Ol’ Eagle Eyes.

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Yesterday I wrote about Lake Erie Metropark with all its amenities, many that I’ve yet to discover.  There are still nature trails to be walked.  There will be return trips as Autumn approaches, to view the colors, and, if I’m lucky, perhaps even a deer, an owl or some migrating birds.

I thought I’d expand my horizons a little as to Lake Erie, so I booked myself on a two-hour river boat cruise entitled “Eagle’s Eye Nature Cruise” and its advertisement read as follows:  “Take a naturalist’s tour of the lower Detroit River to discover the rich variety of plant and animal life living here in this area, now a part of the International Wildlife Refuge. The river is host to a wide variety of habitats, from submerged plant beds and shoals to coastal marshes. And yes, we know where the Bald Eagle nests are!”

That sounded fun and interesting to me.  I saw my first bald eagle back in the tail end of January, when I went down to the Detroit River on a cold Winter day to watch the eagles who live on uninhabited Mud Island.  The eagles live there year around, and, in the Winter they are more visible in the bare trees, especially if you watch them swooping down from the treetops to catch fish in the Detroit River.  At that time, there were ice floes galore and several eagles were perched right on the ice floes.  I stood in a pavilion with others, mostly nature-lovers like myself, but several photographers lined up, cameras on tripods, their long lenses trained on the tree and those elusive eagles.  My camera only captured a brown dot on an ice floe so the photo was not impressive.  I would, however, return a few weeks later, on an equally bitter cold day, with my binoculars in tow.  Aah – a much better view of these regal birds!

A fellow blogger, after reading my post, suggested I check out Tofino Photography if I really wanted to see impressive eagle images: https://tofinophotography.wordpress.com and all I can say is wow!  Wayne’s scenic sunsets, wildlife shots, and, especially his up-close eagle photos are just amazing.

So, I wondered if I could see what Wayne sees right here in Southeast Michigan?

Yesterday’s impromptu trip to Lake Erie Metropark was also to scope out the river boat and take a few photos of the marina before this trip.  I originally intended to do those photos today, but when the weather forecast called for 94 degrees F with a “real feel” of 100 degrees F (34C/37C) this afternoon, I decided to forego that little jaunt before the trip.  Not only was it hot, but we had high humidity and haze as well.  Ugh!

I did stroll around the marina yesterday and checked out the pleasure boats and many sailboats.

Sailboats

After strolling around the marina, I chatted it up with a couple from Chelsea, Michigan, who were bemoaning a windless morning, but they were not going to let that stop their time on the water, opting to kayak instead of taking out their sailboat.  They told me they often saw the “E/V Clinton” set out from the marina on its many Summer Discovery cruises.

I saw the “E/V Clinton” moored in the corner, so I took a photo of it from the dock:

Clinton whole pic

Then, since no one was around, I went up the gangplank and peered into the boat and got a close-up photo of the boat.

Clinton close up

Later, while walking along the shoreline, I saw the “E/V Clinton” bobbing around in the water nearby.  I took a picture of it and checked out its destination when I got online later … it was on a four-hour cruise called “The Big River Meander” which explored the Lower Detroit River.

Clinton on the water

It’s funny, how your perspective about climbing on a boat changes as you get older.  When I was in my late twenties/early thirties I enjoyed traveling.  I did it alone as my friends had other interests.  I hooked up with a tour group or took a cruise.  I was on cruises to the Bahamas,  Greek Islands and a two-week Panama Canal cruise.  Also there was an overnight ferry trip that crossed the Baltic sea from Finland to Russia.  Many times the cruise ships could not dock at small islands so we went in by tender.  Along with fellow passengers, I’d climb into a small boat, leaving the “mother ship” to arrive at the shoreline, where we’d disembark at our destination.

I was fearless, never giving a thought to what could happen, but maybe I should have, given the fact that I don’t now, nor have I ever known how to swim.

After booking this little river boat adventure online and getting my confirmation, I started to think about the trip some more, and, thoughts of the “Minnow” and the ill-fated “three-hour tour” mentioned in the theme song from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island”, kept cropping up in my mind.  I shook my head at my silly thoughts.

But, then came the tragedy of the duck boat sinking on July 19th in Branson, Missouri.

Well, that clinched it – I contacted them and asked for a refund, based on that incident where seventeen people lost their lives.  Their policy was/is no refund unless they cancel a trip.

So I put on my big girl panties and just dealt with my sudden fears and went (despite the fact the weatherman said there might be a pop-up thunderstorm today).

The weather was horribly hot as I stepped aboard the boat.  Captain Joe greeted everyone and was chivalrous as he lent a hand to help all the women board his vessel.

Here is Captain Joe.

CAPTAIN JOE

I sat in the back of the boat, a/k/a the stern, to get a bit of a breeze and be able to take pictures without the glare from the windows.  Once the “E/V Clinton” had glided out of the marina, down the channel and out into Lake Erie, the narrator, Kevin, and his assistant, Rosemarie, began the instructive portion of the cruise.

We passed a group of about 100 mallards, all with the same dull-brown plumage.  Kevin told us these ducks were moulting right now, so the drakes had lost their teal head feathers and colorful markings and had “eclipse” plumage in the interim.  At this time we were told that the eagles might not be too visible as they, too, were moulting.  That was too bad since the focus of the cruise was to see the eagles.

This river cruise is part of an educational series of cruises sponsored by Michigan State University and Sea Grant (http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/sdc/cruises/), so there was some “show-and-tell” items which were circulated to the group by Kevin and Rosemarie as we passed various points of interest.

Some of these show-and-tell items were either photographs, or real-life fish, birds or animals.  We saw some of the popular fish from Lake Erie, including a 30-inch sturgeon …

STURGEON

… and the head of a muskie with quite a set of choppers.

MUSKIE

There was another ugly predator fish but I can’t remember its name.

FISH.jpg

A few times Captain Joe poked his head out of the pilot house to say too many of us were sitting on the right side as the boat was listing to the right … yikes!

I was enjoying the cruise, the narrator’s info and the visual aids, until we passed an island where there are a lot of sea birds called terns.  Instead of a photo of a tern, a long plastic cylinder with a stuffed tern inside was passed along to the group.  A taxidermist had impaled the dead tern onto a stick and that stick could be pulled out of the cylinder to inspect the tern.  Well no, just no!  I found that a little macabre.  I shook my head “no thanks” and waved my hand to pass it along to someone else.  I did likewise when they circulated a real mink that had been mounted on a board so we could see what critter was eating all the turtle eggs at one particular venue.  I passed on touching the mink or seeing it up close.  We also saw the shell of a large painted turtle when we passed an area where many turtles gather to lay their eggs (often only to be scavenged by mischievous minks).  I passed on handling all these items, plus the fish mentioned above.

Apparently the lotuses that I was impressed with yesterday are not as gargantuan as they usually are due to our long Winter and cold Spring and an atmospheric event called a seiche.  We saw a lotus pod and also a single dried leaf from one lotus.

There was a lot of big boat traffic on Lake Erie and the winds, at around 17 mph, made it seem a little choppy to me.  Nothing to be worried about (despite my initial trepidation), but I decided not to head up to the bow, as they recommended we hang onto the railing up at the front of the boat and I could not take pictures and hang on as well.

We passed many types of boats … pontoons, large watercraft and some beautiful sailboats and many of their occupants waved as we passed.

PLEASURE BOAT

SAILBOAT

Toward the end of the boat trip, Captain Joe suddenly cut the motor and we were told we had arrived at Humbug Island, a haven for bald eagles.  Here at Eagle Point, most of the eagles have nests in the tall trees at this natural habitat which is part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

HUMBUG ISLAND

Nearby Humbug Marsh also has eagles, so we were told to grab our binoculars and watch the treetops carefully.  Since we were stopped, I moved closer to the bow to look for eagles, their nests, or maybe even eaglets.  I was hopeful, but there was only one bald eagle that flew from one tree to another and was identified by his plumage color (mostly brown) as a juvenile (approximately three years old).  Here is a map of the wildlife refuge and I think I’m going to go there on one of my weekend excursions: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/humbug%20trail%20map.pdf

While we were stopped, there was another highlight.  A camera was dropped from the back of the boat to take photos beneath the “E/V Clinton” so we could watch big screen TVs to see the underwater plant life, and, if we were lucky, a few fish might wander by.  The camera showed no fish, but plenty of seaweed and wild celery floating around down there.  This area of the Trenton Channel was the shallowest portion of Lake Erie, a mere nine to eleven feet.  We stayed “parked” here for about 15 minutes, then headed back to the marina.

As we pulled away, I took a photo of Humbug Marsh.  The twin candy-cane striped smoke stacks are often referred to as the “Trenton Stacks” and are part of the Trenton Channel Power Plant.

HUMBUG AND STACKS.jpg

The eagles might have been a no-show, but an osprey and a great blue heron glided by the boat while we were cruisin’ and there was one seagull who decided to sneak a peek inside the boat.

SEAGULL.jpg

This seagull swooped down low enough that I could get a close-up of him.  I asked if his name was Jonathan Livingston Seagull but he continued on his own journey and did not divulge this information to me.

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
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36 Responses to Ol’ Eagle Eyes.

  1. John says:

    Great post and pictures!😊 I think it’s always a special feeling to go by boat, big and small. When you’re out on the ocean and just watching water, it’s a sense of freedom as if the whole earth is in front of one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      You said it perfectly John. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The narrator told us about an event coming up in September where many hawks will migrate to Lake Erie Metropark there is a person counting hawks to keep track of how many pass through. Kevin, the narrator, also told us about an osprey that lives in the middle of the park, in a nest on top of the siren. Apparently they sound the siren for emergency preparedness, but it does not scare the osprey or its chicks. I told him about your osprey nesting on top of the pole. He said it has been there for a long time. Next time I am there I will take some photos of it … it was so hot today, I was glad to get going home. I know I am late here when you’re up in the morning! I’m behind in comments and not gone to Reader yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your cruise

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Anne – I did too. There are other themes and I may try another one next year. My friend Ann Marie and her husband have been on several of them so going to ask her which ones she enjoyed the most.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s quite a departure from your usual walks in the parks. Good for you for going ahead with the trip despite your concerns. Maybe next time you’ll get a shot of the bald eagles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Janis – yes it was different – no mileage on my feet this time. I hope to take another trip but go at a better time to see more eagles … I have some options where to go and in the Fall … less leaves on the trees too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looked like a great day out enjoyed the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Andy – I thought you would enjoy it since many of your posts are seashore and shore bird related. I didn’t know we had terns nearby – I have not seen one before, I see plenty of seagulls but that is it, and the occasional heron if I’m lucky.

      Like

  5. Fred Bailey says:

    A day well spent, quality time indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. great story Linda! Too bad you didn’t get closer to the Baldies.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AJ says:

    What an awesome trip you had, but too bad about not seeing more eagles. We watch a camera of eaglets on Tofino each year

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      It was an interesting trip for adults as well as kids AJ. In fact, they have cruises geared for kids too. I wonder if there is something like this where you live and you could have a field trip for your students, or do you think at their age they would be too young? Where do you watch your eaglets cam in Tofino? I hop on explore.org which has so many different video cameras of every kind of animal or bird and I enjoy looking at them. My neighbor used to really love hummingbirds and missed her hummers when the cooler weather arrived, so she’d spent hours on that site watching the different hummer nests and fountain there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AJ says:

        I have two friends who have hummingbird feeders so I see lots of hummingbird wars.
        A boat trip is a good idea, but I wouldn’t do it with kids as young as mine. We do have a former teacher who does class boat trips and it’s supposedly amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        AJ – I never knew there were hummingbird wars until recently. I follow a photographer whose photos I often use in my blog posts and she has some hummingbird feeders and mentioned how territorial they were. This was a few days after Anne Mehrling wrote about her hummers at the feeder that would get pushy with one another. I never knew – I thought they were sweet little birds – who knew??

        Liked by 1 person

      • AJ says:

        Oh no they are horrible to each other, but it is very entertaining to watch! You might remember my friend’s property with the horses I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is at her house and she has three feeders and this one hummingbird tries to defend them all!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That’s amazing – I never knew they were that territorial until recently. I guess there are not enough flowers to get nectar from so they have to depend on those feeders. He had high hopes didn’t he, overtaking all the feeders!

        Liked by 1 person

      • AJ says:

        Lol yup! I never would have thought they were that vicious either, but then again they’re smal

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        They could terrorize the other hummers with those lethal-looking beaks. One wayward poke and no more visiting that feeder again. Yikes!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. sharonchyy says:

    Really fun I can see. Your photos are always amazing, keep smashing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ruthsoaper says:

    Sounds like a fun trip Linda. I have been on the Huron Lady boat out of Port Huron a couple times. It does two hour tours of the Saint Clair River and Lake Huron. There is not the wildlife areas there but always a fun experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes it was Ruth and this same boat does the St. Clair River earlier in the Summer and then comes here for the Lake Erie cruises later in the Summer. Next time I go I hope it is a little cooler, but given all the rain we’ve had recently, I was happy that it didn’t rain that day. We have a rainy and stormy week and hopefully you are getting some rain to give you a break at your place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruthsoaper says:

        There are several boats that do tours up this way. The Huron Lady is out of Port Huron there is another one that I can remember the name of but is more of a party boat. I wasn’t aware that the one you were on did river tours up here as well. We have been getting good rain fall up here. Hoping for dry weather Saturday as we are having a family reunion at the farm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Hi Ruth – from the website for Summer Discovery Cruises, it looks like they start the Summer doing Lake St. Clair cruises, then the boat does the Lake Erie cruises, then back to St. Clair Metropark for one last cruise. (I think I said St. Clair “River” before and guess that is different than Lake St. Clair? I’ve never been there before.) Here is the link for the cruises they offered for 2018 so you can see for yourself: http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/sdc/category/lake-st-clair-cruises/

        I hope you have a good weather day for your family reunion – as of this morning I heard that Saturday is looking good, Sunday maybe rain/storms in the afternoon. How do you manage commandeering a family reunion with all your other work at the farm right now? You are like Wonder Woman!

        Like

      • ruthsoaper says:

        Ok Yes The Saint Clair River joins lake Saint Clair and Lake Huron so it is a different body of water.
        Most of the family reunion planning was done by my sister and aunt. We are just getting the farm looking good for it – all stuff that needs to be done anyway. All the family will bring their own chairs, drinks and a dish to pass so there shouldn’t be too much work to do. I plan to just enjoy the day visiting with family.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I didn’t realize there was a difference – good thing I found out as I would be misspeaking myself. That’s the way to do a family reunion or large party — so the cooking/work does not all fall on one person/family and you, as well as everyone can enjoy themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Ann Marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda………………………………..My O MY that was quite interesting and informative………………….I enjoyed all of your observations……………………………….about the Humbug Marsh …………………………..we just might go to see it too…………………..but I’m confused on how to enter it…………………..I’ll have to look it up

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Hi Ann Marie – I’m going to look into Humbug Marsh and will see what I can find. My former HVAC tech, Phil Baracco, now owns the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Woodhaven. He and his wife opened it last October. I saw it advertised in “The News Herald” so sent him an e-mail to congratulate him. I had promised to stop by and check out his store and meet his wife. Phil gives talks every so often at Humbug Marsh and they have an open house … there was a map associated with the event and I’ll look it up and e-mail it to you. I have to find out what other cruses that you and Steven took. I would go again, but next year as they are done end of this month, here at Lake Erie Metropark … I thnk according to the schedule, they return to the St. Clair River. It was such a hot day – whew!

      Like

  11. Boat traffic on Lake Erie is getting crazy isn’t it! Nice shot of the seagull!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes, the narrator on that cruise said it was the busiest he had seen in a long time and they do the cruises on Saturdays (and weekdays) too. Thanks Diane – I was sure that seagull was going to come into the back of the boat.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ellie P. says:

    I went on a cruise once; 4 days out of Miami. Medium-size boat. 1987. Now? I’m so nervous now I think if I went I’d wear a life jacket the whole time! You’re brave!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Ellie and I am like you because I never thought anything about drowning or having issues on board a cruise ship, but this boat had me having second thoughts, almost minutes after I booked the cruise. In the photos, you can see the life vests tucked up in the ceiling and believe me, it was the first thing I looked for! You know what? My fears were not unfounded because I was driving home about 4:30 p.m. and had the news on – two people had drowned in Lake Michigan and three others were seriously injured from high waves and big rip currents. I went on a 4-day cruise with my parents out of Miami as well. It was in 1972 and we went to the Bahama Islands. It was an Italian Ship (“Flavia” by the Costa Cruise Line) and it was very enjoyable – wonderful Italian food.

      Liked by 1 person

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