The alarm rang, its incessant beeping interrupting my sound sleep. I flipped off the covers and quickly pulled them back over me. There was a definite chill in the air, so I snuggled down to catch 40 more winks. I had a busy day planned, so I stifled a yawn and headed to the kitchen to make breakfast as I aimed to get to two parks. It was the first day of the long holiday weekend so I wanted to beat the crowds. The weatherman said it was only 58 degrees … a little chilly for Labor Day weekend!
I left the house in a hoodie and when I arrived at my first destination, Lake Erie Metropark, as I walked along the shoreline to get some shots of water lotuses, I had to admit I could have used a pair of gloves – yikes! I’ll write about that three-hour trek in a future post, but after a long walk and at least 100+ photos taken, I headed to Elizabeth Park.
It seems many others had the same idea to visit this venue.
Whenever I go to Elizabeth Park, it is usually earlier in the morning before it gets busy on the circular path that surrounds this island park. By noon, available parking spots are nil and the path is crowded with bicyclists, roller bladers, runners and walkers, not to mention many pooches enjoying a long outing with their owners. So showing up so late in the morning offered a different experience for me.
I always start with a trip around the woodsier spots of Elizabeth Park, first going to the canal area to look for geese and ducks.
Waterfowl photo ops in the canal can be counted on and these days geese are often wading in this area, which is not part of the canal, but actually is the flooded grassy banks near the canal. This area has been flooded since the Spring of 2019. Amazingly, we had almost drought-like conditions for most of this Summer, but when we had rain, it was the torrential, build-an-ark-posthaste-variety and it has kept the grassy areas soggy and spongy throughout 2020.
I always look for the Pekin and Mallard Hybrid ducks. I’ve showcased the friendly Pekins before, like when park goers Matt and his daughter Shelby were feeding M&M cookies right from their outstretched palms to an eager Pekin duck. My Pekin pal was not as interested in whether I had brought cookies, but more so about its molting miseries. It was preening and pulling out the loose feathers and the result was it looked like a pillow fight had ensued with feathers around its feet.
Moulting is tiring for our fine-feathered friends and my Pekin pal nodded off while I was watching the preening process.
The goldenrod was especially vibrant.
There are very few wildflowers in Elizabeth Park except in early Spring when Wood Anemone grows in pale pink or white clusters around the base of the trees. I stopped at the memorial tree area where all the birdfeeders and suet holders have been placed. I have termed this area “Birdie Nirvana” because in Fall through Springtime, people ensure the feeders are loaded with seed and suet and some people, like me, just stop by and toss down sunflower seeds and peanuts for the birds onto the large memorial stone. It is such a delight to see the Jays, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Woodpeckers and squirrels scrambling among themselves to snatch as many treats as possible. Those cold-season days are on the horizon, especially with the cooler weather settling in this past week. The birds were scarce that day, foraging on natural treats like berries instead.
But the squirrels were present and accounted for. The squirrels are always plentiful and in the winter, I’ve stepped out of the car door to see their anxious and expectant faces that translate to “did you bring peanuts?” Elizabeth Park is a haven for squirrel lovers, so of course I am right in my element. Some people feed them as they walk along the pathway, but you often see people just park and open the door and the squirrels come to them.
Here are a few squirrels that I doled out peanuts to – I always pack some peanuts in my pocket for the bigger parks, except Lake Erie Metropark where they forbid you to feed the critters.
It was a “Bring-your-own ——-” type of day.
Well, this was a first. I thought it was funny seeing Angel sporting her cool sunglasses a few weeks before, but check out this German Shepherd who carried his own Frisbee for a little game of catch.
And what was this? You couldn’t miss this bright-yellow hammock strung between two trees. I’ve never seen a hammock at this park (or any park) before. I guess it is allowed … it’s not like a permanent fixture. From my vantage point I saw a pair of legs hanging down from that sagging hammock and I snapped a picture.
But, as I neared the hammock, it was soon evident there were two people in this over-sized hammock, perhaps accounting for the sagging fabric. Evidently they were reading and I got a quick shot, lest they think I was some kind of voyeur.
I neared “Birdie Nirvana” and craned my neck, hoping to capture a bird nibbling on treats. There was a suet cake but my little friend was not snacking on that. Instead that sweet female Downy Woodpecker was inching up a nearby tree. I heard it grumbling “where did that grub go?”
In my peripheral vision I caught sight of something new to that area – a big birdhouse. So apparently, it was “bring-your-own-birdhouse” to Elizabeth Park as well. I stepped up to the tree for a closer look. It was definitely a new addition to this area, with a fresh cedar smell, and nothing marring the hardware or wood – should I alert the birds to this find? I’m sure it will be inhabited on a first-come basis no doubt.
After one complete turn around Elizabeth Park, it was time to walk down and stroll the boardwalk.
The boardwalk was a hoppin’ place.
There were people galore along the shoreline enjoying the sunny, but chilly day.
I rounded the corner near the vintage bridge. Note the water level on the side of the bridge in the first picture.
Out of the corner of my eye, I heard a quick shriek and saw a woman holding a fishing pole and she evidently had a wiggle on her line. In the blink of an eye, she set the fishing pole down, was unhooking a fish, then she called to her companion to take her picture. I said I was going to sneak a picture and she said “no problem” and right after the photo was taken, she bent down and let the fish go. For you non-fishermen out there, this was a largemouth bass (and yes, I had to ask).
There were other “fisherpersons” lurking along the Boardwalk.
Maybe these boaters were fishing too? There were lots of boats on the chilly water that mid-day.
As I strolled the Boardwalk, this is where I saw the roly-poly groundhog which fellow blogger Wayne quipped on my Wordless Wednesday post that I should have named “Fat Albert”…this sure was a groundhog with some girth.
All the groundhogs I’ve seen to date take off running to their burrow when they see the whites of my eyes, so imagine my surprise when it just stood there, next to its burrow, and stared at me. We weren’t even social distancing … that critter was no more than three feet away. It was too lethargic and I figured it was sick, maybe rabid? A guy pushing a youngster in a stroller was coming from the opposite direction. I called out “be careful, don’t get too close – this groundhog is not moving, he may be sick.” He smiled and replied this was the resident groundhog and he was waiting for food because everyone brings treats for him when they see him on the Boardwalk. Hmm. See what I miss by always going to this park earlier in the morning?
Beyond the boardwalk was the marina where a seagull was woolgathering. That is the Grosse Ile Free Bridge in the background. The bridge has been closed since May and won’t open until year end.
I guess the seagull was uninspired by what it saw as it began to yawn – either that or it was a screech and he/she had laryngitis.
The last encounter before heading to the car was this treasure hunter using a metal detector. I asked him if he found any treasures yet and he responded “not yet” and gave me a grin.
Finally, the sun was brighter and stronger and I could unzip my hoodie. Between here and earlier at Lake Erie Metropark, I walked seven miles altogether … onward and upward.