I know you’ve been clamoring for a post about Council Point Park, so here it is. Truth be told, it has been a little boring there. Sigh. Yes, I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true. Since the Park opened back up following the month-long lockdown, my favorite nature nook is not the same.
The City grass cutters are behind in mowing and weed whacking at all the parks following the gargantuan task of taming overgrown grass and weeds when all 22 parks reopened on June 2nd. So, even donning my rose-colored glasses, I must say that right now the Park looks a little raggedy as well.
Do you think the peanut pals missed the human presence?
Perhaps all the feathered and furry critters got acclimated to a refuge sans humans? They likely enjoyed having the grounds to roam about freely without the need to dodge dogs (even though dog walking is discouraged via several signs that cite a City ordinance forbidding dogs on the premises). I wonder if the critters truly enjoyed that month devoid of bicyclists, joggers or stroller-pushin’ moms that usually waylay a quick trip across the walking loop for a bite of grass, a nibble of pinecone, or a quick paddle in the Creek?
But alas, even though the critters may view us humans as intruders, I am sure my feathered and furry buddies bemoaned the lack of peanuts.
There’s more. Fireworks had been going off nightly since before Memorial Day in our City. The fireworks extravaganza was just residents setting them off, not a public display and there were lots of spent fireworks and black powder from misfires in the Park’s parking lot nearly every morning, especially on the morning of the 5th of July. I feel badly as I am sure the noise terrified the critters who have their nests in the trees that line the path, just a stone’s throw from the parking lot.
Also factoring into less Park critter activity has been this horrible heat wave we have endured for nearly two weeks.
I’ve not been straying too far from home on weekends due to the intense heat, so I have spent more mornings than usual at Council Point Park. Michigan meteorologists recorded June as one of the sunniest in history and July boasts statistics of its own, as one of the hottest recorded, as a result of this continued heat wave. We had nine consecutive days of 90F (32C) or above. It was the second longest heat wave streak in history (the record was eleven in 1953). Whew! On the horizon is another streak of 90F (32C) plus days or higher.
So, I’ve collected these photos over the course of the last six weeks. Hopefully, the recent spikes of COVID-19 cases/deaths here in Michigan will not spell doom and gloom and a resulting shutdown of our City’s parks again, specifically this one, as I derive much joy in my daily jaunt there.
The bird is the word here in Michigan.
I heard a factoid recently that amazed me: there are over 450 bird species in Michigan. Clearly I am not venturing far enough from home on my nature treks, as I’m lucky to have seen 50 species of birds max since living here and these are the common backyard birds and waterfowl. That is why I said “Egad!” when I came upon that Great Egret recently.
The Cardinals remain elusive on the perimeter path and that makes me sad. Gone are those ambitious red birds scamming peanuts from the squirrels, or bopping along behind me hoping to get my attention. I was lucky to see a Jay and its young feasting on peanuts I left on the perimeter path. I watched them, capturing the image through my eyes only since the camera was tucked in its pouch as I was ready to leave and pulling it out might have startled them.
The male Red-Winged Blackbirds (like the one pictured above) are always quick to scam a peanut from the squirrels, or will hop from tree to tree to follow along my route. They are still pretty vocal, sometimes calling out as I pass by the marshy area or their favorite tree. Red-Winged Blackbirds tend to be the bullies at this venue.
The thistles are not ready for Goldfinch, nor Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies to visit – hopefully soon?!
Are my furry peanuts pals gettin’ squirrelly on me?
Even my squirrels have not been as ambitious or friendly at ground level – so, are you telling me that absence does NOT make the heart grow fonder? Well say it isn’t so! I expected them to come running over to greet me like we were long-lost friends, kind of like this.
Oh a few gave me a second glance, like Parker and Penelope …
But, for the most part, these looks they gave me during the first week or two made me wonder if they were angry at my absence on the walking loop, or they just plain forgot who I was. Take a look at this collection of perturbed furry faces.
As to this squirrelly group, unbelievably, they are already socking away peanuts. In 2019 we had an uncharacteristically chilly week in August. Suddenly, it was as if the brain gears clicked in those cute-and-furry heads and the squirrels divvied up their peanut pile, saving a few peanuts to enjoy now, yet they began digging holes and burying the rest all over the Park. I noted that unusual behavior in several blog posts that said “okay, I get that confusion when the weather has a Fallish feel but really?” Last year our meteorologists predicted a brutal Winter – it was quite the opposite, so go figure.
But here we go again. Both before and after our 4th of July weekend, as steamy and sultry as it has been, once again, the squirrels studied their pile of peanuts, then buried most of them and when that task was finished, only then would they enjoy the few peanuts they had set aside. I find that interesting. Are they rationing in case the humans who feed them daily go MIA once again, or, do they know something about the upcoming Winter that the learned climatologists and local weather folks have not yet divulged?
Here’s a couple of the peanut-hiding squirrels …
… and one who crammed two peanuts into his mouth to hurry along the nut-gathering process. 🙂
As mentioned (and whined about), we have had wicked hot weather recently. Now, one could say I am fickle as I’m no fan of Winter, but this relentless heat is not my cup of tea, and the squirrels neither judging from their lethargic looks you see here.
Bunnies always make me smile.
I enjoy seeing the bunnies in the ‘hood or the Park. The fact that I don’t have any munchable plants means not many bunnies are congregating in my backyard, but they do like nibbling the clover out front. Back in the day, the bunnies demolished my Bleeding Heart plants two years in a row, but thankfully the cute critters have yet to tackle the Twist-and-Shout Hydrangeas and the rose bushes are deemed “unmunchable” since the prickly thorns keep them at bay. The heat did not deter the bunnies from making the rounds on the Park grounds to enjoy white and purple clover. I’ll bet they are hot in their fur coats.
If the bunnies are deep into a patch of clover, they barely budge, although they are on guard for a sudden move on my part. I talk softly or click my tongue to assure them the big human looming over them means no harm. Are they scared of me? I have nothing to offer, and I’ve taken baby carrots or some leftover salad treats for them in the past, but they left it there and nibbled on grass instead, so I stopped toting it along.
I can’t resist a smile as a tiny bunny believes he/she is hiding from me, but unbeknownst to this furry creature, those pretty pink ears rising high above the grass and shot with the sun’s rays are like a beacon, giving it away.
The waterfowl are MIA.
Harry the Heron has been missing from my morning trek since May 1st, the last day I walked at the Park before it went into lockdown. Where did Harry go? Occasionally, I hear a Great Blue Heron flying down the narrow passage, shrieking in that shrill noise herons make, but he never alights on the cement landing, nor does he perch in a tree across the Creek.
I know the ducks and geese are gone due to the annual molting process wherein they lose their flight feathers and must remain on the ground until they grow back. For now, they are in a larger venue, a safe haven where they may still access the water and land for food, but can easily escape to water on foot if a land predator is nearby. The waterfowl cannot do that at Council Point Park as the Ecorse Creek won’t accommodate all of them, especially now that they have offspring. Besides, the Park sprays with a grape concentrate which the geese find distasteful and that prompts them to move along to other venues. Despite the goose poop that litters the walkway, in my opinion the geese and ducks help create the ambiance here.
Feelin’ hot, hot, hot!
I’ve seen the turtles basking in the sun on a fallen tree many mornings. They line up in a neat row by seniority, i.e. the biggest turtles at the front of the queue and the smaller, younger ones in the very back. The big log where they sunbathe is behind some bushes so I can’t get a good photo of them, but they also sit on the cement landing and that’s where I got these two photos and I wanted to say: “just askin’ … did you pack a good sunscreen for Ol’ Sol’s rays? Oops – it looks like you’re already lookin’ a little leathery.”
Here is one turtle sunbathing and its buddy freaked out when it saw me and plopped right into the water – if you look closely, you can see it in the murky water. (Fraidy cat – I wasn’t going to nab you to make turtle soup for goodness sake!)
The sparrows perch at the Pavilion hoping for handouts … they wait a long time unfortunately because if you offer up a few seeds, the squirrels glom onto them (just like at your birdfeeder at home) and the sparrows are left watching the squirrels doing what they do best (after acting cute) … scamming birdseed. This sparrow wished this water fountain was a birdbath – even if it could turn the fountain handle, it would not help much as the fountain has not been turned on for years.
The wildflowers are scarce yet.
I saw this Tiger Lily growing out in the middle of the Creek bank.
The thistles are not too tall yet and have not been visited by any Goldfinch while I’ve been on the path, but I hope to get some shots soon.
The Milkweed is similarly “gettin’ there” and a woman occasionally comes to pluck leaves for her Monarch caterpillars. It is their only source of food. They feed themselves silly on it, until they are big and fat and form a cocoon (pupa) and emerge as beautiful Monarch butterflies. That’s not happening for a little while yet.
The bees are buzzing about enjoying the nectar on these beautiful blooms.
So now you’re caught up on the doin’s at the Park, from soup to nuts …