A Winter's day …

… 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.

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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20 Responses to A Winter's day …

  1. Nice to see an otter and get a picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Muskrat Love, right ;-)! I like the photos you took – it’s fun to see how the park changes in the seasons and what animals/wildlife still keep on keeping on just like you and your walks throughout the year! Congrats on 2 posts in 1 day! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes – and hard to believe I never saw one out of the water before Shelley, so could not I.D. it. He went flying by me – good thing I didn’t blink or I’d have missed him. I have a picture of Council Point Park at the same fork in the trail for each season. It’s an old photo that I made into a collage years ago, so I am going to make a new one this year. It did look pretty desolate there with all the ice and straw-like reeds and bulrushes. I really intended to do one long post but Gutenberg was giving me grief and I thought perhaps that it was too long anyway. I couldn’t edit once I saved the post and had to go back with another browser several times – grrrr. Tried to boldface and underline headings and it would only allow me to select a few characters at a time, so had to keep switching browsers. It took me an extra hour or so due to issues.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Way to persevere through all the challenges. I’m still a fan of Classic Editor for just that reason. Once and awhile I bring back a post from the past and have the exact issues you were having. Glad you figured it out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I only went to it as I anticipated getting into the Windows 10, Office 365 and new accounting system – was trying to help my brain out. Yesterday they had a new feature “manual page break” … not sure why they did that and I had multiple issues and was getting frustrated. The only real redeeming thing is the justified format and headline size, though the justified and any color enhancements don’t show up in Reader as you know. And I can’t do slideshows as you also know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll keep watching to see how you do with it. I’m still staying clear until they force it on us! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Last I read (not sure where), it was not in 2020 (as originally thought).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Laurie says:

    Wow!!! That otter is so cool. I bet you are so glad you made the trip. I saw one river otter in the Susquehanna a few years ago. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I thought of you Laurie as I wrote this post since I mentioned this sighting a good month ago and you commented that you would look forward to seeing it, likely the day I took this walk. I am surprised there were no icicles hanging off the fur as it was so bitter cold that day and he was swimming in the icy water.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca says:

    Very nice nature photos — the muskrat, of course, being my favorite. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda………………………………..I felt cold reading and looking at the wet muskrat coming up from the water…………………………..that is a cool picture to have taken of him………………………it sure looked like he was eating a fish…………………….so are muskrats herbivores?? ………………………….guess what they are omnivores!!………………………I always learn something reading your blogs

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      Hi Ann Marie – glad you enjoyed it and it was so cold that day and there was this wet muskrat climbing out of the water soaking wet. I’ve seen them at Council Point Park in the Ecorse Creek, but just their head and tail – did you see them when you walked there? I saw him grab something out of the water and thought it was a lotus leaf and when I discovered it was a muskrat I read up on them and they eat pond lilies/lotuses. I’d have thought he only ate fish! Glad to give my former teacher pal new info to learn.

      Like

  6. Joni says:

    Wow a wet muskrat is not a pretty sight……..I’ve never seen one either. I remember that Captain and Tenille song too, Muskrat Love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      I’m surprised he did not have icicles hanging off his fur as it was really cold, though not as cold as it was yesterday and today – this morning’s “real feel” of 8 degrees is really cold. Guessing you have the same temps too Joni? I remember that song too and in the area where I live, for years there was a guy who had a catering business and small restaurant called “Kola’s Catering” … he served muskrat and it was a popular place … people loved to eat muskrat. I think he closed down eventually and moved away, but not for lack of business – ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It sure looks cold where you are! That muskrat looks pretty big. I’ve never seen one in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lindasschaub says:

      It WAS very cold and I spent the majority of my day either by the water (the Detroit River and Lake Erie); I’m okay with the cold; it is this ice and snow … we had that ice last week and the week before. That concerns me more. A friend of mine fell last year and hit her head on the concrete and went to the E.R. and they diagnosed a small brain bleed and sent her home. She was dizzy though and went to get out of bed and slid onto the floor, so returned to the E.R. and they said she was okay. Three months later she was letting her dogs out in mid-February and collapsed in the snow. Her dogs (a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever) covered her body with theirs. She was wearing a robe and PJs, only letting them out the back door. Luckily it had snowed and her brother was coming over to plow her driveway so he called to say he was on the way and repeatedly got no answer – he knew Ilene would not be going out in the car for any reason, especially without him plowing the driveway. He found her – she did not have hypothermia due to the heat of the dogs’ bodies and had brain surgery that night and was in the hospital, then temporary step-down nursing care in a facility for another 8 weeks before she returned home. She is a widow and lives alone. The original fall was because she was standing on a concrete step and her Golden Retriever saw her nephew who was carrying his brand-new puppy, a Golden Retriever, and the dog was happy and raced over to see Daniel and his pup, knocking her down and she hit her head on the concrete. Scary stuff! I see the muskrats at the Park sometimes in the Summer as they are paddling around in the water. They are pretty fast swimmers but all I see is their head and their long tail. This was the first time I saw one out of the water and was surprised it was so big … also surprised, since it was such a cold day, that the water on its fur did not turn to icicles!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nature is amazing. I imagine the muskrats have oil glands that help keep their coats water-repellent. Birds have them as well. Your neighbor/friend was lucky she didn’t get hurt any worse! I don’t care for icy conditions either. Not even ice skating!

        Like

      • lindasschaub says:

        My friend is very lucky that her brother was coming to plow her driveway … she does have many nieces and nephews who often call her during the course of the day, and had it been a clear day, Ilene may have been out on errands and they would have just called back later in the day. Luckily her brother was headed there to plow her snowy driveway. You know … I never thought about the oil glands, likely that is case because it was very cold that morning and no icicles I read just this week that if you have a heated birdbath it is better for the birds to redistribute the oils to their feathers and after preening their body temps are better regulated. If I was a bird I would not choose to live in this state in the Winter – even going to Ohio would be a better choice. A fellow blogger lives in Toledo, and they often have similar conditions, but always a little warmer than us – not that far to travel to migrate for Winter and just an hour or so away.

        Like

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