They’re back and they’re bringing a bit of normalcy in this topsy-turvy 2020 world.
It’s been awhile since I wrote about any waterfowl at Council Point Park. On May 1st I had a nature extravaganza with Harry the Heron, some Canada geese and their goslings and a Mallard or two splashing away in the Ecorse Creek. Then, the very same day, Council Point Park was abruptly shut down by the Mayor due to social distancing concerns. A police officer used his vehicle to block the entrance/exit of the Park just as I concluded my walk that day.
When my favorite nature nook re-opened June 2nd, what few walkers returned found the Park to be silent, without the contingent of cantankerous geese ruling the perimeter path with their histrionics over walkers who didn’t sidestep them and their babies. We totally missed the goslings growing from fuzzy babies into teenagers. The Mallards were not noisily quacking and splashing about in the Ecorse Creek and the resident Great Blue Heron evidently found another fishing hole to frequent.
The geese and ducks didn’t leave because the Park visitors were gone; they were undergoing their annual molt and had to find a new venue where they were safe from land predators while they lost their flight feathers and the new feathers grew back enabling them to fly once again.
The exception to this lack of waterfowl at the Park was Mama Mallard and her queue of mini-me ducklings which just made my day and I wrote a post featuring those cutie pies. But even that was a one-time event, as she hustled away to a safer venue while awaiting her plumage to similarly be renewed.
As I wended my way to Council Point Park the other day, I heard honking overhead and saw a flock of about a dozen Canada Geese preparing to land in the soccer field at the Park. I never cease to be amazed at that perfect, or near-perfect, V-formation and how, after one signal caller makes a suggestion to land, they all converge neatly upon the water, or onto the grass, in record time. At this venue I’m more apt to see Mallards in the water, rather than flying the friendly skies, so it is good to glance over and see them doing their morning ritual of dabbling and preening once again.
So, where did our fine-feathered waterfowl go anyway?
It’s anyone’s guess where our Park Canada Geese and Mallards go for their Summer vacation from Council Point Park, but I will tell you that on a couple of occasions, at larger nearby parks, I took photos of these birds during their molting phase – they very well might be transplants from our Park as they were seeking a safe haven while they cannot fly. Yes, those waterfowl were looking a wee bit frowsy with their missing plumage (which would be akin to you or me on a bad hair day).
A contingent of Canada Geese gathered at the canal at Elizabeth Park.
The canal at this historic park flooded its banks last year and the water still has not receded to its prior level. I even had a blog post showing photos of seagulls appearing to walk on water … they were actually standing on the former sidewalk where the water was flooded up to their knees.
Here are some Canada Geese at another part of the canal. Amazingly the shoreline is actually a grassy area where canal water has encroached big time. Notice the contingent of geese, all picking at their feathers to pull them out – feathers littered the water and grass.
I have no doubt these geese were feeling pretty miserable. If they could talk, I’m sure the conversations would go like this:
Heritage Park Mallards mix and mingle around Coan Lake.
You’ve seen the Mallard males’ mottled plumage when they begin to molt … their feathers will be brown and drab, like that of their mates, then eventually the brilliant colors that we identify with the drakes (males) will return.
Here are a few Mallard photos I got while at Heritage Park recently and their thoughts:
Anyway, it’s good to see OUR waterfowl back. The turtles have been boring this Summer, slinking into the Creek off the cement precipice, or slipping off the log one by one into the water, instead of staying put and continuing to sunbathe. The walkers aren’t out to make turtle soup out of them, so go figure. The Cardinals are still MIA and the squirrels might be foraging on natural treats as they don’t beg as much as usual. Parker is the exception, but even he has not been showing up as frequently. The geese provide some entertainment at Council Point Park, even if it means sidestepping them and their droppings. But that’s okay … the geese belong here at the Park, because you needn’t ponder long and hard to know that this nature nook belongs to them just as much as us.