Farm-fresh goodies. #Wordless Wednesday

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, Street Photography, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

Having one’s ducks in a row.

Back in the days when I worked on site, it was imperative I had my “ducks in a row” every morning. I took the bus to downtown Detroit for years and even though the bus may not have always arrived on time, I had to be at the bus stop waiting for it like it WOULD show up timely. I’ve long since strayed from that rigid regimen, because for the last decade I’ve been working from home, but I still need to put some pep in my step in order to get out the door daily to garner steps to attain my year-end walking goal.

Today’s post entitled “Having one’s ducks in a row” isn’t all about ME getting out the door to walk and visit my favorite parks – instead, it’s about three posts in a row centering around Mallard ducks, with an identical venue, Heritage Park. So, what’s up with that you ask? Well, the general consensus is you all seem to like ducks, so I’ll indulge you with one more duck post. Lots of squirrel posts will fill my blog in coming months, I assure you.

Ducks are a happy lot and to me they seem to be perpetually smiling … I mean, have you ever seen a duck having a hissy fit the likes of the histrionics exhibited by a Canada Goose? It’s fair to say that next to squirrels, ducks are my favorite critters to photograph.

So, after that siege of rain and flooding of Biblical proportions on June 25th, I knew any excursions to bigger parks would have to wait a while. Not only would my favorite shoreline parks have trails underwater, but the grounds would be soggy as well. Yes, I have rubber boots, but they aren’t conducive for long walks. So, I spent a lot of the soggy, foggy, buggy and muggy Summertime mornings walking at Council Point Park, as torrential rains and storms regularly wrecked havoc with my weekend walking plans. I had a few alternatives like Bishop Park or Dingell Park, along their respective cement Boardwalks, as well as tripping along lovely historical Heritage Park’s paved paths.

So I drove to Heritage Park the following weekend after “The Siege” where an unusual sight greeted me.

Weather for ducks.

I admit I’ve had some fun riddling this post with clichés like “ducks in a row” or “weather for ducks” and yes, you might have “quacked up” or chances are you’re rolling your eyes and groaning. It’s not as if the ducks and geese at Heritage Park don’t have a place to park their feathery butts. They have beautiful Coan Lake, the man-made pond that covers three acres and has a depth of 9 to 18 feet (2.7 to 5.4 meters). Coan Lake is stocked with a variety of fish, for catch-and-release fishing, thus it provides the waterfowl residents like Mallards and Canada Geese, as well as visitors like Cormorants and Ring-billed Seagulls, an opportunity to snag a snack.

Coan Lake is NOT where you catch dinner for Friday’s Fish Fry.
Yep, Heritage Park takes care of its feathered friends.

But despite the amenities, as you see below, the Mallards meandered over to the saturated lawn near the parking lot where they discovered this pond. You may think it is a gulley, but no, it is not – the lawn was so saturated and nowhere for the water to drain, that this pond formed.

“Woo hoo – a new watering hole!”
Water encroached onto the walkway for the memorial trees.

I whipped the camera out then stood there awhile watching them paddling and preening.

Duck, duck, goose.

What we had here was a case of “the haves and the have nots” as a small flock of Canada Geese were flying overhead, so their incessant honking had me tilting my head upward. They passed this pond and parking lot, no doubt heard the “quackcophony” of ducks at the new swimming hole, so they doubled back and landed near the pond.

A gaggle of geese giggled with glee about this new pond.

“Wait, what?” is what their leader seemed to say as he shepherded a small group over to this newfound watering hole, then “what the hey, the more the merrier!” then promptly plopped into the pond to join their feathered, smaller brethren.

The Mallards didn’t seem to mind until this Canada Goose got a little too cozy with one of them.

“Hey – watch it Buster!”

The scene was picturesque and if I didn’t tell you it was just low-lying ground, saturated from “The Siege” and subsequent rainfall, you’d never have known, would you? There were some pretty reflections of one of our fine-feathered friends, like up top and right below.

“Mirror, mirror ….”

This Mallard seemed to test the depth of the water by waddling along with its bright-orange webbed feet on the grassy pond bottom.

“Cool!!! No worries that I’ll drown here – it’s just past my kneecaps!”

The reflections on the water of the 139-year-old West Mound Church, which has been going restoration after a devastating fire nearly gutted the interior on November 2, 2020, were better than looking at the original.

If the windows weren’t boarded up, you’d never guess the extent of the damage.
The inside is gutted from fire, plus water damage from dousing the flames.

The waterfowl wading pool party was the highlight of this excursion.

I meandered around the historical village area …

A view from the overlook – it would appear this green goo is pond scum/algae.
This is Frogbit, an invasive aquatic plant.

… then over to the Community gardens.

Eventually that table will be used to sort through all the produce gleaned from these gardens.
This pool of water should be siphoned into the gardens.
No ducks or geese had discovered this … yet.
Abundant sunshine and rain made beaucoup blooms at the entrance to the Community Gardens.

I finished up at the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens where I got the only butterfly shots of the entire Summer and those photos will be fodder to share in a separate post.

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Molting Mallards  #Wordless Wednesday  #Poor feather babies

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Seize the (Week)Day #8.  Feelin’ Ducky at Heritage Park.

This is the eighth and final post in this limited series of excursions taken on early weekday mornings in the month of June. If you missed the reason I ventured out so early, you can read about it here.

This morning meander was taken on June 24th at picturesque Heritage Park, in Taylor, Michigan. We had enjoyed three days in a row of coolish temps, so, as you know from prior posts, I escaped for excursions at larger parks to enjoy a walk with temps that were not humid and/or oppressive. I knew I would enjoy this trip as rain was in the forecast, but, as I headed out that morning, I had no idea just how much I’d savor this particular excursion, because the following day, Friday, June 25th, was the beginning of a siege of torrential rain, severe weather and/or storms, heat and humidity that has lasted into October. This weird and wacky weather pattern has never been the norm for Southeast Michigan and I despair how climate change has wreaked havoc on what used to be four distinct seasons and a temperate Summer, but for those few Dog Days of August. As I write this post, while reflecting on the weather this past week, unbelievably, we soared to nearly 80 F (26C) most days, with icky-sticky humidity and dew points. Sure, I got my steps in as I continue to chase my year-end walking goal, but it felt more like August than October.

I was up at the crack of dawn and out the door shortly thereafter.

While at Heritage Park on June 24th, there were the usual serene scenes, perfect for picture-taking. I’m sure by now you are familiar with the sights around this historical village that surrounds Coan Lake from prior posts.

It was so early, the floodlights were still on!
The water-powered saw mill.
The gazebo.
The covered bridge and Coan Lake fountain in the foreground.
The Little Red Schoolhouse.

I was enjoying the serenity of the still morning, the reflections on the water and was surprised to discover I had the venue all to myself … well, me and the many mallards that were milling about. Usually, there are a few dog walkers or folks jogging or walking, but maybe this was because it was a weekday?

But suddenly there were clouds on the horizon ….

Though there was no rumble of thunder, I had the sensation of the sunlight being turned off, just like that … almost like Mother Nature had turned off a light switch. I looked up to see a dark and brooding cloud overhead. Yikes! It looked like it would pour any minute and I had parked far away to get extra steps in. So, should I assume it was going to pour, thus I needed to scurry back to the car – there was really nowhere to duck for cover here in the village. But, I opted to stay and was glad I did because that pesky dark cloud stayed parked overhead the rest of the time I was at this venue and did not yield a single raindrop. But it sure looked ominous the entire time.

Blue skies, nothing but blue skies … then this.
Hmm – do I stay or do I go?

For my perseverance, I got a treasure trove of Mama and duckling shots.

In years past, many times I’ve gone to Heritage Park hoping to get shots of fuzzy ducklings. This was certainly my year for doing so, as I got close to and photographed several of these cutie pies. So, when I saw this family of older ducklings, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were the same babies I’d oohed and aahed over about six weeks before during the Fish & Loaves Virtual 5K event.

The plumage on these ducklings looked just about as dark as the brooding clouds overhead. I love how they were snuggled up with their siblings.

Hey lady – did you bring treats in exchange for the photo you’re about to take of me?
Ho hum, yawn – just another morning being especially cute and photogenic.
Sometimes ya gotta get away from the maddening crowd – know what I mean?
Interacting with my siblings downright bores me and tires me out!
Oh – you’re still here?

The inquisitive ducklings watched my every move and Mama monitored me as well, in between standing guard and having a brief cat nap, er … duck nap, while debating whether she should take her babies to the water away from the big, bad stranger who loomed nearby. Notice that she always has one eye on me, ever watchful of my movements.

Mama stands guard near her brood.
Mama decides eyes at half-mast while “on guard” is permissible.
A plop in the grass for a quick minute; standing one-legged is not all that comfy.

This Mallard Mama steered her tiny ducklings to the edge of Coan Lake, so obviously I was perceived as a threat to her little family.

Evading that tall person who is encroaching in their personal space.

Happily I managed to duck the rain

I left Heritage Park a little earlier than planned, but that was okay too as I had a treasure trove of photos to create this blog post and also this week’s Wordless Wednesday post that will feature some of the male Mallards I encountered that morning. Those adult males were molting and had quite an unusual look to their plumage than you would usually see.

The day after this delightful, just ducky walk, Southeast Michigan got what was termed a “once-in-500-years-rain event” when 6.8 inches (17 centimeters) of rain fell in 24 hours, leaving countless homes with severe flood damage and a whopping 1,000 vehicles abandoned and bobbing around on the local freeways, a sight that made the national news. In early June Michigan HAD been classified as being in moderate drought, but after this weather event and subsequent flash floods and torrential rains, that classification was wiped out, leaving us with the buggiest, muggiest Summer that I have ever experienced.

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Buoy meets gull(s).  #Wordless Wednesday  #Gulls just wanna have fun BUT 3’s a crowd!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

Seize the (Week)Day #7. Bishop Park and Downtown Wyandotte.

This is the seventh post in this limited series of excursions taken on early weekday mornings in the month of June. If you missed the reason I ventured out so early, you can read about it here.

This excursion was on June 23rd and began at beautiful Bishop Park in downtown Wyandotte. We had three days in a row of coolish weather, so I got out all three mornings. On this morning, I headed for a stroll on the Bishop Park boardwalk and wended my way through downtown Wyandotte to BASF Park. There was nothing remarkable about BASF Park, so this post will focus on fishflies and Biddle Avenue.

Fishflies are an annual occurrence here in the Midwest and parts of Canada. There is a siege of them that erupts in mid-to-late June. The fishfly larvae, which have been living beneath the surface of large bodies of water like lakes and rivers for several years, suddenly emerge and though they only live a few days after hatching, they are annoying to be sure. But, even though we tolerate ‘em here in Southeast Michigan, the upside to this phenomenon is that the appearance of fishflies means our ecosystem is in balance. Well yay us, because it seems we have climate change issues and weather worries, so we’re happy the fishflies are thriving.

We never experience fishflies at Council Point Park as the Ecorse Creek does not produce them, but just five miles away at Bishop Park, you’re sure to see swarms of them. They won’t harm you and they may even alight on an arm or a hand. You’d not even notice their flimsy bodies clinging to your clothes. I’ve had that happen before – now if a spider or centipede landed on me … well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. Fishflies have even been known to cause traffic accidents when swarms of them descend onto roadways causing a slick and greasy surface. Also of note, smooshed fishflies smell fishy. Yes – ugh!

Hmm – perhaps this seagull has a fishfly caught in its craw?

The media is all over the annual fishflies’ arrival.

Just look on any news media site during the fishfly siege and you’re sure to see videos or still shots of thousands of fishflies clinging to ATM machine, buildings, boardwalks or boats. So, I decided to capture some images of these icky-sticky creatures along the Bishop Park boardwalk and the buildings on Biddle Avenue.

I’ve actually seen more fishflies at one time, so I could have come back, but this gives you a flavor for the fishfly dilemma. They are not a dilemma to everyone – in New Baltimore, Michigan they hold an annual Fishfly Festival to honor the little buggers.

Once I decided I had my fill of fishfly photos, I continued my morning meander through downtown Wyandotte. It was early and most offices or stores weren’t open, save for the coffee shops or a bustling crowd at the drive-thru at McDonald’s.

Believe the clock on the right – it was early morn.
The City was slow to change to their Summer flags.
Even without the change in flags signifying Summer, the hanging baskets were already blooming and beautiful.
The shopkeepers on the Avenue always spruce up their sidewalks with flowers.
Well, this shopkeeper was thinking Summery thoughts.
It was not too early to plan for the Fourth of July blowout. Downtown Wyandotte is a hoppin’ place and has many fun events all year around, including parades, a street fair, fireworks and monthly gatherings for “Third Friday”.
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate Biddle Avenue.
The totem pole was carved by Gordon Watkins, and is constructed of cedar. It was donated to the City of Wyandotte in 1971 to celebrate the City’s 100th anniversary.
This year the City of Wyandotte turned 150.
Sweets for the sweetie in your life or a sweet indulgence for YOU.
Yikes! This is hardly a sweet sign is it?
I guess masks are permitted but were they before COVID-19?

Next week will be the finale in this series of early morning excursions, but no worries, there were plenty of other excursions that took me out and about to my favorite haunts.

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Mum’s the Word!  #Wordless Wednesday  #Fabulous Fall Flowers

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, Seasons | Tagged , , , , | 47 Comments

Seize the (Week)Day #6. Glimpses from the Boardwalk.

This is the sixth post in this limited series of excursions taken on early weekday mornings in the month of June. If you missed the reason I ventured out so early, you can read about it here.

This excursion was on June 22nd and began at Dingell Park on a gorgeous, almost nippy, Pure Michigan morning. After hanging out at the pavilion area, I meandered along the boardwalk, chattin’ it up with a fisherman or two and checking out their catch of the day. My journey took me to the River’s Edge Marina and back.

Lingering at the Dingell Park Pavilion.

I was positioned at the pavilion in search of seagulls, hoping to collect a few funny shots of them. One cruised lazily overhead. But unfortunately no seagulls alighted on the pavilion or boardwalk railings while stealing a glance to see if I cared to share some breakfast with them.

Mallards lined up orderly on a log while preening or snoozing …

… and one duck alternately dabbled and paddled nearby.

There was nothing much to see here, but the spider webs on the “No Fishing” sign.

But it was an idyllic setting. A fisherman cut his motor off and dropped a line.

Suddenly, the ducks plopped off the log into the water and sped toward, then beneath the pavilion – what in the world? The seagulls likewise exited the sky. So what was up?

Mystified, I shaded my eyes from the bright sun and looked out onto the water – nothing amiss there. I decided to walk down the boardwalk. When I whirled around, I had my answer why everyone left in a hurry: a Red-Tailed Hawk! How long had it been lurking up there and why didn’t I turn around sooner as it was looming large in the tree right behind where I was standing?!?!

That Hawk’s appearance sure explained the absence of ducks and seagulls. After we checked each other out, Mr. Hawk left.

The early bird catches the worm.

Evidently there had already been some fisherpersons lurking about, as I saw several containers of night crawlers along the boardwalk.

I stopped this gentleman to peer into his bucket of fish and he had just landed one, so I asked him to pose with it. I learned it was a Wide-Mouthed Bass in case you fish aficionados out there wanted to know.

Well, nothing much was happenin’ on the Boardwalk either, save for a heron that blitzed by me, shrieking its head off …

… as if I was tormenting it. I wondered if Mr. Hawk would tangle with Mr. Heron and decided the latter was safe and did not need me running interference for it.

Along the way to the Marina.

Since photo pickin’s were slim at Dingell Park, I decided to walk to the River’s Edge Marina, about a half-mile away. In the past, I used to walk from home, down Emmons Boulevard, across the double set of railroad tracks, then I’d stop at the Marina before returning home. That was a nice, four-mile jaunt to a picturesque place, where the rowing club usually pushed off early Saturday morning and sometimes, if I was lucky, I’d see the train crossing in the background, its boxcars gaily decorated with graffiti which reflected nicely on the calm water. It was a trip I made almost all year around, but usually on the weekend, in case I got stopped by a long train. After I discovered Council Point Park in 2013, the trips here were few and far between. The boardwalk stretches along the Detroit River at Jefferson Avenue.

This dock looks a little desolate.

I wondered if there was a boating incident/death when I saw this memorial.

The reflections were great, but the train was nowhere to be seen in this scene.

It was serene, the water very calm, with no boaters, rowers … not even a single duck had ventured out. I returned to Dingell Park, taking a photo of the pavilion area as I walked toward it.

It wasn’t the longest walk I’ve been on in Summer when I can leave earlier and get in extra steps – I went three miles. I could afford to be generous and give myself some slack regarding my lack of steps since it was only June. (I hope I don’t get to the last days of 2021 and then be missing a couple of miles which I could have done that day.)

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(Finally) Fall!  #Wordless Wednesday  #They’re happy; I’m happy too: 1,000 miles/1,609 kms.

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

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Transitions …

Here we are on the cusp of Fall – I don’t know about you, but in my opinion it sure is welcome.

Autumn has always been my favorite season anyway, even if it leads up to Winter, my least-favorite season. I love the chill in the air, sweatshirts and long pants and the sound of crisp leaves crunching beneath my shoes. But unfortunately these seasons often clash here in Southeast Michigan, bringing us snow and ice long before the calendar’s official date of Winter.

It was not just a warm and toasty Summer, but hot and steamy was the more accurate description as the Metro region was the ninth hottest on record since 1874, with 15 days over 90 F/32 C. My weather radio was shrieking incessantly. I kept track of the severe storm forecasts – 19 as of last week. I’m sure I have a few new wrinkles and gray hairs from the worrisome and volatile weather. It was also the seventh rainiest Summer on record for us as we are near 20 inches/50 cms. But the past few days, there was a definite nip in the air that caused me to don long sleeves and pants.

The seasons have been clashing here a lot the last few weeks.

At first, the changes were subtle and began around mid-August with the different angle of the sun as I headed east toward Council Point Park. The glare of the sun instantly darkened my glasses and, at times, made it almost impossible to see. This sun’s angle suddenly spotlighted the iridescent trails where slugs had inched across City sidewalks while I was fast asleep. Also hard at work in the overnight hours were spiders spinning massive webs, seemingly in thin air, hooking them from a house to a tree or bush that I passed by. Those webs are nearly invisible … that is, until a web cloaks you in sticky filaments … ugh! As a person who both fears and loathes spiders, I know I must look funny frantically clawing the air to rid myself of the web.

Meanwhile, at Council Point Park the leaves have been drifting down to the path and bright yellow Poplar leaves litter the surface of the Creek making the water look polka-dotted. Sloppy V-formations of geese honk noisily overhead as they confer among themselves whether to grab a bite of grass at the Park or continue on to a bigger and maybe better grazing venue.

Amazingly, the first hints of color showed up as early as August 4th this Summer. I took a photo of my watch so I wouldn’t forget the date.

Sometimes rose-colored glasses are in order at this venue.

This Park has been my happy place since I discovered it in 2013.

Just because I’ve not written about my encounters with my furry and feathered friends lately does not mean I’ve abandoned this venue – not at all; I just didn’t take many photos there this Summer. At times my favorite nature nook has been downright cringe-worthy, especially as I recall Summers in the past with neatly trimmed paths and complete shoreline access to the water. Then I took funny photos of Parker or the other squirrels, Harry the Heron fishing or occasional encounters with the ducks and geese.

But the Park, as well as the grass-mowing crew, just like so many other recreational venues, businesses and the like, evidently lacks enough employees to have a substantial workforce to enable the Park to stay as pristine as in the past. Thus, there have been three organized volunteer cleanups this Summer. But I guess that is just for trash?

The Park used to be mowed weekly, yet this year, even in the peak growing season, it was only mowed every three or four weeks. Using the weed whipper for edging and trimming has not been done at all this year. You can see the difference where I fed the critters from Fall through Spring and after the weeds grew over my ankles, I abandoned walking over to the log and stump area to leave peanuts, sunflower seeds or any other treats for the squirrels and birds for fear of ticks, maybe mice or even snakes. The weeds are way past my knees now.

Before:

After:

Nor have I crept close to the banks of the Ecorse Creek to capture images of turtles lined up on a log on sunny mornings due to the high grass and weeds along the shoreline. Sit down for a spell … well maybe not; besides the view is not so great.

The graffiti has languished on cement walls and garbage cans all Summer as well.

The squirrels and birds are not always showing up for peanuts either.

I’ve already mentioned the presence of hawks at Council Point Park. In the past, it might have been an occasional hawk just passing through, but now there are a pair of juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks routinely streaking through the skies on a daily basis. They work together: one chases the squirrel and when it scurries toward the nearest tree, the other hawk tries to grab it. Thankfully, I’ve only heard about this and not witnessed it, but the squirrels seem very wary of the presence of these hawks and often, as I walk along the path, I hear the squirrel warning cries coming from the tall trees.

As I write this post on Saturday afternoon, I must tell you that this morning, at my usual time, I walked the entire perimeter path without seeing one squirrel. That is odd indeed. This time of year they are gathering nuts to squirrel away and usually are starting to get chubby in advance of the colder weather. I always leave a stash of peanuts in what I’ve deemed the three safest spots in the Park: the Weeping Mulberry Tree (a/k/a “The Safe Haven Tree”), as well as in the grass as close as I will get to the fallen log/stump area mentioned above and I’ve also been leaving peanuts on the picnic table under the pavilion roof, all safe spots away from hawks (hopefully), though my little buddies often run away from the safe spots to bury a peanut, thus exposing themselves to the hawks. I saw another hawk this morning, watching and waiting from his perch in a dead tree. I didn’t take pictures as I got those close-ups a few weeks ago. We stared at one another until he eventually flew away. Perhaps the squirrels saw that hawk too as none ventured out to the path. It makes me sad as the squirrels, as well as the Jays, Cardinals and even the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers scamming peanuts from those squirrels, are always a welcome part of my morning Park experience.

It’s not all doom and gloom … there were a few things that made me smile.

Because we had so much rain, there were no Robins hunkering down near homeowners’ sprinklers to freshen their feathers or hopping through the grass blades on moist lawns while on worm-finding expeditions – that was my loss as they are rather comical to watch, but on the flip side, there were birds bathing, just splashing away in puddles in the street or in potholes. A Goldfinch sang its cheery song for me as well almost every morning.

Though dogs are not allowed in the Park, people bring them anyway, usually on a leash, but this young woman carried her dog named “Lola” in a bag every day, even during those wicked “Dog Days of Summer” – yes those days were aptly named!

I hope to reach 1,000 miles/1,609 kilometers walked by the first day of Fall. I had to really step up my game as the sun has been getting up later and later, essentially shaving steps off my daily total. That will leave me just 256 miles/411 kilometers to get ‘er done by year end. Whew! Wish me luck! Forward, then onward and upward!

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