Mother Nature has been a bit conflicted about our Southeast Michigan Winter. Did she want this season to merely meander along or should she pull out all the stops? Maybe the old gal waited until Pugsatawney Phil and Woody the Woodchuck (Michigan’s prognosticating rodent) weighed in. After a few piddling snowstorms and several bouts of freezing rain, (all which mostly melted within a few days’ time), plus a handful of days with frigid temps, we finally got a Winter wallop. Ouch!
Yes, Mother Nature stomped her foot bigtime.
Thursday night brought 4.2 inches (10.6 cm) of snow paired with brutal temps. I shoveled that heavy snow Friday morning. Then, I was faced with a dilemma Saturday morning when I heard a news interview in the 6:00 a.m. hour wherein an E.R. doc cautioned “don’t stay outside more than 10 minutes in this weather” … hmm. I pondered those words of advice while wrapping my hands around my mug of coffee to take away the chill I felt in the house. Yes, the house, with the furnace blasting and me tucked inside, away from the brutal elements.
I hopped online to verify what the National Weather Service said about that dire forecast, especially the bone-chilling temps for the Detroit Metro area – ugh.
So, do I dare take myself to the Park, a 20-minute trek each way, as well as running clear across the Park to distribute treats? I’d be outside for a good hour to get my steps in, but more importantly, my mission of feeding the critters done.
I looked out the front door after sunrise and the streets had not been salted or plowed. But, filled with bravado, I packed up the peanuts and a large Ziploc bag of black oiler sunflower seeds anyway, donned an extra layer of everything and headed out into the temps around 7F (-13C) with a real feel of -2F (-18C) and a gusty wind of 25 mph (40 kmh). I ran the car and scoped out the street – not good at ground level either. The mail carrier came along and we chatted it up a bit. He’s usually delivering the mail as I’m returning home from my daily walk and he knows where I go every morning. I said “what are the roads like – should I venture to the Park – it’s going to snow a coupla more inches tonight – what do you think?” “Don’t do it!” he cried. Then went on to say “it is dangerously cold out here; I’m in extra layers and it’s brutal – they’ll be okay.” Well that clinched it. Sunday morning wasn’t one bit better – still the Arctic chill and snow to boot.
Until the Arctic Blast subsides, I hope everyone stayed tucked in their nests and I likewise will remain in mine.
This trek was taken just before the bottom fell out.
February 4th was gorgeous, albeit cold, for a February day in Michigan. I toyed with the idea of going to Bishop Park to see if there were ice slabs or frozen-in-midair-waves, always an awesome sight to see, plus it would give the car a run before we settled into this impending snow and Arctic Blast. But, in the end, I simply drove to the Park, catered to my Park pals with some walnut pieces and extra peanuts and got some shots of them and the snow-covered ice at the Ecorse Creek.
As I indulged my little buddies, I warned them I would likely be MIA due to the snow that was arriving that afternoon and the impending Deep Freeze. I cautioned them to “eat hardy and take some back to your nests” which words likely fell on deaf ears since I’d made this suggestion several times before and the weathermen were wrong each time and I returned red-faced the next day.
Though the landscape was a bit bleak and desolate looking …
… I looked to find some beauty and got several shots of the ice as I walked the shoreline of the Ecorse Creek. I don’t often take photos of this side of the Park. The Creek is narrow here and you can see the backyards of those homes which are located in a different city – Wyandotte.
In the distance I saw Jacob, the fisherman I mentioned in a recent post. (Click here if you missed it.)
Although the weather was cold, we had one day the previous week which was warmer and some of the Creek had thawed. I was surprised to see he was out on the ice – in fact, this was the first time I’ve seen someone ice fishing, let alone evidence that people had been walking on the surface.
I would have waved but Jacob was engrossed in fishing and tossing those fish back into the chilly waters almost as quickly as he caught them.
I stopped at the second safe haven spot where I have been feeding my furry and feathered friends. I am confident they can congregate here to nosh nuts and dash behind the log into the brush to escape a sudden hawk intrusion. I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I arrive and a passel of squirrels come running over, or the Jays, Cardinals and Chickadees alight on nearby branches while I dole out the goodies.
Here are a few of my pals that I took photos of that morning. I especially like the first shot of the Chickadee and squirrel, even if you have to squint to see the Chickadee.
I talked to them, took a lot of photos and moved on to get some more ice shots.
This is the cement landing, covered in snow just like the Creek. It sure looks cold and frosty doesn’t it?
What really piqued my interest was the double set of tracks in the snow-covered ice. I did a Google image search and it came up “a migrating flock of birds” – well, yes … that is what it looked like. I thought perhaps it was the tracks of ducks, or maybe Canada Geese?
On a whim, I remembered fellow blogger Barbara giving me a Facebook site where birders would help you identify an image of a particular bird. I wondered if Facebook had a site for the I.D. of animal tracks. Bingo! “Animals Don’t Cover Their Tracks: Animal Track Identification Help Group” sounded perfect for my query, so I asked to join the group, posted this picture and got lots of responses, which ranged from Crow, Raven, Eagle, Pheasant, Grouse, Wild Turkey and Great Blue Heron. Why didn’t I think of Harry the Heron? Of course it was Harry! I sent the group a few shots of the tracks from far away to give them a perspective on the scale/size of the tracks and also a photo I had of Harry walking across the ice in the past. I told everyone the ice was solid so the Heron would likely not find a fish here anytime soon. It was fun picking everyone’s brain and the general consensus ended up as a Heron’s footprints on the snow-covered ice.
There were lots of human footprints on the snow-covered ice as well.
All too soon I glanced at my watch and it was getting late so I had to get home for work. I knew weather changes were afoot and, though I hate to wish my life away, I would have liked to zip ahead to March.