Who is that masked man, er … raccoon? #Wordless Wednesday #My new furry friend at the Park – NOT!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

“Spring is sprung. The grass is riz. I wonder where the birdies is?” ~ Anonymous

There is more March madness than just the events that take place on the hardwood. While both our Michigan teams are gone from this annual college basketball extravaganza, a little March madness has been afoot at my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park.

Well, hopefully I piqued your interest, so I’ll tell “where the birdies is.”

I chose to use this post headline, a fun quote, often attributed to Ogden Nash or e.e. cummings, to describe the past few weeks that have been reminiscent of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “The Birds”.

There is nothing more elegant than seeing a seagull gliding through the air on a sunny Summer day. It’s a scene we equate with waves lapping gently against the shore. But about ten days ago, seagulls suddenly appeared en masse at Council Point Park … not five or ten, or even twenty seagulls, but I estimate at least 80 to 100 Ring-billed Seagulls filled the skies and grounds at this venue. It was a bit disconcerting.

Squabble: a term for seagulls who band together shrieking and wailing endlessly.

Imagine the noise from all these seagulls as they were swooping and diving, zooming over the Park, or noisily interacting with their brethren in the baseball field. Now, I am not afraid of seagulls – in fact, I find them great subjects to take photos of. (And they don’t require a treat to hold that pose either.) They tend to stay in place for a long time, that is until you close in on them and breach their personal space, then they fly off in a huff screeching all the way. I’ve taken lots of shots of seagulls with funny expressions, filling my blog with the tag “Seagull Shenanigans” … you may remember those shots through the years.

I took an inordinate amount of photos of the gulls as they hovered overhead, knowing that the phenomenon would soon end. When I walked on Friday, March 24th, the seagulls had suddenly disappeared, every last one of them and the only shrieking and screeching was from the Blue Jay who demanded peanuts once he/she saw the whites of my eyes. However, the respite from the gulls was short-lived, causing me to amend this post I had written on Saturday, when once again the gulls were going crazy at the Park on Sunday morning. Their noise drowned out the pleasant birdsong of the Robins, Chickadees and Red-winged Blackbirds, even blocking out the rat-a-tat-tat of Rex, the Red-bellied Woodpecker drilling holes in his favorite dead tree.

So, did these gulls show up because the tiny feeder fish a/k/a shad were running? I stepped down to the edge of the Ecorse Creek several times and never saw a single shad, dead or alive. In the past the seagulls have sat, like a duck or a goose, on the surface of the water to feast on these feeder fish. But that wasn’t happening and, as I studied their moves, they were not grabbing a fish when they got close to the water, but merely skimming over the surface, then returning to the air. Sunday morning a slew of shad bodies lined the Creek banks, perhaps having drifted there from our strong winds on Saturday. Next month, it will be ten years since I began walking at this venue; the seagull siege is a phenomenon I have never witnessed before. Indeed it is a bizarre mystery. Below are some of the photos I took last week.

They monopolized the parking lot.

On the first day of “Seagullpalooza” as I neared the Park, I sure was glad I parked down the street. For a moment I thought Jonathan Livingston Seagull was presiding over a gull gathering.

And beyond the parking lot, the baseball diamond was full of seagulls – were they resting? I would have needed a panoramic shot to include all the gulls in one take, so I had to take three photos, but this still wasn’t all of them. I sure hoped this was a one-time occurrence as I crossed the parking lot with hurried strides.

In the distance I saw a sky filled with seagulls.

They were swooping and diving over near the twisted tree; if you squint, you’ll see the many gulls that were close to the water …

… but there were still not as many as those that congregated at the Creek’s cement ledge over the storm drain.

I wondered if it was a “Gulls’ Day Out” event – the air was full of gulls, shrieking and screeching like teenyboppers at a boy band concert.

As I watched them, I wondered how they averted a mid-air collision. I came home with a photo card chock full of blurry birds and the few pics used in this post.

Though it would appear they were at the Creek to catch a fish, they never dove below the surface, nor did they emerge with a fish.

The geese and ducks appeared laid-back, seemingly unperturbed by the noisy commotion.

As I prepared to exit the Park I took a shadow selfie of my head and hat …

… which I hoped would remain splat-free until the seagulls moved on. I am happy to report my hat is still unscathed!

A new critter was discovered at the Park last week and you’ll get to meet him/her on Wednesday.

Posted in birds, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 58 Comments

Bewildered and bedraggled Snowdrops. Angry Robin bemoaning frozen worms.  #Wordless Wednesday  #Weary from Winter #3 years of Wordless Wednesdays for me!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, Spring | Tagged , , , , | 65 Comments

Ahh – Spring arrives today!

Are you like this young girl, fantasizing about your fantastic gardens, perusing seed catalogs and itching to dig in the dirt?

Once upon a time my backyard gardens were my pride and joy.

While the front and side gardens boasted baskets or hanging bags of colorful annuals, perennials ruled in my backyard, which was ablaze in beautiful blooms from late Spring until early Fall. My butterfly garden lured Swallowtails, Monarchs and Red Admirals. Bunnies, for the most part, were obedient, but we did battle when it came to my Bleeding Heart, which they demolished even before the string of dainty hearts began to swing merrily along the vine.

I spent a small fortune on Sluggo while slugging it out with slugs and when that product didn’t work as promised, I ordered “magic mushrooms” … no, not that kind, but soapstone shaped like mushrooms. You set these faux mushrooms around the yard, partially submerged in dirt or mulch. The mushroom “cap” was designed to be removed and the “stem” was a receptacle with a few holes near the “cap” … these soapstone mushrooms were supposedly slug magnets. If you didn’t know, slugs like yeast, so you filled the mushrooms with beer and ideally, the slugs would inch up the “stem” through the holes and fall into the beer where they drowned. I thought it was kinder than the recommended flat copper wire which would shock them as their wet and slimy bodies traveled over the metal. Yes me, the animal lover, put an asterisk to her love of critters when it came to those slimy slugs. The garden smelled like a German biergarten on hot and humid mornings … and still those little buggers lived on.

But paradise found eventually became paradise lost .…

At one time my backyard was certified by National Wildlife as I provided the necessary elements for wildlife to sustain and raise their families there, from butterfly houses, sunning rocks and puddling dishes, to bird feeders and birdbaths and yes, peanuts for the squirrels. I spent way too much time toiling in the garden even though I loved every minute of it.

Then a new neighbor moved in behind and left his dog outside 24/7/365 and we got rats. I had to have a pest control service come in and could no longer provide food or water in my backyard due to the poisonous bait. Sadly, I removed my butterfly paraphernalia as well. At least the plants and bushes could still provide shelter from the wind and cold, but the Polar Vortex in the Winter of 2013-2014 wiped out all my perennials, even the (supposedly) hardy Butterfly Bushes. Only the roses rallied back, but have never looked the same.

Today, I look around at remnants of my garden and deem it paradise lost, even more so after the fire from the downed wire last December 2nd, which burned one quarter of the back garden, leaving my lilac tree, bushes and clematis black and the mulch and grass scorched. While I always thought I would one day replace and repair Mother Nature’s damage, our increasing erratic weather gives me cause to pause and I believe any plans of making gardening a retirement pastime again will not happen.

But, that does not mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of flowers.

Last year I met with members of a local plein air painting group. I had heard about this group of artists who frequent the venues where I walk and write about. I met with them twice and was invited to join them to paint. I have not dabbled in painting, though I took sketching classes many moons ago, but I will join them when I am retired and feel confident enough in my painting abilities (hopefully in this decade). I have been following their painting schedule and when they visited the Emily Frank Gardens and Cultural Center in Trenton last June, I decided it would be a fun outing for me with the camera.

While I know a lot of flowers in a single post might be boring, I timed this post to coincide with the first day of Spring … a little boost of sorts for Readers from coast to coast and beyond who are Winter weary.

The official name of this venue is the Emily Bridge Frank Cultural Center. The farm was established in 1901 and was one of the first dairy farms in the area. Emily lived in the Victorian farmhouse from the time she was seven until her passing in 1972. She was a Detroit school teacher and antique collector, but her first love was her orchards and flowers.

Here is a photo of that farmhouse which is a/k/a the Trenton Cultural Center.

How about if I give you an abbreviated tour?

A huge red barn with one whimsical wall represents the Children’s Garden and the Farmhouse is where events are held with the beautiful gardens as a backdrop.

I first visited on June 18th and met with the “Garden Angels” i.e. the volunteers that tend to the massive flower gardens and veggie gardens behind the barn which are donated to a local food bank. In chattin’ it up that day, it was suggested I return in about six weeks when the flower gardens were at peak, so this was why I was here on July 31st. I have already done one post about the sunflower garden and a mischievous goldfinch who tried to evade me that day. You can click here if you’d like to read that post.

I did a Wordless Wednesday post about a sparrow and its whimsical home at the Children’s Garden after my June 18th visit. Here is that post.

So much beauty in one place … it was eye candy for flower lovers.

I winnowed down some 200 images from this July 31st visit when I sorted through my photos back in January. These were my favorites. This country-inspired arrangement is near the big red barn.

Paver bricks cut through the middle of the largest garden area …

These are some of the many flowers in the Gardens, nestled in between some fabulous yard art.

And, if ponds are your “thing” …

I will likely visit Emily Frank Gardens again, but my post will be a shorter recap – perhaps I’ll plan a September stop to see the sunflowers.

Posted in Flowers, nature | Tagged , , | 60 Comments

Why a Duck? Why not a Seagull? #Wordless Wednesday #Marx (Bros.) Madness!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, birds, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments

Humbug Marsh was hummin’, not humdrum on this trek.

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.

Posted in nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , | 70 Comments

“Hey Linda: are ya gonna tell on me?” #Wordless Wednesday #Munch a bunch!

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 53 Comments

Some Summer beauty in this wacky and wicked Winter.

It is the first long post of the new month, so I’m sharing my March calendar page; the venue is Sweden.

This calendar page, with its profound statement by naturalist John Muir, would have been perfect for a woodsy trek, but my sole purpose for visiting Lake Erie Metropark on Sunday, July 31, 2022 was to check out the progress of the American Water Lotuses. It had already been a hot and humid Summer and, as luck would have it, the Lotuses were blooming earlier than usual.

There are two American Lotus beds at this park and they encompass two acres and five acres respectively. They are considered “protected plants” thus people are forbidden to pick the delicate blooms; even plucking one elephant-ear-sized leaf, or removing spent seed pods is a no-no! So, these Lotuses are merely eye candy, (unless of course you are a certain critter who desires them in their diet – that scenario will unfold in this week’s Wordless Wednesday post).

The quote “a picture is worth a thousand words” was first uttered in 1906 by playwright Henrik Ibsen. I decided, instead of my usual 1,000-plus-words post, I’d give you pictures, a slideshow and 200 words.


Posted in Flowers, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 90 Comments

Plaids and Stripes #Wordless Wednesday

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

Posted in #Wordless Wednesday, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , | 37 Comments

When ice isn’t nice ….

Mother Nature doesn’t always play nice and we Michiganders knew we would be paying the piper for all those wonderfully warmish days thus far in Winter 2022-2023.

We got a Winter wallop with that snowstorm on January 25th, but the worst was yet to come. Southeast Michigan was not singled out when Winter Storm Olive meandered through the Midwest and beyond, wreaking havoc wherever she went. While we did not get snow measured in feet like Minnesota, last Wednesday’s ice storm was a force to be reckoned with.

The forecast of high winds and freezing rain was dire and the meteorologists were all correct. Our local energy provider forewarned that just a half-inch of ice on the electrical wires was the equivalent of a baby grand piano sitting up there. Wednesday evening I perused our City’s two residential Facebook forums and, to my dismay, saw many photos of downed or arcing electrical wires and trees on fire from those wires. I read how frantic homeowners were getting busy signals at 911 as dispatchers were slammed with fire emergencies. This brought back the horror of last December 2nd, the downed wires arcing on the chain-link fence and fire that resulted in my neighbor’s garage and stockade fence burning down and my charred garden, when fire ravaged just 25 feet from where I slept. I still feel blessed that the house and I escaped the fire and only dealt with the smoky smell and frayed nerves afterward.

Except for the fact that I remain woefully behind here on WordPress from my three-day internet outage, it was a nice reprieve from my usual eight or nine hours of online activity per day. Since I couldn’t work, I had a chance to read, finishing two books. That was a good thing, since, while still on a high from finishing “Dreamland” by Nicholas Sparks on January 2nd, I joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge and declared I would read 25 books in 2023. Gulp! Who was I kidding? Since blogging began, it has been more like a book every long weekend, so yes, the internet outage helped toward my Goodreads goal.

So, ice wasn’t nice of late, nor on this shorter-than-usual walk I took on February 4th.

Some ideas are best left bubbling around in my brain.

Winter Festivals and February are synonymous in Michigan. There were several of them being held February 3rd and 4th. I was interested in the Downtown Trenton Winterfest.

It was a bitter cold morning on Friday, the 3rd and Saturday, the 4th promised to be equally brutal.

The Winterfest would have warming tents, crafts, hot beverages and the usual fare, but what interested me was the ice sculptures which were to be placed around Downtown Trenton businesses.

I decided to get there early Saturday to bypass the actual festival. I hoped to get some nice ice sculpture pics for a blog post. I had never seen ice sculptures before so I charged up an extra camera battery to ensure I didn’t run out of juice halfway through the ice extravaganza.

Well, battery drainage was the least of my worries ….

I decided to park at Elizabeth Park and just walk to the heart of Downtown Trenton. As I had driven along Jefferson Avenue, I saw one ice sculpture in front of a dentist’s office, a cute, heart-shaped character with skinny arms and legs. In one hand was a toothbrush, which was fitting for a dentist’s office. I parked, pulled on two pairs of gloves and headed toward the vehicle bridge to cross the canal and into the Downtown shopping area. The 18 mph/29 kph wicked wind was whipping around my face and I reached up and yanked my wool hat down to meet my glasses in an effort to keep it from going airborne.

The 16F/-8C with a real feel of 3F/-16C temps froze my fingers before I’d even left the island.

You may recall the post I wrote about the Canada Geese monopolizing the Elizabeth Park canal, crossing in front of the many kayakers out for an Summer afternoon paddle. Here is a picture of the geese versus the kayakers … aah Summertime.

Fast forward to February 4th – likely the same geese (and ducks) gathering in the frigid waters.

I zoomed in on those geese and ducks in the canal.

Just going with the floe.

Despite the brutal cold, the canal was not frozen over, but many mini ice floes drifted lazily down the center of this narrow waterway. I would have liked to get over to the Boardwalk to take photos of the bigger ice floes on the Detroit River, but the big bridge was snow-covered and slippery. The bridge is almost a century old, so to preserve its vintage cement steps, salt is never applied, nor are the steps shoveled. Going the long way to reach the Detroit River Boardwalk just wouldn’t do as my fingers felt as frosty as those ice floes.

These are some shots of the big bridge …

… and the snowy landscape around it.

And here is a slideshow of some frozen feathered friends in and around the canal. I guess if your feet and body are already frozen, might as well just go with the floe and hop on one – brrr!!

Yes, twice when ice wasn’t nice.

I’ll return to Summer 2022 pics posts beginning with my March 6th post. I strayed from those Summer treks to do my Blogiversary post, then a few wintry posts. Now I’m back on track and the next post will be about the blooming American Water Lotuses and a mysterious critter who was munching down on them. Who could that be?

Posted in birds, nature, walk, walking, Winter | Tagged , , , | 80 Comments