Nature lovers here in Southeast Michigan rejoiced at the long-awaited grand opening of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) Humbug Marsh Unit in October 2020. The Visitor and Nature Center did not open simultaneously due to the pandemic, but has since opened. This venue’s website boasts “this habitat supports 300 species of birds, including 30 species of waterfowl, 23 species of raptors and 31 species of shorebirds.”
That is impressive to be sure, but I must be honest here – in my nine or ten treks taken at this venue, there have been times that my usually busy shutter finger isn’t even activated, especially in early Spring or late Fall when Humbug Marsh is downright humdrum, (not to mention muddy).
Since I have to pass the DRIWR as I travel to and from Lake Erie Metropark, I often pop in, although I have been known to just stay in the car and do a drive-by at the Delta region to see if there are any Egrets or Herons I could stalk, er … photograph. Sometimes I just stay on that roadway and head on out to my next stop at beautiful Elizabeth Park.
You may recall in my recap of new birds encountered last year, I mentioned visiting the DRIWR after reading their December 10th Facebook post about the appearance of a Long-tailed Duck. I hustled over there the next day and met two friendly photographers who touted this venue as a great place to shoot birds … using their long lenses of course.
Well, that lucky duck owned the Monguagon Delta, diving for fish in the big pond while we three happy humans were snapping pics of this sole inhabitant of the Delta while chatting it up. The pair, a guy and a gal, wowed me with their tales of sightings of Bufflehead, Merganser and Wood Ducks and raptors like Bald Eagles, Owls and Kestrels, plus a host of Warblers that I have only read about in the Detroit Audubon’s field trip post. For sure, I will be beating a path here more often in 2023 to see if I can add to my Birdie Bucket List (especially a long-coveted owl).
But, in the meantime, as I continue to meander through photos of treks taken in 2022, I would deem my July 31st visit to this nature venue a success. It was mid-day when I took this trek, the fourth stop on a whirlwind photo expedition that day. I still have posts about the first two stops for later this month. I had just left Lake Erie Metropark where I had been gawking at and photographing those lovely Water Lotuses.
Look Ma – no railings!
I must confess, if it’s too windy I back off … as you see, there are no railings and, even though I wouldn’t drown as I can see clear to the bottom, I’d rather not fall into the murky water.
Of note is that I would not return to this venue until mid-September and was surprised to see the water level so depleted I discovered areas of the Delta were bone dry. While I crossed the Monguagon Delta walkway, a few turtles graced me with their presence and I got pretty close to an Egret and a Killdeer. Just as the hot and humid weather had spurred early growth of the Water Lotuses at Lake Erie Metropark, there were Water Lilies dotting the Delta’s surface.
Keep your distance lady and we’ll pose for you.
Turtles are either very shy or very wary of humans. No matter where I am walking, as soon as I spot a row of turtles sunning on a log, one by one they plop into the water. Yes, it’s a little disheartening and I don’t take it personally, but this pair managed to sit tight without any angst long enough to get a photo.
Any port in a storm.
I almost saved the photos of this resourceful turtle perched on this tiny rock for a Wordless Wednesday post. There it was, balancing perfectly, but when this turtle finally slid into the water after noticing me, I saw just how small its perch was.
Killdeer and I share something in common …
… we both have long legs. I could cross that Delta walkway pretty quickly if one of those humungous Carp swam too close – they like doing belly flops and they will smack the water with such force, the walkway is covered with water (and me as well). The Carp grow large because of this sign posted in the Delta …
… and I’m guessing they are way too large for Egrets and Herons to catch and eat.
The Killdeer’s long legs and fondness for speed walking takes it from Point A to Point B in record time, so trying to get a shot of them has been nearly impossible for me. I usually get shots of their back only. This Killdeer, however, stopped to ponder life while wading in the water, so that was a lucky break for me.
An Egret was looking for lunch.
I saw the Egret wading in the Delta and was able to sneak up on it before it finally got tired of being stalked by the paparazzi and it flew off.
My luck finally ran out.
Since it appeared it was my lucky day, I took a quick stroll through the 300-year-old Old Growth Forest embedded in Humbug Marsh. I’ve never read that deer, coyotes, foxes or raccoons are here, but I am aware that Eastern Fox Snakes live at Humbug Marsh. A snake, several paces away would be nice, but not crossing my path. I saw no snakes, but perhaps this big rabbit saw a snake. I hate to think it bolted like this when it saw me!
I was back here several times after this walk and I hope to visit more in 2023. Next week we’ll celebrate the first day of Spring with my visit to Emily Frank Gardens.