I spent most of Sunday, July 12th moseying around the Huron River. I sure was grateful for that weekend, which turned out to be a couple of days’ respite from the unrelenting heat and humidity. So I set out early to make the most of the day and in the process, I aimed to fulfill two items on my “Park Bucket List” by going to Huroc Park in Flat Rock then to visit Willow Metropark in nearby New Boston. Earlier that week I was chatting with fellow walker Arnie at Council Point Park about nearby parks and he asked if I’d been to Huroc Park or Willow Metropark. I said “they’re on my bucket list” so he gave me the scoop on what to see and do at those two venues. I did not originally intend to visit any other Metroparks, but since they are clustered together within a few miles, I thought “why not have a Parkapalooza today?”
So, with a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal under my belt I ventured out.
The Huron River and Huroc Dam.
The Huron River has been in the news a lot recently since several persons have drowned in 2020 after their boat or kayak was overturned and they were lost due to swift undercurrents and higher-than-usual water levels. No problem for me as I was just a landlubber, only intent on meandering along the various trails at or near the Huron River.
The Huron River is 130 miles long and goes through six Michigan counties and ends at Point Mouillee on Lake Erie. This is just one bend in that River’s journey.
My first stop was Huroc Park.
I paused to check out the life-sized bear and the tribute plaque just inside the park.
There were American Black Ducks and a few Mallards milling about on the banks of the River. Signs everywhere warned against feeding the waterfowl.
In the distance the Flat Rock Dam was visible – it is pictured in the header as well. It really was not very scenic from my vantage point, so I walked to the railroad tracks, (not visible in these shots), to get a better view and some photos, but I was confronted with “private property – no trespassing” signs, so I scurried away rather quickly.
But no worries, because the better dam for viewing the churning water that rushes from beneath the covered bridge, definitely was this structure known as the Huroc Dam. It is located 900 feet (270 meters) downstream from the big dam.
See how the water gushes from beneath the covered bridge?
It was a sight to see and as I stood there on the banks, a few times I had to step back as water was spraying onto the camera and me. Look at the force of the water in these photos!
And then I saw him.
… a Great Blue Heron who was fishing for his breakfast and he was comfortable with me being there, unlike the skittish Harry.
I know I’ve included far too many photos of this guy, but I watched him studying the water which was roiling about those long skinny legs. He seem unperturbed and his body swayed as he fought to keep his balance with the strong current.
Finally he moved to where he seemed more sure-footed and then the hunt for breakfast was more intense as he crouched down lower to the water, his spear-like beak not too far from its surface. Droplets danced around the end of that beak while he studied the water intensely; I swear he didn’t even blink.
He was successful, albeit a skinny fish, which he quickly sent down the hatch and he returned to “fishing mode” once again.
Well I stood there watching him fishing and caught a glimpse of a human fishing on the River as well.
But I had a long day ahead, so I tore myself away and went across the covered bridge.
The bridge crosses from the mainland onto a small, man-made island a/k/a Huroc Park, where there is a circular loop that encircles the entire park, in addition to a trail which bicyclists can use to access four local Metroparks.
I walked over this bridge …
… and along that bike trail for a mile or so, then returned back to the main loop. It was okay for walking, however, it is a popular trail for bicyclists, so it was a little jammed up walking in between them.
As mentioned, Huroc Park has been on my Park Bucket List for a while. I was going to go there this past Spring, but it was closed for a month as it was deemed unsafe for proper social distancing because of the narrow walkways along the covered bridge and wooden overlook bridges like this one. There were signs about social distancing everywhere.
And there are the usual warnings to not eat the PFAS-contaminated fish at this locale.
The heron seemed humiliated with his wet feathers, but he got past it.
On the way back to the car, I retraced my steps and my head swiveled to see if the heron was still around. Well, yes he was, but clearly he’d either made a misstep and fallen into the River or gotten splashed pretty badly. 🙂
He was wearing this rather sheepish look that seemed to say “ya, I was dumb and got really wet – it messed up my ‘do!” Of course I had to take a picture of this humiliated heron.
I don’t know if this pose was a way to streamline feather drying, but it looked pretty funny.
But he rallied back to his usual self, then went in search of another fishing spot.
He moved over to the concrete slabs of the embankment and though it was a fairly steep incline …
… he caught another little fish – yay!
He then returned to studying the water once again.
I left Huroc Park and went to the first of three Metroparks which you’ll read about in my next post, so stay tuned!