My walking regimen not only benefits my health and gives me a year-end goal to strive for, but, as you know, I am a soft touch for those furry and feathered friends at Council Point Park.
When I first started walking at this venue in April of 2013, I decided it would be fun to feed the squirrels, who surely saw a friendly face (or more likely a sucker) and came bounding over to see me. Soon packages of Hampton Farms peanuts were flying off the shelf and into my grocery cart.
In the beginning, I started off with just a small Ziploc bag of peanuts for each visit. I’d divvy up that cellophane bag of peanuts into sandwich-sized Ziploc bags, then put the bags into a cookie jar, ready to grab-n-go every morning. Through the years my offerings morphed into larger Ziploc bags, then I got a following of songbirds and a Woodpecker, so I added a small Ziploc bag of black oiler sunflower seeds. Holiday photo shoots had me toting along cookies or pumpkins and even apples at harvest time. Sometimes I tuck an extra treat to share with Parker … well, just because.
The last time I shopped at Meijer, I made a beeline to the wild bird feeding supplies to buy cracked corn. The cracked corn purchase, however, was not because I was overly indulgent to my Park pals. Nope – I had method in my madness as you will see later in this post.
“Wheaties, the breakfast of champions.“
You’ve likely heard that slogan for Wheaties breakfast cereal. I always have a hearty breakfast, and, even though I’ve eaten Wheaties in the past, I am a big fan of oatmeal and have it every morning. During the course of last Winter, I noticed something new as I walked along the Park perimeter path – breakfast cereal was making a regular appearance on the trail. The squirrels and birds were lovin’ it, an indulgent sweet treat that helped break the monotony of peanuts and seeds while February’s brutally cold winds swirled about and mounds of snow piled up.
“I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!“
I dug into my zippered coat pocket to drag out the camera and get these shots of the “Kix Corn Puffs” and “Cocoa Puffs” which some kindly soul had strewn on the walking path.
I watched Puff’s head swivel between the offerings and he lapped up a few Cocoa Puffs, then planted himself in the snow to enjoy them, even glaring at me, lest I try to take them away.
A few days later, heart-healthy “Cheerios” magically appeared in the small recess of a dilapidated old tree where I usually dump peanuts when the ground is wet or snow covered.
And, hopefully my Park pals paid attention to another “drop” – a Clementine. Nothing beats some fresh OJ with your breakfast cereal … just sayin’.
Breakfast is served my little friends.
In life, all good things must come to an end (often through no fault of our own).
I believe this dilemma began the day I took the photos for my Easter post.
As you know, last Fall I knew I had to find a safe haven or two to spread treats, after Cooper’s Hawks were regularly gliding through the not-so-friendly skies over Council Point Park. They were in pursuit of prey, eyeing my furry pals and making a few unsuccessful swoops in my presence. I had always used the picnic tables under the pavilion roof to spread out treats during the Winter or inclement weather, but the tables were hauled away in early Fall, likely due to COVID and they only recently returned a couple of weeks ago.
So I resorted to spreading treats under The Safe Haven Tree, a/k/a a Weeping Mulberry with its spikey branches that nearly sweep the ground. I also doled out treats in a small alcove with a couple of tree stumps and a fallen log. These two locations not only provided a secure place for my furry and feathered friends to feast, but it also gave me some fun photo ops.
Unfortunately, I now need to have a Plan “B” due to The Interlopers.
The Interlopers – who are they?
When I’m toting cookies which will be used for a holiday post, I spread out all the goodies at stop number one, then go to the next stop, clear across Council Point Park. That way, each subsequent loop that I walk, I can monitor the action and take pictures.
However, for the Easter shoot, I did this process in reverse. That day, I stopped at the alcove first, then bopped on over to The Safe Haven Tree. I was spreading the treats under the tree when fellow walker Joann stopped to tell me to get over to the other side of the Park as “I just saw the most peaceful scene – ducks on a log and geese gathered around them and the sun was shining down – it was nice Linda. Go get some pictures!” “Wait! What? Where was this Joann?” She explained and I sighed “oh no, the geese saw the treats – but you said ducks are there too?” I left the Safe Haven Tree, then hustled clear across the Park and this is what I saw.
Well, yes – it was idyllic all right. The ducks were clearly positioned for more handouts. The cookies did not appeal to them in the least, just the seeds and peanuts. After I took these pictures, I shooed them all into the water. Yes, it was not nice of me, but I was not feeding the waterfowl – nope, not gonna happen!
A few minutes later, the squirrels, who were aghast over these shenanigans, came out to see if the coast was clear and they could gain access to THEIR treats (what was left of them).
You can read Fluff’s face like a book in these photos … “OMG – is the coast clear now Linda? Why were they eating OUR treats?”
I always keep some peanuts handy in a pocket in case some squirrels and birds slept in and come begging at my feet, so I poured my “reserve” out.
When I’m taking photos for a holiday post, I go on a weekend, so I can walk a few more loops without watching the clock and I can monitor the progress of the feasting and take more pictures. I stayed at this feeding area a little longer to ensure I didn’t have to shoo off the ducks and geese a second time.
When the waterfowl didn’t return, I continued on my walk, leaving for home about an hour later. Little did I know this scamming by the waterfowl would become a daily and annoying occurrence.
The very next day, I scoped out the little alcove area before laying down peanuts and seeds. Happily, the coast was clear of any waterfowl, so I laid down the treats, watched a few minutes, camera in hand. After a minute’s time, a few squirrels came over, eager to chomp on some peanuts.
When I laid the seeds down, I noted the new handiwork on the log, i.e. this lovestruck scribble.
I stood back a few paces and awaited the arrival of the Chickadees and other birds to feast on the sunflower seeds, hoping the encroachers were merely a fluke.
But then The Interlopers returned.
First, I saw the head of a male Mallard as he waddled up the Creek bank and joined the unsuspecting Fox squirrel who was blissfully munching a peanut.
Then, the female Mallard tentatively peeked around the corner and waddled over to join the party.
Unbelievably the Fox squirrel didn’t pay attention to either of them as they feasted companionably, with no one moving about as I was busy taking photos. I was willing to live with the ducks scamming a few sunflower seeds and nuts, but then a pair of Canada Geese emerged from the water and sneakily inched up the Creek bank and headed over to see what was for breakfast. I raised my voice uttering a few choice words and lamenting “I don’t recall sounding any dinner bell for ducks and geese!” But my words fell on deaf ears as clearly they were here to stay.
Thus, I bought cracked corn to lure the geese and ducks from eating the peanuts which has become a nearly every day occurrence at this location. So how’d that work out you ask? I’ve began making little piles of seeds, peanuts and corn to strew along the path believing it would both foil and frustrate the waterfowl and I rather enjoyed thwarting their efforts to monopolize the food. BUT … the squirrels like the corn and the geese are eating the peanuts! My efforts have been abysmal. For example, this past Saturday, a Canada Goose marched over to the pile of peanuts and began crunching and munching on them. Your Roving Reporter whipped out her camera and those shots will be a future post which I’ll entitle “The Peanut Party Pooper” – so please stay tuned.