… in a deep and dark December. This post memorializes a trek taken at Lake Erie Metropark on December 7th. I had it tacked onto my Winter whining post I just published, but decided it merited it own post … so here goes.
I began my day with a quick trip to Council Point Park to feed my furry and feathered friends as rain was predicted for the next day. The sky, though gray and gloomy, yielded no flurries, so no worries. I donned a lot of layers, since the other venues on my agenda were right along the water.
I was out and about six hours that day, between walking, taking pictures, and driving from park to park.
I visited Elizabeth Park in the afternoon to feed peanuts to hungry squirrels and birds like nuthatches, woodpeckers and blue jays. I already wrote about that delightful trek here in case you missed it, just click here.
But sandwiched between those two parks was this stop at Lake Erie Metropark, which is located at the mouth of the Huron River on Lake Erie. I stopped at Cove Point and walked along the shoreline, then drove to the other side of the park to visit Luc, the resident bald eagle. I chitchatted with him while trying not to glance down at the frozen white rat with the pink tail that was placed on the tree stump in his cage for his Saturday meal. The air was so frigid that Luc’s water bowl, just like his meal, was frozen.
I stepped away from Luc to mosey over to the boathouse and wooden overlook area (as seen from across the lagoon).
The marshes and lagoon areas that encompass much of this large park were mostly frozen. Occasionally you could see a few mallards diving for breakfast.
The drab landscape didn’t look too promising for photos to accompany my post.
But, while looking around for something to pique my interest, a flash of something dark appeared in my peripheral vision. I turned my head just in time to see a brown furry head pop out of a watery hole in the ice. Next, this critter eased his whole body out of the water.
Once onto the frozen surface, he trotted across the ice on short, stubby legs. I was ecstatic and my reaction was “wow, my first otter!” I hurried to get a couple of shots of him as he made his way across the frozen lagoon.
It was a good thing I was quick on the draw whipping out the camera, as he was gone a moment later, merely stopping to grab a bite to eat. So, what did my new friend munch on? A small fish? Nope, he stopped to nibble on a pond lily and decided to take the rest of that huge leaf to go. Lake Erie Metropark is known for its lotus beds which are the largest and most accessible beds in Michigan. These tropical-looking flowers rise high above the mammoth leaves that float in two huge lotus beds at this locale. The lotuses are all in bloom by late August, but fast forward to late Fall, and all that is left are brown seed pods and withered leaves that flutter lazily in the breeze.
That night, I peeked at my photos taken that day and chose my best “otter” picture to send to a friend, while happily crowing “my first otter – look!” I was told it was a muskat. Oops! I have seen plenty of muskrats in my daily jaunts at Council Point Park, but all I see is the back of their heads and that huge tail streaming along behind them as they cross the Ecorse Creek. Oh well – it was a furry sign of life on a very cold morning.
Next, I wended my way down to the marina. I took the wooden overlook path, noting how blah the marsh landscape had become since my last trip in October, when the leaves were just beginning to turn color.
At the boat launch area I discovered a huge buoy overwintering on the shore …
… and two boat ramps had also been pulled out of the water.
A few boaters were out, wrapped up like mummies, as they sped along in their motor boats. Surprisingly, the seagulls were absent, but a few geese came to attention as they watched me enter their domain, but quickly lost interest and paddled away.
The rest of the trek was spent wandering around observing the desolateness of this usually vibrant venue, like Phragmites bending a bit in the breeze, the frozen marshland and the bare branches of a tall tree exposing a squirrel’s nest.