Loosey goosies

This is part two of my trip to BASF Waterfront Park last Saturday.

It’s a short and sweet post about the various families of Canada Geese I saw on my morning stroll. The geese and goslings were the highlight of the morning. There were four different families, with goslings in different stages of development, from tiny fuzzballs, to those with adult plumage and they looked big enough to fledge.

The parents seemed a bit skittish, likely from all the boaters invading their domain, so the geese were mostly on land or hugging the rocky shoreline when the whole family ventured into the water. I was in a primo spot, standing on one of the overlooks, so I could see the families paddling right beneath where I was standing. The header image shows the almost full-grown goslings. It looks like they’ve been in the mud or taken a dust bath, but it is just their adult plumage coming in while some yellow fuzz still remains. I thought it was an interesting picture so I used it up top.

You don’t realize the progression of growth in these feathered babies until you see the various sizes on display here (in no particular order).

Smooth sailing … well, maybe not so much.

There was a small traffic jam on the River with boats and geese galore!

With so many motorboats, the smallest goslings were having a tough time keeping up with Mom and Pop, staying upright and not tilting over from the size of the waves. A couple of times I held my breath, afraid the wee ones would be sent crashing into the boulders, but they hung on and probably just got a little seasick from the waves.

Note to Mom and Pop … pack a little Dramamine next time! 🙂

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So, are you “toes up” this Memorial Day weekend?

It’s our first long holiday of the year here in the U.S. Usually by the end of May, this long weekend, typically called “the Gateway to Summer”, is always such a welcome respite from our usually hectic daily lives.

But, as you know, this year is like no other and the chance to be “toes up” and enjoy a little rest and relaxation does not hold the same allure as in the past. In fact, it falls flat after most of us have been cocooning for over two months.

I saw this Snoopy Toes Up flag while walking through the ‘hood and decided it was perfect for this long holiday post. So what will you do?

I plan to stay close to home and try to get things done around the house, allowing for a long daily walk, weather permitting. Most of the larger shoreline parks that I frequent on weekends are flooded. Every Saturday, from May through the end of September, Hines Park shuts down six miles of roadway to vehicles for “Saturday in the Park” and this venue was on my potential Saturday agenda, but now Hines Drive is flooded. I had also planned to visit the extensive grounds of Henry and Clara Ford’s Estate to see the many lilacs in bloom, but it is closed due to the pandemic. Council Point Park also remains closed. Guess it will be a walk in the ‘hood for me. Hmm.

Here in Michigan, a/k/a the Great Lakes State, there are plenty of activities revolving around water. Last Saturday, I strolled along the boardwalks at Bishop Park and BASF Waterfront Park. I walked six miles that day. Here’s what I saw.

Gone fishin’ (‘cuz the Walleye and Silver Bass are runnin’).

As I pulled into the parking lot at Bishop Park, it was already crowded. A glance toward the Detroit River told me the fishermen and boaters had arrived long before me.

Boats jammed the waterway.

The wooden pier which juts into the Detroit River was filled with fishermen, lined shoulder to shoulder.

The boardwalk was humming as anglers cast out, hoping to reel in that evening’s dinner and maybe some fish to spare.

They brought their night crawlers and tackle boxes …

… and their patience.

As I strolled along the boardwalk, I heard snippets of conversation about who caught what and how many. This time of year, when the Walleye and Silver Bass are running, it gets mighty crowded at all the riverfront parks, as those anglers choose their spots carefully, either fishing from their boats, or along the piers/boardwalks.

Everyone was in a happy-go-lucky mood, glad that the colder temps and rain from a few days before were gone and they could enjoy their favorite pastime again. I stopped to chat with one fisherman after I overheard part of his conversation about the Silver Bass he had snagged. So I wandered over and said “I see the big crowd here because the Walleye and Silver Bass are runnin’ – so, you did okay I hear?” He flashed me a big smile and said “c’mon, I’ll show you” and proceeded to pull a cage up out of the River. He set it on the boardwalk so I could see his fish and take a photo.

I asked “so this is dinner tonight?” and he said “yep, but let me show you this guy’s Walleye because it is even bigger!” We stepped away from his catch of the day and walked over to this guy’s Walleye which was still tethered on a line in the River.

It was getting rather crowded at Bishop Park, so I left to walk through downtown Wyandotte to BASF Waterfront Park, which you may recall I recently discovered on March 7th . It is just 0.8 mile from Bishop Park, so an easy walk. The last time I did this same trek was just before the Coronavirus was gathering steam and created a new normal.

So, here we are, 10 weeks later and it’s Springtime

First, I must draw your attention to the flags which were at half-staff in this City.

Many cities have been honoring the people who have died from COVID-19 by keeping their flags lowered – Wyandotte was no exception. Sadly, the day after I took this walk, the beloved Mayor of Wyandotte, Joe Peterson, passed away suddenly. He was in public service for the City for 31 years, before becoming mayor in 2009. For sure, the flags will remain at half-staff for a long time.

Next was BASF Waterfront Park.

Thankfully this park was less crowded. I headed right to the River. The boats and fishermen were plentiful here too. Multiple families of geese were out and about and I’ll do a separate, short post about them.

At nearby Wyandotte Shores Golf Course the golfers were happy to be perfecting their swing and didn’t seem to mind they had to carry their own golf bags as carts were not allowed.

There was no human activity at the Wyandotte Boat Club as I strolled the grounds, just the Canada geese that mingled around the barren area, while grazing with their goslings.

The shoreline scene was rather desolate looking. This weekend would have been the annual Rowing Club Regatta, cancelled, just like so many other events due to COVID-19.

Just as I was ready to leave BASF Park, the Algoma Innovator, a 650-foot freighter appeared in the distance near the skyline of Detroit. I’ve included a close-up of this bulk cargo hauler.

It was a beautiful morning for a walk along the Detroit River.

Stay safe this weekend and may your picnic be ant-free.

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The COVID-19 road has been rocky. #Wordless Wednesday. #Local kids are sharin’ the love!

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

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It’s lovely weather for …

… Ducks!

The past week’s weather here in Southeast Michigan has been anything but ducky … it’s been wacky and wet.

The weather is akin to Baskin Robbins’ ice cream flavor of the month, as lately it seems like Mother Nature is trying out a new weather scheme every weekend. Two weekends ago it was a sudden heat wave with temps hovering at 80F (26C), then last weekend the high temp was half of that, 40F (4C), with snowflakes and a hard freeze that followed a few days later.

Then we had two days of torrential rain, one nice day (thankfully Saturday) and now we are immersed in three more days of rain and thunderstorms.

The grass is lush, the robins are happily gorging themselves on juicy worms, but the steady rains are wreaking havoc with our shorelines and parks, some which I frequent on the weekends.

I enjoy going to scenic Elizabeth Park as you know from prior posts. At this venue, while I am walking, the camera gets a workout as there are geese and ducks galore, even the occasional heron, egret or cormorant if you are lucky. Elizabeth Park is an island which is separated from the mainland (Trenton, Michigan) by a canal. You access this park via a vehicular bridge that crosses that narrow body of water. This is the third year in a row the canals have flooded their banks and water has encroached onto the sidewalks which run parallel to the canal.

I visited this park on Sunday, May 3rd after someone posted photos on Elizabeth Park’s Facebook site of a Canada Goose standing on a sidewalk that was submerged in water. I decided to go there and check out the flooding and see if I could get some similar pictures.

The flooding was pretty spectacular!

On one side of the vehicular bridge were some ducks. Did you notice that this duck and the ones in the header image are sitting on a rock? This big rock is normally part of the shoreline walkway.

On the other side of the vehicular bridge is where the Canada Goose was. There were no geese that day, just a pair of seagulls. It is interesting that these seagulls are not wading in water up to their knees (if a seagull has knees). They are standing on the same cement sidewalk that separates the canal from the local residences.

Here is a picture of how part of that sidewalk looks now.

I skirted the canal to take pictures of the flooding as it was incredulous to me how it looked. From the vehicular bridge, you can see how trees are standing in water and the banks are flooded. Many feet back from the flooded area, the grass was very soggy and it was like walking on a sponge. I was glad I wore my vinyl boots.

Here are some more pictures of the flooding damage in the low-lying areas.

This is in a wooded portion of Elizabeth Park – it is not part of the canal, but it is now a bog.

Thankfully not all areas of Elizabeth Park are flooded.

Of course, the ducks pay no mind to the excess water – they’re lovin’ it.

People use two idioms to describe rainy weather: “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “it’s lovely weather for ducks” … the ducks could care less if it rains every day because now they can just walk right into the water … easy-peasy for our feathered friends.

Elizabeth Park has Pekin ducks, those snowy-white, rather large ducks and they are quite tame as many people feed the ducks corn at this venue.

I was taking pictures of the Pekin duck when suddenly it glided right toward me …

… and walked right out of the water and proceeded to cross the sidewalk before my very eyes, not more than two feet away I might add.

So, why did the Pekin cross the road, er … sidewalk? To get to the other side where its Mallard Hybrid friends were of course!

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Growing up to be a Canada Goose.

(It’s a work in progress and certainly not the Mother Goose story you grew up with.)

Mama and Papa Goose swim … the goslings swim.

Mama and Papa Goose graze … the goslings graze too.

But, what happens when Mama and Papa Goose fight with each another? Whose side do ya take?

The narrative and photos in this post originate from the Fish & Loaves Virtual 5K that I participated in on May 9th and was the subject of yesterday’s blog post. During that trek, you may recall I saw a pair of Canada Geese at the Sawmill at Heritage Park.

Initially, when I took that picture, I failed to see their two goslings that were nearby in the water. Perhaps the parents felt threatened by my presence (though I was certainly not THAT close to them), as Mama and Papa Goose decided it was time to vamoose!

I watched as the parents slid into the water next to their offspring and began the journey across Coan Lake. Right away I noticed they had only two goslings, not the usual five or six. I felt a little sad wondering what happened to the rest of the clan?

Aren’t they sweet?

These geese and goslings had some powerful paddling prowess and crossed Coan Lake in a matter of minutes.

I decided to hightail it back near the covered bridge to be the official Welcoming Committee.

Mama Goose scoped me out to ensure I was not a threat to the family since I kept turning up like a bad penny.

Of course they had to have a bite to eat … all that swimming made them hungry.

Mama Goose, still skeptical of why I was there, watched me out of the corner of her eye while grazing.

When you’re still a wee one, of course your eyes get heavy with a tummyful of grass and while basking in the sunshine … sometimes you just have to take a load off your feet.

With geese, I notice they are always aware of their surroundings, swiveling their heads on their slender necks to ensure they and/or their brood are safe from land predators, or even human predators like me. But, it is also important to beware of strange non-waterfowl creatures that lurk at the water’s edge.

See how Mama checks out this Tree Swallow …

… who suddenly felt threatened and moved down the seawall. The gosling, mimicking its mother, craned its neck backward to scope out the Big Bad Tree Swallow.

The other gosling was too engrossed in eating to be bird watching. Look at those big feet!

Domestic bliss; then in a heartbeat … Mama and Papa go ballistic!

After their quick snack, I watched Mama and Papa Goose herd their small brood back to the water’s edge. Mama was in the lead, the two goslings toddling behind her. Those little chicks walked down the small ramp that the Mallards use to ease themselves into Coan Lake. Papa followed close behind.

A Fox squirrel appeared at my side, looking up at me and since I always carry peanuts in my pocket, I was happy to oblige him. In that few seconds that I reached for peanuts and bent down to give them to my furry pal, I almost missed all the action.

Suddenly I heard honking and splashing noises, then noticed a blur of brown wings flapping and water churning. Wow – a little goose drama is always good for a few shots in a blog post. I looked closely while wondering “so, was it an intruder trying to hurt Mama and/or her babies?”

Watching through the camera window, I was amazed to discover it was Mama and Papa who were having the spat. (In front of the kids no less!) It is not the first time I’ve seen what appeared to be mates fighting like this. It usually starts out as a honk or a hiss and soon, there goes the marital bliss!

Papa Goose was flailing about, his feathers obviously ruffled about something and Mama Goose was no slouch in this squabble either. She matched every hiss and honk by Papa Goose in kind. I wasn’t quick enough to get both of their bodies in one shot as they squared off like a couple of cowboy gunslingers, hissing wildly, eyes bugged out and necks stretched low to the surface of the water.

In the below photo you see just how aggressive Mama was with her mate! Meanwhile, the goslings were off to the side, their eyes glued to the scene like they were watching a pay-per-view fight night event. Yikes!

But I had a little smile when the fight was over and Mama, still a tad riled up, was joined by her goslings. Please notice the gosling on the left hissing at Papa. Yep, he’s a go-getter that one. 🙂

Soon Papa Goose joined the trio albeit a tad sulky and standoffish for now.

A mere moment later, all apparent grievances were resolved and everyone seemed happy for the time being and paddling around like nothing had happened.

Hmm – humans take note how easy that resolution was.

Postscript – A few minutes later the family climbed up on land again, Papa Goose was still lagging a little behind (perhaps not quite welcomed back into the fold of the family just yet). So, there I stood, the annoying women with the camera, who was ready to air their dirty laundry to the rest of the world. Mama Goose glared at me, so I got the heck out of Dodge before I was next to bear the brunt of her anger!

I’ll leave you with this quote:

The universe is wider than our views of it. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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On your mark, …


… GO!!!

Last Saturday I spent a delightful morning at Heritage Park. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while, know there is always something to see and write about when I go to this scenic and historical venue.

The ambiance makes Heritage Park a perfect place to have a peaceful meander year ‘round, but Spring is one of my favorite times, as the many flowering trees lend their pastel tones to an otherwise still-muted landscape. I was also hoping to glimpse some ducklings, as Coan Lake is always teeming with Mallards. I’m still hoping to fulfill my “Birdie Bucket List for 2020” by getting some duckling shots.

Well, it was not the day for ducklings … unbelievably, there were only two Mallards strutting around the grounds and none paddling in Coan Lake. I suspect, that out in the bushes, female Mallards were sitting on their nests and the males, a/k/a Drakes, were hovering nearby … you know them as nervous expectant fathers. 🙂

Annual Happy Soles 5K Run/Walk (with a twist).

I had not only chosen this venue for the above reasons, but I was there to participate in a virtual 5K walk for the local food pantry known as Fish & Loaves. This is their mission:

I have done two 5Ks in the past for this charity and the posts can be found here and here.

Last year I participated in four different 5Ks, raising money for charity while ambling along to enjoy the event and take pictures for a blog post. Two 5Ks raised money for local education, one for shelter pets and then there was Fish & Loaves.

So, when I received an e-mail to sign up for the Happy Soles Virtual 5K, I decided to give it a whirl – it’s the only organized walk I will do this year and this organization is in need of donations due to so much unemployment in our area.

The rules were to participate in a 5K walk or run, anywhere you wanted, any date/time between May 4th and June 30th, then, upon completion, you posted your results at the race website. A tee-shirt and finishing medal will be awarded the first week in July. Because I don’t have a smartphone, I could not officially sync/certify my race results, just post them. That’s okay, I never strive to get great race results anyway.

So let’s get started on this Virtual 5K for Fish & Loaves Food Pantry.

It was Saturday, May 9th – unbelievably, the weather was more like March. It was blustery and just 31F/-0C when I pulled into the parking lot at Heritage Park. It seemed hard to believe the weekend before people were walking around in shorts and tank tops and the cold weather on “race day” persisted long into the week we just ended, with traces of snow and record-setting cold weather.

As usual, I was masked up and the cold air was causing that all-too-familiar issue of fogging up my eyeglasses. I adjusted the mask so I could see where I was going and didn’t bump into anyone – not likely, as it seemed I was the only person there.

My favorite part of Heritage Park is the historical village. I like the old-time atmosphere there, the peace and tranquility of Coan Lake and its covered bridge, along with the aqua-colored hues of the water-powered Mill and the dribs and drabs of red from the caboose and box car, and of course, the Little Red Schoolhouse.

Coan Lake never disappoints (well usually).

I went straight to Coan Lake by the covered bridge looking for ducklings but was surprised to see no waterfowl at all – not a single seagull swooped preciously close to my head. That had to be a first for me, so I figured I would just meander around and return to Coan Lake later.

First up – The Little Red Schoolhouse.

On every trip to Heritage Park I always get a shot or two of the Taylor Heritage School, that cute, one-room schoolhouse near Coan Lake.

I must confess that on this day, however, my initial reason for stopping at the vintage-looking schoolhouse was because I decided to get a photo of my reflection in the door. I was wearing a wool hat pulled down to my eyebrows and all that was visible were my darkened eyeglasses and the big face mask. Surely this virtual race and my masked-up face would reflect the sign of the times. In fact, the signage at the Little Red Schoolhouse just solidified my thoughts.

The flash fizzled a bit, so I decided to abandon that idea and peek in the windows on the other side of the schoolhouse as there was very little sun glare.

Wait a minute! Aren’t all the Michigan kids being home schooled?!

I thought it would be fun to get pictures of these two students gazing wistfully out the side windows of the schoolhouse.

One day I’m going to attend the annual historical buildings open house and get some photos of the inside, instead of always peering in from the outside.

Next up was the log house where I peered in those windows as well.

Next on the walking agenda was the Water Mill Building. I love the subdued color and the big waterwheel and usually take a photo of this building every time I walk at Heritage Park.

I spotted the first Canada Geese of the day strutting their stuff by the gate. In this picture which I took from across Coan Lake, I didn’t notice at that time the parents were minding their offspring. I thought they were simply milling around the Mill.

I quickly walked over to see if I could get a better shot of them, but they decided to move to the water’s edge. I got this picture which included a Tree Swallow who nearly photobombed that shot.

The two geese plopped into the water shortly after I arrived and quickly set out, their goslings obediently trailing behind Mom. Usually the goslings number around five or six, so I was a little sad to see only two goslings for this family. This was the only family of geese I saw at Heritage Park. I took several pictures of the family over the next half-hour and I’ll include them in a separate post.

Swallows were swooping, dive-bombing and photo bombing nearly every shot I took, but when I tried to take a picture of them on their own, they flew away. They move very quickly, so I was lucky to get one swallow resting quietly on a boulder near the covered bridge.

Next, I decided to stroll over to the Petting Farm and Botanical Gardens.

Heritage Park Petting Farm.

I don’t know if they were open for business or not due to the pandemic. I got as close to the white wooden fence as I could, craning my neck for a sign of life in the barnyard. A few non-screaming goats congregated in one area of the pen, while a sheep was baaing loudly – was he protesting something … a late breakfast, looking for his kinfolk? I don’t know, but that critter kept it up the entire time I walked the outskirts of the farm.

Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Just a few more months (and a little more warmth), and the Taylor Conservatory & Botanical Gardens will be bursting at the seams with colorful blooms, butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. I’ve been to the Botanical Gardens plenty of times in the Summer in search of hummers, but sadly they elude me, even on the hottest and most tropical-feeling days. I aim to take pictures of those lovely creatures, so I’ll be beating a path there once more flowers are out.

I wandered around the area, taking a few pictures of the now rather bare-bones landscape. A few perennials were up and blooming and hardy annuals as well, all adding a touch of color.

But fear not … a little TLC by the many volunteers and Mother Nature’s sunshine will be the ingredients for beauty to surround us in a month or so. The Botanical Gardens features music in the park all Summer; but likely these events will be cancelled, like all our other favorite Summer pastimes as the pandemic rages on.

I chatted with a volunteer who was bent over weeding a garden by this bench.

She told me the gusts of wind were not so great for “potting day” at the Park.

The Community and Good Will Gardens were barren, awaiting the planting of veggie and flower seeds, or plants by the hardworking folks who tend the gardens and reap the benefits by late Summer.

I’ve written a few posts about the gardens in the past and you met Mike who reserves two plots every year – one for his veggies and one for his wife’s flowers. I know all these folks are eager to get their fingers into the soil, but right now it is closed due to the pandemic.

I stopped to take a handful of photos before departing the historical area of Heritage Park. I like this old piece of farm equipment behind the Taylor Historical Museum.

I met the fellow who feeds corn to the ducks every morning and we chatted it up a little. I’ve written about him in the past. I mentioned I was doing my virtual 5K because last year he was a volunteer near the last leg of the race. I asked “where are all the ducks?” He said he’d not seen any either and was going to the feed store for more corn. “Well perhaps that will bring them back” I told him.

The very last stop in the historical area was the train station where the weathered boxcar and Fitz’s Caboose share the railroad tracks. The boxcar is in the foreground with the Greenwald Herkimer House in the background, enhanced by the Red Jade Crabtree, one of many flowering trees I saw on my trek. This historic house sells confectionaries and candles.

There was a man walking three beagles (or rather, they were walking him). They went past the caboose, which is next to the replica of the historic George Hand Train Station.

The beagles soon were baying, which piqued the interest of these two large dogs and they immediately stood at attention. Look how warm their owner/handler was dressed on the 9th of May!

Soon I heard them baying a second time, no doubt at this Fox squirrel that I treated to peanuts just a few minutes before – hope he got a chance to enjoy them before scrambling up the nearest tree.

Now it was time for my trek on the walking track.

I glanced at my trusty pedometer just before setting out on the asphalt perimeter path that encircles the non-historical part of the park. I knew from prior races it is 1.2 miles long and about 3,000 steps. I planned to do this walk on the track in conjunction with my steps already taken, in and around the other spots in the Park. It is not as scenic as when the 5K event is held in early June but here are some photos taken along the way.

I asked if I could take this young woman’s photo since it was Mother’s Day weekend and I smiled when I saw her hoodie emblazoned with “Dog Mom”.

Another event cancellation and not doable virtually is the Junior League World Series that has been held at Heritage Park every August the last four decades. This sign touts that event and the smaller signs document each winner since 1981.

I ended up walking 5 ½ miles altogether and that fulfilled my 5K obligation as part of those steps.

Even though it feels as though the rest of the world is shut down, a solitary walk is always enjoyable, especially with so much to see along the way.

[Images of Happy Soles Virtual Run/Walk logo and Fish & Loaves mission from Fish & Loaves website]

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Downy Delight on the Detroit River #Wordless Wednesday #It was Mother’s Day, but no ducklings, goslings or cygnets were here.

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

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