… it was six inches away from my face.
This, despite a month of being overly cautious and deciding that it probably was NOT a good idea to be fiddling with the camera anywhere near my face. The State of Michigan, tenth most populous in the nation, still ranks high as to cases and deaths from COVID-19. At least we have dropped from third to sixth place – not that the sixth place stat raises my comfort level any.
However, I sure am happy I took my camera to the Park because, as wonderful as the walk began, it ended on a sour note – but more on that later.
So, anyway … I bit the bullet.
It was those first goslings that debuted at Council Point Park this week that clinched it. Tuesday morning I was walking along the perimeter path, then there they were – swimming in a neat queue behind Mom with a proud Pop bringing up the rear – there were five goslings in all.
Though the family was hugging the Creek bank and it likely would not have made a stellar shot anyway, inwardly I was mad at myself that I hadn’t brought along the camera for that “just in case” shot. I made up my mind I would return with my camera on Friday morning. Our Wednesday and Thursday weather was abysmal, so my next shot at taking shots would be Friday, May 1st.
I wanted to be the first one at my favorite nature nook and showed up later than I would have liked, but was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to get some Spring-y shots and hopefully gosling pictures for a Mother’s Day weekend post.
Well, Council Point Park did not disappoint with all it had to offer.
I stepped onto the perimeter path and right away saw two large dark objects in the bushes – they were smaller than geese, bigger than ducks – oh wait … they were ducks. They were American Black Ducks. We see them occasionally paddling away in the Creek, but they are not regular visitors at this venue, nor at any other shoreline park that I frequent. These are the first pictures I’ve ever taken of them. I researched a little and since both ducks have greenish-color bills, not yellow, they are females.
After at least a dozen or so duck shots, I was at the fork in the path – hmm, so left or right? I started on the scenic side, along the water’s edge …
A fellow walker approached me from the opposite direction and said “you have your camera today – better get to the bent-over tree as the baby geese are there!” Well, I’d have cut through the grassy donut part of the loop, but we’d had two inches of rain in as many days, so I just lit a fire under myself to get clear across the Park in record time.
I had to pass the cement landing, this time approaching from the opposite direction. This was clearly to my advantage. Harry the Great Blue Heron was ankle deep in the water, either gazing at his reflection, or fishing for his breakfast. I think it was the latter, as I heard a splash and movement in the water, but Harry came up empty-handed, er … empty-beaked.
Harry posed nicely for me – so sneaking up from behind did not cause him to bolt and squawk as he usually does. I wished I had a treat for him as a reward for his cooperation.
Having secured a few shots of Harry the Heron, I hurried along to see the First Family of 2020. Whew – they were still there, grazing on the lush grass near the misshapen tree. I arrived just on time, as a few minutes later they headed for the water. This photo shows a few goslings but I’m going to save the rest of the photos of the parents and their little darlings for Mother’s Day weekend.
After watching the family plop into the water, I whirled around to discover a second family of parents and goslings lurking in the nearby bushes. I took some more pictures, while hoping the gander didn’t take issue with me as the family was fairly close. On top of it, my face mask was steaming up my glasses and I couldn’t see too clearly, but it was all good … I got my shots and nobody got hurt (I’m talking about me here, not them).
The squirrels gave me about three minutes to ooh and aah over the goslings, then reminded me in a not-so-subtle-way, that it was feeding time and I had been MIA the past two days. One day they will learn to take a paw and point it to their mouth (just kidding). As you can see, Parker was feeling neglected and just a little antsy for nuts and used his “please feed me – I’m starving” routine to his advantage.
I spread out lots of peanuts, hoping to lure plenty of furry and feathered pals down to the pathway and it worked. In fact … it worked too well, in that in between snapping squirrel shots, I was missing the Jays, Cardinals and Red-Winged Blackbirds swooping down. Here’s some more squirrel shots as I know you’ve been missing them. 🙂
I put down more peanuts, but the Red-Winged Blackbird only made that prior cameo appearance, however the beautiful Blue Jay and male Cardinal returned for a second helping.
I was happily taking shots here and there, hoping not to miss anything (or anyone) but a roly-poly groundhog waddled by and though I saw it briefly, unfortunately I didn’t bring that image home with me, as he scooted into a burrow just as soon as he saw the whites of my eyes.
A male Downy Woodpecker studied me, gave me the side-eye, then stayed on task tackling his tree as he looked for grubs for his morning meal. I identified his gender by the red patch at the back of his head, which color was also handy to alert me to his presence in the tree – they are not loud birds like the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers.
So, I was doing pretty well, rounding up my furry and feathered friends to make it worth my while to have taken the camera with me. I took a few landscape shots, including some pretty blossoms …
… and endless dandelions …
… when suddenly a big bunny burst onto the scene and filled up my viewfinder. It was the first bunny I’d seen since last year, so another “first” on this trek. It stopped to munch a dandelion, then did a bit of primping.
I love the sun hitting those delicate ears.
I was so engrossed in my trek and taking pictures that I finally glanced at my watch – yikes, it was really late! The morning had zipped by and I figured I’d better head home to be on time for work. I was glad I had walked to the Park because I sure did not garner many steps while there.
And now for the “down” part of my Park adventure.
From the perimeter path, I saw a police car in the parking lot, but didn’t think too much of that as they patrol there from time to time. But, by the time I walked to the entrance/exit of the Park, that police car was parked horizontally across that only entrance/exit. My interest was piqued. Your Roving Reporter approached the vehicle to ask questions. It was my first day of masking up in a bandana and I probably looked like a bank robber, but my muffled words through the red fabric asked why he was parked there and if the Park was going to be closed? Before he could respond, I added “are you closing the Park due to the Coronavirus, coyotes or crime?” To be honest, I hoped his answer was one of the latter two. I don’t know that he appreciated my alliteration, but he heard me out anyway and said he had no details. I thanked him, told him to stay safe and left.
In retrospect, I probably already knew the answer as I stewed and fretted all the way home.
Later in the day I checked our City’s Info and Crime Forum on Facebook where I found a slew of comments about Council Point Park’s sudden closure earlier in the day and many were wondering why it was done? The general consensus was that the playscapes had already been cordoned off with crime tape back in late March to discourage kids from playing there; we also have metal adult exercise equipment on the other side of the Park which was similarly cordoned off. So why was a police vehicle guarding the entrance to the Park?
Well our questions were answered when the City website advised that due to a record 251 deaths from COVID-19 in our City, all parks had been closed down immediately. We have 22 parks in the City; some are just playground equipment, some baseball diamonds only, but Council Point Park is considered the jewel of the City. I feel badly for the missed joy I will have. I find happiness at this venue, in not only the beauty but my delight in feeding the various critters as well. I sure am glad I made the effort to take my camera and had such a pleasant trek on Friday.
Hopefully my favorite nature nook will re-open before the goslings are teenagers, or worse … when they fledge at approximately 50-60 days old and leave for the rest of the Summer with their parents. The goslings will grow in leaps and bounds, so that by the time they fledge, they are 25 times larger than they were at birth. Putting it into perspective, yes, they will be a bit beefier than we will be with our “Quarantine Fifteen” poundage in the same amount of time. I will hang out in the ‘hood and still go to larger parks on the weekend, weather permitting.
[Header image from Pinterest; the rest are my own photos]