This is part 2 of my very long walk at Lake Erie Metropark last Saturday after the riverboat cruise. What began as a very chilly morning, morphed into a warm and sunny afternoon. You might have thought the rustic and paved Park trails would have been bursting at the seams with happy hikers and bicyclists, but I suspect they were doing harvest-type activities at our local cider mills.
Though the hues on trees and bushes were subdued, it was a beautiful stroll, so tag along with me, okay?
After hopping off the E.V. Clinton around 12:15, I drove three miles to Lake Erie Metropark. I parked near the Marshlands Museum, intending to register six miles on the pedometer before I packed it in and headed home.
Cheery chrysanthemums at the Museum garden were a welcome sight when I stepped out of the car.
My first stop was to visit Luc, the resident Bald Eagle, who lives down the hill in an aeire, or outdoor enclosure. Luc is a rescued eagle from the Bay City/Saginaw, Michigan region. He is blind in his left eye and since he has a permanent injury to his right wing, he cannot fly. Luc was moved to his wooden enclosure at this Park in 2009 when he was five years old. His name is pronounced like “Luke” – the spelling of his name is French-Canadian.
I always stop and visit with Luc whenever I am at this Park. I’m sure he is lonely most days, but when schools have field trips, Luc is always part of the trip agenda. On weekends, I am not the only visitor stopping to say “hey” … this is a view of the side of Luc’s enclosure from the boathouse and several people were interacting with him.
This nearby tree was ablaze in color just outside the front of Luc’s digs.
I noticed a new sign on the railing in front of the aeire.
My photos of Luc never turn out great … all the mesh that is part of the enclosure makes it difficult to get close to Luc and he always looks a little blurry. But, every click of the shutter causes him to swivel his head around.
Not far from Luc, is the boathouse. I noticed the fresh paint job right away. It was teal colored the last time I was here, when there was so much mud from the Spring rain that I could not get to the overlook and view this area of the marsh. There are usually mallards paddling about here, but I saw none. The only activity was the bulrushes bending in the breeze.
I double-backed and trekked down the road so I could meander around the marsh area.
At the first available opening, I stepped onto the wooden overlook for a better view of the marsh.
The wooden overlook, which runs parallel to these marshy areas on either side of the road, was littered with leaves. I was surprised to see many large trees were already bare, no doubt from all the gusty winds last week, yet, the spindly saplings or bushes had retained their leaves and were adorned in subtle shades of red and yellow.
Thus, you would see the occasional bursts of color along the way …
… which prompted me to stop and take some photos of those leaves and berries.
At the end of the overlook is the boat launch area, not to be confused with the marina, which is three miles away.
This is a hoppin’ place from September through November as people flock to the boat launch area to hopefully view the raptors who pass over this venue on their annual migration. Photographers with long lenses and people with binoculars pressed to their eyes were scanning the skies for a sign of these birds of prey.
Lake Erie Metropark’s boat launch area is like a stepping stone to the official Detroit River Hawk Watch site five miles away at Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, part of an organization called Hawk Count where every day the list grows of migrating birds of prey passing overhead. The tally of raptors nationwide, and in our state, is updated online and our handwritten local list is proudly displayed in a window at the Marshland Museum. You’ll be shocked at the amount of Turkey Vultures from the most-recent total as well as the season total. (I should be as red-faced as a Turkey Vulture that I came home with no photos of them!)
I hung out for a few minutes, hoping to see at least one feathered friend, but even the seagulls were not around. My next destination was the Cherry Island Marsh Trail that goes through a wooded area along the Lake Erie shoreline and past some marshy areas as well.
The sun felt great and I unzipped my coat, finally having warmed up from that chilly air on the return trip of the cruise. Just as I opened my coat, I heard voices and a group of young runners blitzed by and greeted me with smiles and “have a good day” as they passed.
Clearly, all things considered, of the five of us, some were either underdressed or overdressed and I confess to being the latter.
Though the Park had a barren look in some places as I showed you in the last post, the still morning and the reflection on the water had me reaching for the camera.
I spent three hours walking around Lake Erie Metropark and usually I come home with a treasure trove of waterfowl photos. No mallards, herons, egrets or Canada Geese and as mentioned above, not a single raptor. Just one little ol’ critter that scrambled up a tree when he saw me. There are signs that say feeding the wildlife is forbidden, so I soon figured out his mindset … this fellow wasn’t going to waste his time socializing with me as there was nothing in it for him. 🙂