Shadow Dancing.

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It was a toss-up whether to call today’s post “Shadow Dancing” or “Parker, Patience and the Predator” (you know how I love alliteration).

My favorite furry friend, a/k/a Parker, has made a triumphant return to Council Point Park.  However, it is important to tell you that he is hanging out in the fringes of the Park these days, no doubt due to the fracas with the robin who attacked him a few weeks ago on the perimeter path.

After that, he went missing in action, perhaps even scared of his own shadow.

On our first, post-robin fracas encounter, Parker saw me rounding that last bend of Pagel Avenue, a street with a good share of twists and turns.  Oh, I saw him racing over toward me, and then he stopped short of the tips of my walking shoes.

PARKER IN SHADOW.jpg

While pulling the Ziploc bag of peanuts out of the mesh bag hooked onto my fanny pack, I bent over to greet him, asking “where’ve you been sweetie?”  He danced around at my feet, clearly happy to see me (or maybe the peanuts – I am a realist, after all).

I tossed out four peanuts near his front paws and he took two between his front teeth, then made a beeline across the street, before I even got a chance to whip the camera out of the case.  “Please watch  the cars and don’t bury those in someone’s lawn because they’ll get mad at me” I called out to him, then I continued on my journey to the Park.

The next day we went through a similar exercise, but this time he had stationed himself at the entrance of the Park.  Once again, I was fumbling with the peanuts and couldn’t access the camera, so it was a missed photo op as he scurried off again.

But last Friday morning I was a little smarter and hung the Ziploc bag off my fanny pack, so that I could use the camera and dole out peanuts with my left hand.

NEW POSITION FOR BAG.jpg

On that sultry August morning, there he was, at the parking lot entrance, just like a sentry guarding that corner, lest any other squirrels come to grab his cache of nuts.

He followed me and I shooed him away from the parking lot.  His eyes followed my every  move.  This time the camera was accessible and I was ready for him … or so I thought.  Our shadows made an interesting picture as you can see in the picture at the top of this post.

PARKER AND MESH BAG

With the camera in my right hand, I dug into the bag with my left hand, ready to drop the peanuts and get a shot of him up close, when he zipped over for a closer visit than I expected (and would have liked).  Patience was clearly not a virtue with Parker.  He gave me about two seconds, then inched closer, first with front paws on my shoe, then sitting on his haunches on my foot and putting his front paws with those sharp claws pressed onto the front of my bare leg.  I inched back a little, not wanting to make any sudden moves, and he backed off, so I raised the camera up again to catch him in another pose, but he would not be so easily deterred and started climbing up my leg again.  Obviously, there was no peanuts-for-posing bartering to be done, so I gave up and just fed him.

Once again he took a pair of peanuts “to go” while scurrying across the parking lot, over the curb …

PARKER - ONE FOR ME ONE FOR FRIEND

… and clear to the middle of the field.

PARKER LIKE A CHIPMUNK.jpg

Next thing a furry tail popped up in the air and he was busy burying his goodies.

Now, I know I am partial to Parker for his loyalty and his antics,  As squirrels go, I think he is pretty smart – savvy even.   He likely remembers the long, cold and snowy Winter of 2017-2018 and the crummy Spring, and just how many mornings that none of the walkers who regularly feed the squirrels made it down to the Park.  I remember those days as well Parker.  The walking paths were not cleared, so we depended on the sun to melt that asphalt so we can walk.  Parker is squirreling away every peanut he gets, preparing ahead, like a Boy Scout.

I’m just glad to have him back and greeting me on my morning jaunts to my favorite go-to nature spot.

It’s like old times again – once inside the Park, at least ten squirrels came running over to greet me.  I meandered along, doling out nuts and saying my “good mornings” to the other walkers and the squirrels as well.

I might be sharin’ the love with Parker and other furry friends, but not all of them unabashedly come running over for peanuts.  For example, I couldn’t coax this squirrel down from his tree because he was too busy enjoying his apple.  In the Park, a few apple trees are starting to bear fruit, tiny apples, just the right size for a pair of front paws.

UP IN A TREE.jpg

This squirrel was tucked up in this tree, happily noshing on an apple.   Look at the technique here – off comes the rosy red peel, faster than your mom could skin an apple when she was making an apple pie.

PEELING THE APPLE.jpg

Then he was chomping away at that apple – nope, he didn’t need no stinkin’ peanuts.

ENJOYING THIS APPLE

In fact, that squirrel chomping on its apple was reminiscent of an old black-and-white picture of me enjoying corn on the cob back in the day.

AAA CORN ON THE COB.jpg

As blissful and idyllic as this setting may seem, it was far from peaceful as my walk progressed.

When I finished the first loop, just as I neared the pavilion area, along came Stubby, flicking that shortened tail in the air and running toward me.  I walked to the side of the path and laid down four peanuts then started to walk away.  A woman, with a young boy by her side, was laughing as Stubby lunged for a peanut and she said “we were watching another squirrel following you back there – you didn’t see him and he finally caught up with you.”  Smiling, I told her that happens all the time.

Suddenly our conversation was interrupted by  a flash of brown and outstretched wings that appeared out of nowhere.  A predator had descended upon our peaceful Park.  The predator swooped down from the sky and was in pursuit of Stubby.  I gasped in horror.  In a split second Stubby took off as fast as his little legs could carry him.  He dived underneath one of the picnic tables in the pavilion.  Thwarted in his effort to snatch Stubby, the predator never missed a beat and turned its body around, and flapping those big wings, it went airborne, then flew to the chain-link fence, where he perched, his back toward me.

Hawk 08-08-18

The woman and I looked at each other – I said “I think it’s a hawk!”  I was going by its coloring.  I said “Thank goodness he didn’t get the squirrel; I’d have felt responsible for making that squirrel a sitting duck, but I want to take a picture of it.”

I was still a little shook up and managed to get one shot of it, albeit a little blurry, before it took off.  I walked back the way I came, looking for the predator, while wishing I could warn each and every squirrel to watch their collective backs.  Another walker saw me and he said “if you’re looking for the hawk, it flew over the Creek.”

I finished the entire first loop, for the second time, and passed by Stubby on my way out of the Park.  He was still near the pavilion, munching the rest of the peanuts I’d given him, looking none the worse for the wear.

I wish I could say the same for me.

Note:  Later I searched “hawk images” on All About Birds and found this predator – I believe it was a Cooper’s Hawk based on the black tip on its beak and the markings on its back:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Coopers_Hawk/id

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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43 Responses to Shadow Dancing.

  1. AJ says:

    Wow what an exciting park adventure! Great photos as always:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fred Bailey says:

    Linda:
    Yup, a Cooper’s Hawk, I think your nutty buddy is a bit too heavy for the bird…keep feeding him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda …………………………..all that “squirreling around” you did today paid off with some great animated pictures of “The Council Point Park” squirrels…………………………thanks for the info on that shameful hawk…………………..trying to nab either the peanuts or the squirrel or both!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Ann Marie – I was enjoying a peaceful nice walk and look what happened. The look on my face when that predator bird swooped in – I’d have felt terrible if that squirrel would have been hurt as it was me who would have made it a sitting duck. I wish I’d gotten a clearer photo of the bird, but I was scrambling around to get this one.

      Like

  4. John says:

    Wonderful picture Linda!😊 I have never seen any squirrel coming so close to any human here, it’s amazing. It must be a fantastic feeling that wild animals are coming to you in that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      He sure trusts me John unless he is hungry and just puts his fears aside. I had to step back a little when he climbed on me those two times. It was different when I had on socks and pants in the colder months, but those claws on my bare legs and he doesn’t realize how hard he was pressing down and a noise from a car or anything else might have spooked him and he’d have scratched me … I thought he might climb up to get the peanuts out of the bag!! I rigged it up so I could feed him and take pictures at the same time. 🙂 The hawk incident horrified me though … thankfully he didn’t snatch the squirrel after I just fed it and he was a sitting duck out there because of me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. clarejk2014 says:

    Glad Parker and the other squirrels had a lucky escape from the hawk!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Me too – I would have been horrified if he had been snatched up in front of me … I’m glad he was smart and ran under the picnic table. That probably made the hawk mad though … hope he does not search him out all the more because of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have squirrels in my yard and they feed under the bird feeders. We also have hawks that come through although they are usually looking for mice and chipmunks. We had a fox come through and get a squirrel for breakfast. I was really sad (as it was my sunflowers seeds that made it fat) but it’s the circle of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      It is hard to put the circle of life into perspective sometimes when it is an animal you’ve watched at your feeder and that trust you. I hope it didn’t happen in front of you Kate. I’ve been catching up on Facebook. I’d not been on there in about 10 days due to all these storms, being busy at work and being more immersed here in WordPress. I was reading the crime site for the City, and there was a long thread about all the hawks living in our City now, with people warning those with small dogs to stay with them in the yard because they’d seen even the juvenile hawks going after squirrels and rabbits. Some had their nests up on electric poles. We are not a rural city in the least.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. sharonchyy says:

    Amazing adventure really and magical photos as always 🙌👌🤝

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Uncle Tree says:

    Cute post, Linda! 🙂 Parker Gibb sure struts his stuff for peanuts.
    No instant gratification for him. Good golly! With a full belly,
    he’d be easy supper for Cooper. Long may they live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Glad you liked it Uncle Tree – I wondered if anyone would remember that song. Parker always dances around waiting for me to feed him. When I saw that shadow I had to use it for the post. I’ve seen a hawk gliding overhead for months now, but never saw one in pursuit of anything,

      I got behind on Facebook due to all our storms and being busy at work, and was just reading the crime reports for the City and there was a long thread about all the hawks taking care of the little critters like mice, rats, bunnies and squirrels, not to mention small birds. Yikes! Some people were warning others to watch their small dogs out in the yard in case the hawk grabbed them up. I had no idea they were in the residential neighborhoods too. I’m glad nothing happened in front of my eyes yesterday.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Parker cracks me up, and the corn-eater too! 🙂 Here is a link to someone i follow who just did a posting on a Cooper’s Hawk in their yard.
    https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/33297203/posts/1953020621

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Parker is a cutie and takes liberties scaling the front of my leg – yikes! I love that photo of me when I was a little nipper Tom. I used it one other time in this blog as the main photo. I was walking one day in a neighborhood and a man was harvesting corn from his backyard and putting the ears in a bushel basket. I will check that post out right now. Thank you for sending it. I just was getting caught up on some e-mail and on Facebook … I got behind as we have had many stormy evenings, and I’ve been really busy at work. Those long posts on the weekend took up a lot of time as well. But I follow a crime site on Facebook for our City. There was a long thread there about all the hawks in the City and swooping down on people’s pets. Several people said they had nests on utility poles and their young were already hunting squirrels, rabbits and small birds. I don’t live in a rural area either.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t think that hawks would pose much of a danger to peoples’ pets, but squirrels are a natural prey item of hawks and may perhaps be attacked. Far more squirrels, i think, are killed by crazy automobile drivers than by any hawks or coyotes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I was surprised so many hawks are in the ‘hood to begin with. This Park where I walk is plunked in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The hawks were not just in the neighborhood of this Park, the only one in the City that is near water and dense in places, the other parks are more playgrounds or ballparks. I sure hope I don’t go to the Park and see a savage attack on one of my little pals … it is bad enough when I see them dash out into the street and I turn my head away.

      Like

  11. that was a close one! Those Hawks are ruthless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes, and last night I caught up with some e-mails and Facebook reading … I discovered in the City’s crime site that a whole slew of people were talking about all the hawks in our city. This is in residential neighborhoods, hawks and their young hunting and nests up on electric poles. People took pictures and said they watched the younger hawks practice hunting on the small birds, a rabbit, mice and squirrels. Here I thought the hawk (or hawks, apparently there are many of them) were living in the trees at the Park and they are living in the neighborhoods. People said not to leave their small pets out alone.

      Like

      • Nature is always amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yes it is. I hope we have a long and beautiful Fall to make up for our chilly Spring and rainy Summer. It will be a good chance to get out and explore some more.

        Like

      • do you have any active salmon spawning rivers close by Linda? Where the bears gather to feast!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        They probably have them up in the Northern part of Michigan Wayne. I know my parents rented a cottage a couple of times in Alpena and we had to go to a dumping area for our trash as the black bears would ravage the containers at the cottages which were all clustered in one area. I’m not sure when the spawning would have been – our warm weather will be running out in another month or so. The carp spawning here was back in late June … the fish were jumping out of the Creek every morning. Big fish too – I heard the splashes so had to go investigate.

        Like

      • here ya go.I suggest you go up to one of these rivers during spawning season with a few photo buddies!
        http://www.gameandfishmag.com/midwest/michigan/michigan-best-rivers-for-salmon-and-steelhead/

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        That was interesting and I had no idea where the salmon were here in our state and Labor Day is peak time – interesting. My boss used to teach school with a guy who was very interested in fly fishing. He has a huge log cabin up in Manistee and I was surprised to hear he is selling it. He loves fly fishing and makes/ties his own flies … does it as a hobby and sells them at fishing expositions. It is mostly trout in the Manistee River. He has a group of fishing buddies and they go on a big trip once a year, usually to Alaska for salmon … they are all “catch-and-releaase” guys. Even my friend Ann Marie I walk with sometimes is a catch-and-release. I have to find a photo buddy to go with first. You are making me work hard here Wayne!!!

        Like

      • I taught myself.I didn’t have anyone to learn from.I went out by myself into the bush & moved among the bears during spawning season.Nothing ventured nothing gained.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Well, you are a helluva lot more adventurous than anyone else I know to begin with! Joe, the guy I mentioned with the fly fishing, went to Alaska with his buddies one year and he was fishing and turned around and a bear was fishing almost alongside him. Joe also writes a quarterly newsletter called “Trout Times” . I wish I knew what issue as he had pictures one of his buddies had of him seeing the bear. I have been stuck in the City too long.

        Like

      • once a spawn starts all the bears become calmer.So you can be around them. How do you feel after a Thanksgiving meal? They feel that way for almost 2 months! It’s how they can tolerate each other during a spawning.Normally if you put that many bears together,they’d run or fight.
        Only reach as far as you can grasp & you’ll be just fine.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so glad Parker and his pals were all safe from the hawk. Parker sounds such a sweetie

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Me too Zena and it makes me scared to go to the Park now in case I see something horrific like almost happened He is like a faithful pet and always comes running over to see me … my heart melts a little each time. 🙂

      Like

      • Oh bless him. I love hearing about the meetings of the heart that you both share.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        He is so cute – you would love him Zena. He was inside the Park today, getting closer to the actual Park every day and I meant to mention that in my post … he is all the way up to the water fountain – before he was only going to the parking lot. Now that I think of it, perhaps he is not only skittish from the robin’s attack, but may have witnessed the hawk going after another squirrel. That would have to be terrifying for an animal to witness something cruel like that as well. Animals are able to empathize. They say that when there are more than one pet in the house and one passes away, the other pet will mourn, especially if it is two animals the same, like two dogs and they were companions to each other. I believe that.

        Like

      • The Empathy that animals have are unbelievable. My mother keeps chickens and when one of her chickens passed away, 2 others stood guard around her and wouldn’t leave her side until my mother came to see to her. When one of her rabbits was ill and later died, her sister who was perfectly healthy was found dead the same morning cuddled up next to her. Animals have such pure souls and I can never understand why some people think that they are insignificant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Zena – both of those stories are amazing. I am like you and don’t know why people say things like “bird brain” to describe a bird or discount any animal’s intelligence. They have feelings, sense sadness or happiness, and grieve for their own, just as we do. How often do you hear of married couples who have been together for decades and decades and one passes away, the other one soon follows … heartbreak. We are not that many steps higher than the animal kingdom.

        Like

  13. Ellie P. says:

    Cute pix! How do you recognize Parker? They all look alike to me! Ay yi… Am I… a squirrelist? I admit I must be!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Ha ha – well … all fox squirrels DO look alike, except for Stubby as he missing half his tail. Some squirrels do have identifying characteristics like darker markings on their tail, or even around their mouth like it is outlined in black. I would say that Parker recognizes me first – he always comes running to see me and begs at my feet. When I take the car for a spin and park in the parking lot, I’ll come off the pathway at the end of my walk, go to the car, and there he is sitting next to the car. It is the sweetest thing and I wish he would not do it as I’d be upset if I ran over him or someone else did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ellie P. says:

        Wow! I would have to make a very concerted effort to see those distinguishing markings.

        Hopefully Parker is smart enough to fear the car as it starts moving!! And maybe you could honk the horn? 😬

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Good idea Ellie – not sure he understands that though. When I come off the trail and see him there, I wiggle the bag and he follows me and I take him across the parking lot to a safe place where there are no cars. I give him double peanuts to keep him busy so I can get away. But, he is pretty fast … and persistent.

        Like

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