I planned to go grocery shopping this morning, even though I wasn’t out of anything (especially since I found those peanuts). But, just like Friday morning, I dithered and dilly-dallied, trying to decide whether I wanted to waste a weekend morning going to Meijer. I figured I should buy more treats for my furry and feathered friends, and maybe myself too, since Fat Tuesday is coming up. Who knows what this week’s weather will bring? I’ve officially quit believing the weather folks, after four different sources predicted snow Saturday morning and it never materialized.
I got ready to leave and I just couldn’t do it … go grocery shopping, I mean, even though it was another gray and gloomy Winter day, I figured the car really needed a long run and I needed a diversion that was better than strolling past the canned peas. So, I went back into the house, and grabbed the camera. In the five minutes I was gone, when I went back outside, it was flurrying … hmm, well do I go or not?
I decided to just go with the flow and hope it didn’t turn into a snow squall that would slicken up the roads while I was out.
For some people, the phrase “road trip” means racking up a couple of hundred miles on their vehicle. For me … welI, I thought I’d aim high and go to four parks and that would be 35 miles of driving and about four or five miles of walking, while exploring and taking pictures for today’s blog post.
As I drove to my first stop, Lake Erie Metropark, I decided that four parks that are near bodies of water, surely deserved a blog post title of “On the Waterfront” – pretty catchy, huh?
The snow began twinkling down in earnest while I was driving. I figured it wasn’t sticking and besides … those weather folks said the snow wasn’t arriving until late this afternoon. But they got it all wrong yesterday. I am no fan of driving in the snow, but I kept driving.
Lake Erie Metropark – Brownstown, Michigan.
I arrived at Lake Erie Metropark, 16 miles from home. I thought I’d walk along the shoreline, at Cove Point, and get some photos of the waves lapping up against those big rocks, but first I stopped to see Luc, the resident eagle. I’ve written about Luc (pronounced “Luke”) before. He is about 15 years old and was discovered wounded in the Saginaw Bay, Michigan area. Because of Luc’s injuries (he is blind in his left eye and has an impaired right wing), he could not be released into the wild, so he has a permanent home here.
I’ve been to this park a half-dozen times since discovering it last 4th of July weekend. Every time I stop to say “hi” to Luc. Even though I talk to him, he has never made a peep, merely watching my every move. I suspect Luc doesn’t get many visitors in the Winter months, but he had one just as I arrived.
This beautiful bird had alighted on the railing and I was able to snap its picture before it bolted. I said “Hi Luc” and was rewarded with a large chirp. I’m not sure if he was happy to see me or it was a belated greeting for the cardinal who had just departed.
I meandered over near the boathouse around the corner from Luc’s enclosure.
The marsh water was frozen and a lone goose was wandering around on the surface. It was quite desolate and bleak looking.
I noticed that someone had gone walking on the ice in the marsh and left their calling card. They were braver than me – who knows how solid that ice was?
It began to flurry again and there was nowhere to dash under cover to take photos. I figured I had better forego the trip along the rocky shoreline and went to the boat launch area instead – who knows I might see some interesting raptors there?
Well, if you were wondering where the buoys are, they were scooped out of Lake Erie and piled onto a deck.
The only bird life at the boat launch were seagulls, and this one in particular was enjoying his high perch. He was there when I arrived and I got this photo of him, then I ran to the car for cover as I wanted the camera to stay dry.
Thanks to that sudden burst of snow, I had tucked the camera away in its pouch, in my pocket. That was bad timing because I witnessed another gull fly over and knock this guy right off his throne, er … perch. The two tussled a bit and the intruder left in a huff, and this gull was left to its woolgathering once again.
I sat in the car a few minutes, then left for my next park stop.
Elizabeth Park – Trenton, Michigan.
I drove seven miles down West Jefferson Avenue to lovely Elizabeth Park.
I wanted to walk along the boardwalk and there are two ways to do this: access it from the Detroit River side of the Park, or how I usually do it, walk along the water, over the big bridge and then along the boardwalk – that is the more scenic trip.
I stopped to watch the ducks and geese who were preening or paddling along in the icy-cold canal water.
Yup, it was icy cold – just look at the little floes drifting right by them. It made me cold just looking at this scene.
I walked along the water’s edge, then headed for the footbridge which crosses the canal near when it enters the Detroit River. Oops – the snow was not a problem, but many of the steps were icy. I didn’t feel like slipping over the railing and into the canal. They don’t salt the steps at Elizabeth Park’s historic bridges in order to preserve them – they are almost a century old. So much for that …
… so I retraced my steps, noticing the goose footprints in the snow.
I got about halfway around this park’s perimeter path and then it started to snow (again) – yup, the snow flurries were getting to be a pain, as to taking pictures, so the camera went back into the case again and I set off for my next stop.
Bishop Park – Wyandotte, Michigan.
I just stayed on West Jefferson Avenue and five miles later I arrived at Bishop Park. You may recall the last time I visited this park, three weeks ago today, I was so amazed at the frozen waves and water that were caused by the Polar Vortex. I had never seen a sight like that before. Sure, there are ice floes, but not solid ice as far as the eye could see. I captured that frozen ice here in this post:
As I drove to Bishop Park, I wondered if some of the ice had broken up and would be just large ice floes now. Unbelievably, there was no ice at all! It sure isn’t because we had a heat wave, that’s for sure. Likely the Coast Guard ice cutter came along and mowed through the ice and it broke apart. But here you see it is all gone at the boardwalk and near the pier.
Bishop Park is really prettier in the Summertime. I scanned the trees to see if I might be lucky and see another eagle like last time, but the trees were bare – not a single bird to be found.
I did notice something new in this park though – park benches with dedications on them. Two of the benches had interesting dedications on them and I smiled to myself at the first one …
… there are many people who park down near the water’s edge, and pass the time by watching the boats – large and small, as well as the seagulls who are always swooping and gliding about. The second bench was amusing as well. Now it was time to head for my last pit stop of the day – a short 2 ½-mile trip to Dingell Park to see if the eagles were in the trees or looking for their lunch by fishing from the ice floes.
John D. Dingell Park – Ecorse, Michigan.
Brrr it was cold right at this Park which is right on the Detroit River. When I was here three weeks ago, there were some small ice floes, but nothing like today. The header picture is of the ice floes in the channel between the land and Mud Island. Ice floes were everywhere, thick and irregular shaped. They floated lazily along, bumping up against one another and emitting audible cracks. I was the only one there and strolled along the boardwalk, but all the action was clearly back at the pavilion area. This small pavilion juts out over the shoreline and I had a bird’s-eye view of the mallards congregating in the water and on the ice floes hugging that frozen shoreline.
The gulls hung out together on this big ice floe:
I felt so sorry for my feathered friends on this cold day. It was 22 degrees F (-5 C) when I left the house. I watched this female mallard dipping its beak in the water, then preening its feathers, distributing the oil throughout, to keep her feathers dry once it plopped into the water again.
This drake was swimming along, watching the water, no doubt for a taste of shad, those small fish that they enjoy.
When there were none to be found, he decided to search under the ice – perhaps a fish was lurking there?
It was peaceful watching them paddling around or walking flat-footed on the ice. But, soon I was not alone as a woman came to the pavilion area holding onto a cardboard box. She tossed its contents onto an ice floe and a mad scramble ensued. I turned to her and said “you just made their day!” She laughed and said she brings them birdseed three times a week. All the mallards gathered on one large piece of ice where she had scattered the seed. There was no quacking, as they silently lapped up that seed – the only noise was me clicking off shots with the camera, like these:
Suddenly the woman turned to me and said “I’m going to my car – I’ve got something else for them” and she returned a minute later with a large box and showed me it was half full of popcorn and said “this is left over from going to the movies last night.”
The only problem was the popcorn was so light, it didn’t land where she aimed it, i.e. the same ice floe. So once again there was a flurry of activity as ducks dodged one another to grab a morsel of popcorn.
Well, the seagulls, who had stayed away up to this point, suddenly appeared and became party poopers as they tried to scare the ducks away from that prized popcorn. The gulls swooped and dived but the ducks were steadfast, laying down on the ice to cover that popcorn.
Soon the popcorn was gone and it was time to move on and go back to searching for shad. A few ducks were late to the party – see how they walked away rather dejectedly?
The sky was dark and gray and the day was rather bleak looking. I thought “hurry Spring – it is cold and a little windy out here.” But I know I share my pain with this pair of mallards … notice in the top of this picture how the female mallard rests her head against the drake. If there was a thought bubble over them, it would be her saying “next year, let’s spend the Winter somewhere warm, okay honey?”