“Best get while the gettin’s good!” You know those wise words – you’ve likely heard that advice before. Well, finally – five weeks after I originally intended to get out to Lake Erie Metropark – I finally made it. The original day back in June was cool and crisp, but who knows what next weekend’s weather will bring?
So, off I went to “un-muddy” my head and gaze into the murky marshland waters. Unbelievably, I’ve not been here since Spring when there was ice over the cement pathway and snow along the Cherry Island Marsh trail.
The sun was high in the sky when I arrived and it was already 77 F (25 C) when I stepped out of the car at the Marshlands Museum. I could have used those cooler temps from just a few days ago and I knew some serious wilting would take place before too long.
I parked by these bulrushes and Black-Eyed Susans and decided this would be my first photo of the day. As I gazed at that flower you see up top, I thought its petals resembled Ol’ Sol’s rays.
Just as I focused on the flowers, as if on cue, a beautiful butterfly alighted on a twig right in front of me. I believe it is a Viceroy butterfly which greatly resembles a Monarch butterfly.
While taking that picture, something blue flitted past my eyes – it was a dragonfly and it perched daintily on a feathery Phragmites plant. The slight breeze kept making this tall reed wave gently to and fro and the dragonfly, which I have identified as a “Blue Dasher”, was holding on for dear life. (Either that or he was practicing yoga and doing sun salutations?)
Well, I was fascinated with the up-close visit with this lovely creature and I lingered on, snapping more pictures (lucky it was digital images and not film, because my entertainment allowance would be shot for the next month). Of course all the images looked alike when I got home, so I had to winnow them down to these few.
I finally moved on from my filmy little friend, albeit reluctantly, and I swear that critter followed me, because when I stopped at the flower garden in front of the museum, there he/she was again, asking to have another photo taken, so I was happy to oblige.
Today I heard about the grasshoppers that have descended on Las Vegas this week. I have to admit that I was at Lake Erie Metropark many times in the Summer of 2018 and never saw a single dragonfly and, as I walked through the marshy areas today, these Blue Dashers were everywhere.
Along the way …
Next I went to see Luc, the resident eagle. I chatted it up with him a bit and was glad to see his breakfast of white rabbit on a tree stump had not yet arrived.
I then decided to walk the one-mile Cherry Island Marsh Trail, and to reach it I had to wend my way down to the boat launch area to begin that hike.
For months, I’ve been hearing about all the lakeshore flooding at the Lake Erie shoreline, so I had no real expectations of hiking that trail as it runs parallel to the shoreline, and it likely was underwater. However, I took the red vinyl boots along to christen them on the hiking trail, or at Cove Point, figuring I was no quitter. I’d also heard that the algae bloom was supposed to be very bad in this venue.
Well, let me tell you that those news stories were spot on.
The lagoon areas were saturated with algae bloom. It encompassed large portions of the marsh. I didn’t even see any ducks swimming in the areas where all the water and reeds were – who could blame them, as that green crud looked thick as mud?
What areas of the lagoons were not covered in green algae, were thick with invasive miniature water lilies called frog-bit.
Last year, there were tiny frogs sitting on the frog-bit water lilies and they blended right in. There were no frogs today, just a croc.
Yes, you read that correctly!
I did see a croc – why wouldn’t I? After all, recently in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon, a five-foot alligator was enjoying the peace and solitude the lagoon provided him, and even had his own Twitter account (https://twitter.com/humboldtgator) with 2,700 plus followers. Unfortunately he was captured and now lives in Florida at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.
Well, okay … I’ll confess that it was not a real croc, but a single croc of a pair of Crocs™ footwear.
Yes, I might have already been out in the sun way too long to have taken these pictures and shared them here.
I was lucky to spot a Great Blue Heron taking in the sights in one of the lagoons.
Then I was alarmed to see just how many red leaves are already on the trees …
… and a substantial amount of leaves were on the wooden overlook across the dike.
Whew – it was getting warm and I finally made it down to the marina.
On the waterfront.
Down by the boat launch area is where you begin the Cherry Island Marsh Trail … er, where you used to begin it, when it was not all muddy. A glance at the entrance of the trail, with its orange cones stationed at the beginning, was all I needed to know. Should I venture anyway? Along came a man and woman with their Golden Retriever and they decided to sidestep the puddles and walk through all that mud … no worries for them, but I planted myself there to see how quickly they returned … about two minutes and they were back.
It had been a significant, not to mention steamy, trek to get to the boat launch area, so I decided to hang out there in the shade for a bit. I came upon a gaggle of Canada Geese who were grazing near the seawall. They took one look at me and their radar went up – they all pointed in the same direction … toward the water.It had been a significant, not to mention steamy, trek to get to the boat launch area, so I decided to hang out there in the shade for a bit.
One-by-one they plopped into chilly Lake Erie, a mass exodus from little old me. “Oh guys – I know you are missing your flight feathers, but really – I am not a predator at all, I merely want your photo” That didn’t matter to them. And the last hangers-on were reluctant to take that plunge into Lake Erie, where the algae is not as plentiful, but it’s still a little funky looking. They stood there contemplating whether to stay or go. You can see I must have really terrorized them, because their reluctance and nasty looks at me says it all.
Usually there are lots of seagulls for photo ops, but there was only one juvenile seagull. I inched closer to him, admiring his spots and black tail and while speaking softly to him, I got this picture, then he flew off in a huff, squawking his disgust with me being the reason for his hasty departure.
I wandered around the boat launch area and decided my trip was knot for naught.
I then made the long trek back to the car to drive to Cove Point.
I had been looking forward to seeing the lovely water lotus beds and I believed my trip had coordinated perfectly with their peak blooming time (mid-July through August), so I was quite surprised to find out there were no blooms at all. You can read about the lovely lotuses here in last year’s post if you’d like, just in case I don’t make it back again this Summer.
I struggled to get the six miles in as the day wore on and it was 81 when I stepped back into the car. But I got ‘er done and will write about the rest of my day in a subsequent post.