I had my ducks in a row Thursday morning when I left the house at 7:10 a.m. My destination was Heritage Park because I was going duck hunting. Oops … let me clarify that – I was going DUCKLING hunting and looking for photo ops of those tiny, feathered dumplings.
I follow the City of Taylor’s Heritage Park “Photo of the Day” on Facebook. About ten days ago, one of the regular photographers posted a photo of how high the water level was at Coan Lake, the park’s man-made lake and hubbub of activity in the historical village area. Coan Lake is a mallard magnet and there are Canada Geese there as well, but mostly ducks. You may recall my photos, not all that long ago, of mallards huddled and shivering on the ice, or paddling in the frigid water near the covered bridge that crosses Coan Lake. The photographer remarked on how many ducks and ducklings were there that day. So, I aimed to see those cute-and-fuzzy ducklings while they still were soft and downy and before they turned into teenagers.
I had method in my madness for arriving there so early (and not just because it was a work day and it is about a 12-mile round trip during rush hour for me). There is a gentleman that makes a daily trip to feed Coan Lake’s mallards in the early morning. He takes a large bag of cracked corn for them, and, just like Parker comes running to meet me when I get to Council Point Park, these ducks paddle over and/or fly down to see him as he tosses the corn onto the ground near the lake. So, I hoped to get to Heritage Park to hang out and wait for this guy and get some pictures.
When I arrived, the sun had just burst on the scene, but it was still a little shadowy at the park since the plentiful trees have leafed out. The many flowering trees made a parade of frothy pink and delicate white blossoms and these Redbud trees were just exquisite.
Oh no! The mallards were MIA!
Much to my surprise, not to mention disappointment, unbelievably, not a single mallard duck was in the water! The water had receded from the level seen in the photos a fortnight ago, but amazingly there were no waterfowl at all. Even the usual contingent of Canada Geese were at large, nor was there a single Cormorant, who always looks like a “flasher” the way he holds his wings outstretched. Needless to say, if Mr. Corn Man showed up, he’d turn on his heel and head back to his vehicle … if he showed up at all.
But, it’s such a picturesque venue, I knew I’d capture some images besides those pretty Redbud blooms, so I set off.
As many times as I visit Heritage Park, I usually come home with the usual photos of the Little Red Schoolhouse, covered bridge, gazebo, old log cabin, and the old mill.
Barn swallows were dive-bombing.
I did see barn swallows swooping and dive-bombing all around me. They were not collecting flies or grubs, but hanging around near ground level grabbing nest materials. They were pulling dried grass strands with their beak, then flying off to their destination, the rafters of the covered bridge.
So that was my next destination as well. Last year, I was able to get a few shots of the nests and young ones from the rafters of the covered bridge, but I saw no nests in the rafters and just a whole lotta swooping going on.
Dodging barn swallows was definitely not on the agenda and I may have been disappointed to have the duck families MIA, but I took it in stride and decided to get my steps in with a stroll around the village, then I planned to head to the track that encircles the park to get some serious steps in later.
It was blissfully peaceful and quiet, just a few walkers, some walking their pooches. I never carry peanuts when I visit here because I’ve never seen squirrels nor have I seen cardinals, blue jays or blackbirds, the usual peanut-scamming-and-enjoying suspects at Council Point Park.
Heritage Park Petting Farm.
I meandered over to the area in back of the petting farm. Bathed in the early morning light, the ramshackle old buildings with their gaping holes, long since patched up with old signs, and a rickety fence looked inviting for taking a few pictures.
Behind all the faded red paint and tired-looking fence was a gorgeous lilac bush. It was huge and set against the blue sky up top and the old white fence to the left, it made a beautiful picture. I knew I could not do it justice, even if I tried, but I told myself that an artist sitting here with easel and paints would enjoy trying to recreate that sight.
Hmm – just like these two Robins, I was on the fence for a few seconds …
… so, should I go closer to check out the lilacs, or was this private property? I didn’t see any “no trespassing” signs, no gates to unlatch and absolutely no sign of life anywhere, so I decided I must get a whiff of that large lilac bush. I thought of my pitiful lilac tree and bushes at home, still sans leaves, let alone blossoms.
The scent was intoxicating, like the finest potpourri. Well, I wish I could make a scratch-and-sniff sample for you to enjoy. I hurriedly snapped another photo, then scurried back onto the pathway again after a refreshing pause.
With a quack-quack here and a quack-quack there.
I returned to the path just as a pair of ducks decided to announce their presence by quacking before landing near the water. They gazed at one another and at me as if to say “well this is what you came here for, so take our photo already!” So I did. They posed, I clicked, then they plopped into Coan Lake for a quick swim.
They flew off and a seagull landed on the lookout point and I guess I took too many shots of him as he flew up to the covered bridge.
I saw a sparrow or two …
… and a Mourning Dove.
The Goose Family.
Before I finished one complete trip around the village, yonder, across Coan Lake, I saw them – the goose family which was recently featured on the “Photo of the Day” for Mother’s Day.
There they were, Mama Goose, with seven goslings toddling after her, and Papa Goose bringing up the rear. I decided my trip to this venue was not in vain, and thankfully I would not just be posting photos of the gorgeous trees and bushes that dot the grounds, the historical buildings and farm, but could include the Canada Geese and their offspring as well.
[Can there ever be too many baby animals or birds to ooh and aah over? I don’t know … you tell me, because the day before at Council Point Park I came home with a slew of images of goslings, Robin hatchlings, a young Heron and the usual pals along the perimeter path. I promise you some cute photos once I sort through them and work around this severe weather we are having tomorrow.]
The parents and their goslings were hanging around the Little Red Schoolhouse, more specifically underneath a small memorial tree. At Heritage Park, the memorial trees are done differently – the plaque is larger, more raised up off the ground and has the info about the loved one plus the species of tree beneath that.
The warm sun must’ve baked onto the memorial stone as several of the goslings sat there, sleepy-eyed or snoozing away.
Mama and Papa Goose were never far from their offspring.
I took dozens of photos, trying to get the goslings to look at me, but it was difficult as they were either on the move, grazing or napping. These were my favorites.
I didn’t get too close so not to anger the gander, however a dog got a little too close to the goslings and the gander hissed then flapped his wings and the dog quickly retreated.
It was an enjoyable morning getting my steps done and goose-stepping with the goslings. I’ll leave you with this quote:
Everything flourishes in the nourishment of our appreciation; plants, people, the Earth, moments. When we live with that appreciation, we flourish. ~ Kristi Nelson