tail, the worst case of mange I’ve ever seen. I gave that poor soul the moniker of “Willard” as it looked like a rat. I wrote about and photographed my collection of critters, especially Grady, one of the gray squirrels, who was especially cute and incessantly begged for peanuts. Then, in the span of a few weeks’ time in Spring 2020, all of these squirrels were gone. I asked my neighbor, whose workplace was closed due to COVID and he was logging lots of TV time at the front window, if he’d seen “my squirrels” and he told me a Coopers Hawk was often across the street in a big tree and no doubt my squirrels had become his prey. I felt sick to my stomach about their horrible demise and stopped feeding everyone immediately.

Because Willard was completely furless, I never knew what species of squirrel it was, but it was exceptionally tiny, especially with no fur on its body or even his tail. I’m convinced this black squirrel is Willard, who escaped the talons of that Coopers Hawk and just like the story about the “Ugly Duckling” Willard has emerged into a beautiful little squirrel. I’ve been feeding it daily and had to stop checking the mail in the afternoon as it scoped me out, licking its lips while scrambling down the tree thinking “yay, Linda put out more peanuts for me!” I wouldn’t get time to open the mailbox lid before this little nipper was at the porch in begging stance.

I’ve named this cutie pie “Two-Tone” for obvious reasons.

Sure, Two-Tone is sleek with shiny black fur …

… but that bushy golden tail looks like a bottle blonde two months into the pandemic, sporting ugly black roots. 🙂

I think it’s a female, but I’m not sure. This recent picture I got in a tree seems to indicate it’s a nursing mom. Two-Tone never stops long enough for me to really check him/her out. In the driveway it gives me wide berth and makes a beeline to the bushes, then to the porch for peanuts. I continually witness this cautious behavior of going to the porch via the cover of bushes which gives credence to the theory it IS Willard, i.e. perhaps Two-Tone saw the fate of its friends rushing out in the open to get their share of peanuts.

I’ve only got two photos outside; the rest are from the front door. It’s scared of me, but braver when the screen door separates us. I have to laugh as Two-Tone is hanging out near the front door every morning when I open it … it wants to get a jump on the Cardinals and Jays who once again have returned for their fair share of peanuts.

Meanwhile, last Monday morning I was checking for storm damage after severe weather Sunday night. I walked into the backyard and saw a hairy gray critter with a white face. I immediately recognized an opossum but we both looked at each other like “who are you and what are you doing here?” I was taken aback, instantly regretting I didn’t have my camera handy, as I’d only dashed out to check the A/C grille for tree debris from the storm so I could turn the A/C on. Of course I was tempted to assign him/her a name … “Oscar the Opossum” or “Petunia the ‘Possum” – no, I decided on neither, as I really don’t want to encourage it to hang around, even if an opossum eats 5,000 ticks a season and we have a tick infestation due to the wonky weather.

Posted in nature | Tagged , , | 86 Comments