When you can’t see the forest for the trees.

I’ve mentioned before I use Facebook to follow a handful of local parks I routinely frequent. In early March, Matt Richardson, (one of the two naturalists that regularly post info and videos about various Wayne County parks), featured Elizabeth Park, one of my favorite places to walk and take photos.

Matt’s video focused on the interior woodland forest at Elizabeth Park, touting it as a go-to spot to see deer, coyotes, raccoons, possums and Great Horned Owls. Gee Matt – you had me at deer and the owl would be the cherry on the sundae! So, I was all in and decided perhaps I could get those coveted shots of deer AND owls. Although Matt described the call of a Great Horned Owl, I hopped onto the “All About Birds” site and looked at photos of and listened to the Great Horned Owl audio snippets. I decided to take a trek in the forest the following Saturday, even though I wondered “where the heck is an upland forest located within this island park?”

So, I messaged Matt to ask that very question, adding that I walk there all the time and asking how to access the trail into the forest. Matt responded right away and said to go behind the exercise equipment. Elizabeth Park, a scenic venue known for its natural beauty with a shoreline boardwalk and a trio of vintage bridges, also has a series of various exercise equipment which look like modern sculptures. I’ve never tried any of the equipment, but I guess they figure others, like myself, are curious how to use it, as signs identify each piece and give instructions how to use and benefit from them.

So, off I went to explore the unknown which turned out to be right under my nose the entire time.

First, I did my usual tour of favorite haunts at Elizabeth Park

… like along the canal shoreline, always a great spot to snag a few duck shots.

Matt says there are 100 species of birds at Elizabeth Park. In prior posts, I have written about “Birdie Nirvana” which is a phrase I coined for a memorial tree where some kindly souls have hung bird feeders and suet holders on the tree branches and nearby shepherd hooks. Just as I have done in the past, I brought along peanuts and sunflower seeds to strew on the memorial stone as is customarily done by others when visiting the area.

Not surprisingly, within minutes squirrels swarmed around the treats – were they checking me out from the many tall oak trees?

I’ve usually been able to score a few photos of Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Jays, Nuthatches, Chickadees and/or Titmice after scattering the treats, but this time just one Jay and one Tufted Titmouse flitted over, but both seemed apprehensive about breaking bread, er … peanuts and seeds, with the squirrels. I felt badly for them as the feeders and suet holders were empty.

Since the squirrels continued to monopolize the food, (as they are fond of doing), I left and walked the rest of the perimeter loop around Elizabeth Park, then it was time to check out this one-mile, upland nature trail. I figured it should be easy to find, using Matt’s directions.

I found an area to gain access to the beginning of the forest trail.

Oh boy … was it ever muddy! I felt my shoes sinking deep into the mud – ugh. We hadn’t had rain, so I guess it was snow melt. There was no mulch or pea gravel on this trail and I skipped a few muddy patches by traipsing through some tall grass, but then thought better of that idea in the event of ticks lurking in the grass. I checked my socks and pants and just went back onto the muddy trail after I decided mud was the lesser of two evils and just soldiered on.

I wandered along the one-mile trail in a forest that was not dense in the least, so I began to think the deer sighting(s) were a fluke and the owl, raccoon and possum were just visiting for the day, maybe hoping for a photo op in exchange for a treat.

At the end of the trail, finally I found a grassy area where I scraped the soles of my shoes as best I could. Here I discovered a small farm which I assume is where the ponies, horses and petting zoo animals from the Park’s Pony Ranch are stabled at night and in the off-season.

So, I was surprised to find a forested area behind what I thought was just a fringe of trees … it seems like I couldn’t see the forest for the trees!

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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34 Responses to When you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  1. Oh, thank you for sharing Elizabeth Park. It is lovely. The squirrels are too cute. In my country, parks are scarce. You are lucky. And your user photo reminds me of the nice psychologist on the series Lucifer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, Micah (and Markus too) it is a lovely park. There is something for everyone here at this park and I never even mention the boating and fishing as I don’t fish or boat. There are so many squirrels here and if you come in the Winter to visit, they surround your car when you open the door with the cute begging antics. I looked at your blog site to see where you live – Phillipines. I guess there are more beaches than parks there then? I Googled psychologist on Lucifer … you are right. 🙂 There is a resemblance. I have the same length hair and wear glasses as well. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      Like

      • It sounds even lovelier. Is it okay to feed the squirrels? Yes, we are spoiled with nice beaches here, especially now that it is the summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Hi Micah (and Markus) – Yes it is okay to feed the the squirrels in most parks; the Metroparks forbid feeding any animals/birds so the squirrels have to fend for themselves which can be tough in a harsh Michigan Winter.

        Like

  2. Great duck shots! The squirrel eating on the bench is pricelss. 🙂 I see you found some glacial erratics and a vernal pool. I love the picture after the mud picture, the one with the tree shadows, sunlight and white clouds. So nice that you found a forest to explore as the seasons change, and hopefully it gets less muddy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Barbara! I took the glacial erratics shots for you as I never really noticed them in my various treks until I started following your blog. I wanted to see that vernal pond, but I didn’t want to slog through more mud, though there were a few places that were a tad dryer than others. I will return again – we’re slated for a very dry and hot Summer, so maybe then will be the way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra J says:

    Wonderful photos, I love the little bench for the squirrels. You still have quite a variety without entering the big forest. You might get that owl photo though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Sandra – the squirrels do look adorable on that bench, like it was made for them. 🙂 I agree with you and I’d be more inclined to watch the waterfowl from the boardwalk or down by the canal.

      Like

  4. At least you found your beloved squirrels. They are friendly and will eat most things.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful walk, Linda! Looks like you got to enjoy a little bit of everything. A waterway with ducks, hungry squirrels and even a forest trail. Hopefully a deer or two will make an appearance one day. This should make for fun explorations all year long!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked this walk Sabine – I am ever-hopeful for owls and deer and will keep pursuing them. I will return to the forest part once the weather is warmer and has dried up some of the mud. There are always other parts of this park to enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Places like your park have been sanity savers this past year! I know it won’t be too long before you spot some deer and probably flickers. Owls are usually out at night, but we hear them sometimes during the day as well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        They sure are sanity savers Sabine. An escape from the sad reality that swirls around us these days. I hear Flickers at the Park almost daily but now that I know what makes that noise I never see them. I am hopeful for owls, now flicker and ever-hopeful for deer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • They’ll probably appear right in front of you when you least expect it! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Like the big swan a few years ago … I was walking on the path and saw this swan trying to break the ice in the Creek. He had a tough time. I watched him and took pictures of him and then he climbed out of the water and began preening and taking the ice out of his feathers … he was just a few feet away, but exhausted from his trip. It was as if I wasn’t there!
        https://lindaschaubblog.net/2018/03/18/the-ice-cutter/
        It was an exciting day as just the weekend before I was chased by a Mute Swan … I was admiring him and his mate and he started snorting and climbed out of the water and came after me.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah Davis says:

    I have a co-worker that when how he is he responds, Ducky!

    This is a ducky post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Hi Sarah – glad you thought it was a ducky post. 🙂 I am originally from Canada and I heard the word “ducky” used more over there than here … I think it’s a fun word to use. I restrained myself and had five duck photos and only five squirrel photos. Usually there are more squirrel photos in my posts but those ducks were so lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ruthsoaper says:

    I’m not surprised you didn’t see any of those critters especially on your first trek there. Racoons and possum will more likely be seen at night or at least toward the evening hours. Deer have very good hearing so to spot them you may have to sit and be still for a while. On our farm the deer have gotten use to us so we can get pretty close up without them running off. It does seem like a nice shady walk through the forest at least when it dries up a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      In the YouTube video I thought the forest did not seem real dense and it wasn’t … but after that time I got lost for hours in Crosswinds Marsh last August, I wanted to be careful. You are right – I should have known that some critters would favor nighttime prowls over daytime prowls. Whenever I see deer at Lake Erie Metropark, I’m either driving and can’t stop or they are really far away. I will go back after it dries up more. We had rain three times today and I got caught in it while at the Park this morning … that was not in the forecast as we weren’t supposed to get rain until this afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ally Bean says:

    Ha! That’s pretty darned funny. I’m glad you figured it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. downriverdem1 says:

    Wow. I never heard of it. I bet it will look pretty good after the trees’ leaves have opened. Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I was surprised too Cathy and I’ve been going to Elizabeth Park for years. It’s not that far back from the perimeter path. When Matt wrote back, he said they were going to mark various trails. You are right – it will be more woodsy then and I will try it again. You should check it out next time you’re there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie says:

    What a wonderful hidden gem! I hope you keep going back to that forest, Linda. During the migration (probably in May), I bet you will see a lot of cool birds, maybe even an owl. There is a furor over a falconer removing a baby owl from a nest near us. Here is a link: https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2201995359502/young-owl-taken-from-mount-joy-nest-leads-to-anger-concern-among-locals-photographers

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I am hoping so Laurie – it will be better once the leaves fill in, then the deer and owls and other birds will return as they can disappear into the cover of the woods if they feel threatened.

      Thanks for the link to this story.
      I had not heard this before – I follow the National and Detroit Audubon Societies. What a shame that a falconer could be permitted to do this. I’m glad people took issue with this practice. Amazing how far people were coming to photograph the family.

      Like

  11. How exciting a new section to see and new animals too. Anyone that doesn’t support metro parks have never been to them. The programs and upkeep are so commendable!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Joni says:

    Love the duck shots Linda! I agree it’s not a very dense forest, hard to imagine seeing all those critters there as it doesn’t look like there’s much coverage for hiding…..it looks like a well spaced manicured forest!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Joni – they are right along the shoreline and it is easy to get nice shots of them as they travel along in their little groups. I thought it was kind of “airy” but I think it will be better when everything leafs out (probably now as all our leaves have opened up on the trees in the neighborhood). Unlike the walk at Crosswinds Marsh where I got horribly lost, it would be easier for me to find my way back to square one.

      Liked by 1 person

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