How to wrangle a fish.

Eight years ago today I discovered Council Point Park. In a prior post recognizing this date, I called it “serendipity” since what is amazing to me is this venue, established in 1994, is merely a mile from my home.

This 27-acre nature nook has become my go-to spot for my weekday walks and I usually make a quick stop on weekends, which time I generally reserve for walks at larger venues. I prefer going in the early morning when it is not crowded and that was my mindset even before the pandemic, plus my feathered and furry friends are out foraging (and/or looking for me hoping for breakfast handouts).

In these eight years of traversing the trails at Council Point Park, I have come across quite a few critters. Their images have been shared in countless blog posts. Long-time followers of this blog have come to know the quirky personalities and recognize the images of my favorite Park squirrels: Parker and his main squeeze Penelope, Stubby, Puff and Fluff. I would be remiss in not mentioning Harry the Heron or newcomer Rex the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I couldn’t name all the squirrels I interact with as there are too many (and let’s be honest … after a while, they all tend to look alike). Nor do I name the geese or ducks (though of late I have called them a few choice names – just sayin’).

Magnificent Mute Swans.

A little info on these beautiful birds … although male and female Mute Swans weigh about 25 and 20 pounds (11 and 9 kg) respectively, they are not Michigan’s largest waterfowl. That honor goes to the Sandhill Cranes. While Mute Swans are beautiful to admire, they are very aggressive, so don’t cross their path, especially when they are with their mate or their offspring, a/k/a cygnets. They are considered an invasive species here in Michigan.

A visit from a Mute Swan at Council Point Park is a rare treat. In eight years of visiting this venue, I’ve only seen them three times. I figure they don’t visit here much because they mostly gather at the Detroit River, near Dingell Park and Mud Island, which is just one mile away. The Ecorse River is the proper name for the Ecorse Creek. It runs parallel to the walking path at Council Point Park, but, because it is such a narrow tributary, it is generally referred to around here as The Creek. It is 18.8 miles long and meanders through a few Downriver communities, dumping out at the Detroit River. So likely, when there is a Mute Swan sighting, they have paddled here from Dingell Park as opposed to a flyover and splashdown.

The prior two times I’ve encountered Mute Swans, I documented that sighting with a blog post and photos.

In the first instance, the male Mute Swan (“Cob”) and his mate (“Pen”) were paddling around the Creek on a sunny Winter day and I was taking pictures. I was far away, but my presence evidently angered the male and a minute later, after snorting a few times, he stomped up the Creek bank and chased after me. I may laugh about it now, but it was not funny since there was snow and ice and I was walking backward to keep my eye on him, while plotting how I’d hopefully scramble onto a park bench where he could not attack me. Some quick thinking and a pocketful of peanuts thwarted an encounter. Whew! You can click here to read about it if you’d like.

My second encounter with a Mute Swan was uneventful, but left me awestruck. In my post, “The Ice Cutter” (click here) I came upon a Mute Swan struggling to paddle through the ice on the Ecorse Creek. It pushed through the thick ice with its massive feet as it sought to forge a path to shore, occasionally spearing the ice to break it apart with its powerful beak. It emerged from the water with ice clinging to its feathers and began to preen, only to return to its icy journey once again. I believe it was a Pen, or female Mute Swan, as it lacked the large black knob a/k/a a “blackberry” above the beak that is characteristic of the Cob.

But on THIS Saturday afternoon visit, I saw Mute Swans fishing.

I arrived at the Park around noon after an enjoyable morning spent walking and taking photos at Elizabeth Park. I only intended to walk the mile-long path in the first loop and feed the usual gang, when a flash of white appeared in the corner of my eye. Through the bare trees I saw a pair of Mute Swans gracefully gliding along. So, I didn’t stop to chitchat with the squirrels, but instead tossed some peanuts and seeds to the usual spots and hurried over, camera in tow.

The pair was on the move with this one bringing up the rear.

And this swan was admiring its reflection in the still water (or perhaps scoping out a fish?)

Here they were together – I paused to revel in their beauty.

Soon it was evident they were tired of the same-old vegetation and since it was the Lenten season they were going to dine on fish. I thought swans only ate plant vegetation based on seeing them umpteen times at Dingell Park, their heads and long necks below the water level and their feathery butts in the air. But they would soon prove me wrong as each of the swans caught and ate the fish rather effortlessly, despite a little wrangling going on, as seen in the header image.

The Cob was the first to snag a fish or two …

… the Pen didn’t do too badly either. She added a little drama and flair to her fishing expedition.

As for me, my catch of the day was a treasure trove of photos thanks to being at the right place at the right time.

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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71 Responses to How to wrangle a fish.

  1. peggy says:

    What a great post. Have never seen swans fishing. You had your camera clicking away at the right moments. It is wonderful to watch pairs of swans interact with each other. You are lucky to have such a great place to walk so close to home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea swans were omnivores. 🙂 Amazing pictures of the swan dining on fish. They truly are magnificent, even if they are invasive and a bit over-protective. Years ago we saw some tiny cygnets riding on their mother’s back while she was swimming. No camera back then, but such a sweet sight. Congratulations on eight years walking to and around Council Point Park! You’re so lucky to live near the water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I didn’t think they were omnivores either Barbara, but a couple of years ago at this same park, I saw a Canada goose fishing and that amazed me. There was ice on the Creek and after the goose got the fish securely in its beak, it threw it onto the ice to eat it as if eating from a plate that way. The swans did not appear to be chewing, just eating the fish whole like a heron would. A fellow blogger showed a video of a heron swallowing a fish whole. Pretty fascinating to see. On my annual “Birdie Bucket List” is “cygnets riding on their mother’s back” and I go to Dingell Park in search of that sight, but have never seen it yet. Last year, there was an older cygnet riding the waves with its parents, who were not interested in their little one who repeatedly was submerged whenever a boat went by. The time flies by on my walks here. Before starting to walk here in 2013, I walked for two years in the neighborhood.

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      • A few years ago I was lucky enough to capture a great egret catching and eating a fish, but I did know they eat fish. But a goose or a swan, wow!
        https://www.ingebrita.net/2017/07/dinnertime/
        I hope you get to see “cygnets riding on their mother’s back” one day. I’ve only seen it that once and regret not having had a camera. But the memory is still so vivid.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That was a great post Barbara – you got that Great Egret in action just before the fish went “down the hatch”. I follow a few nature sites on Twitter and there was a wonderful video of an Osprey who landed a huge fish in its talons, but the fish was so big, the Osprey struggled to get the fish out of the water. He finally got airborne, and it was cumbersome and suddenly a pelican came along and snatched the fish from his talons. I hope I get to see the cygnets on their mom’s back too. I will start going to Dingell Park every few weeks to see if I can catch a glimpse there. It is a bigger area and I’m usually lucky seeing a few swans. I check their Facebook site as people post what they see while visiting there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That must have been a sight to see, the pelican snatching the fish from the osprey! If my memory serves (and it often doesn’t serve me right these days) we probably saw those cygnets riding on their mother’s back in July. That’s a good idea to check the Facebook group for pictures — I do the same with our beach group.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        OK, I’ll check in the Summer then Barbara – thanks for the tip. There was a walker at Council Point Park. He was retired and walked daily at the Park, then went to Dingell Park, just a mile away, and would visit with all the fishermen that line up on the boardwalk. He would see the swans with their cygnets and tell me when to go down there (though I wasn’t lucky even though Mike said he saw them daily). Mike also sent me there to see a Mallard on a nest that people used to feed when they came out of a restaurant. He was a great guy and passed away last February, so I’m on my own for finding cygnets riding on their mom’s back. I found the video of the fish-stealing pelican for you. It is pretty incredible to see:
        https://ftw.usatoday.com/2021/03/nice-catch-osprey-excellent-steal-pelican-video-florida

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! That was amazing! The pelican was so much larger than the osprey. So much blatant thievery in the world of nature. Thank you for finding the video for me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        You’re welcome Barbara – I thought it was amazing enough to see the Osprey dragging that big fish and I was still saying “wow” when the Pelican snatched it! The poor fish didn’t know what to think!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. They are so pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sandra J says:

    That is something to see them eating fish. Great captures Linda, that like when I saw a goose trying to eat a fish, it never did finish it but it tried or it was just playing with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I’ve sure never seen it Sandra and I am often down at Dingell Park where they have swans congregating there and I’ve never seen them catch/eat fish before. I did see a Canada Goose catch and eat a fish one time at this Park. It had some difficulty holding onto the fish, so it flipped it onto the ice (clever) – the Creek was not fully covered with ice, just partially, so it ate the fish like it was laying on a plate. Very fun to watch this.

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  5. Ally Bean says:

    Fun, fun. It’s great to see them in action, so to speak. Beautiful birds

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary says:

    Hi Linda,
    Another awesome post. I love the photos. Spring is such a gift.
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Hi Mary – it’s so good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well. Glad you liked the post and its photos. Yes, Spring is the best time of the year – new beginnings. I have noted your new e-mail address. DiAnne told me you had left WordPress and are now on Instagram.

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      • Mary says:

        I’m now off all social media. Just crafting and spending time with my kids. I’m having cardiac issues. I’ll know more in June. More surgery? Other than that, I’m doing well. One day at a time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I’m glad you’re doing well and I will keep you in my prayers that no further surgery is needed. Social media does hog a lot of your time. I only tried Instagram because a fellow blogger was training for a 5K run and she would stop along the way and take pictures – she said she was inspired by my blog to do this, so she asked me to look what she had on her daily run. Other than that, I don’t go on Instagram. I follow nature and park sites and the news on Facebook and Twitter. I cancelled my cable in 2010, so I don’t have TV, so I get all my news from social media and an AM radio station.

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  7. I enjoyed this post, but I laughed at my reaction to your swan photos. If you had not described what was going on, I would have thought they were gagging on something instead of easily feeding on fish.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joni says:

    I didn’t know they ate fish either……lovely pictures….they are still my favorites even if they don’t have great personalities.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked the photos and yes, that’s for sure Joni – who knew a beautiful swan could be so surly?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Surly is a good word for it! I haven’t seen our two pairs lately – trying to avoid the geese at the park and their droppings…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        It is terrible and wait until the goslings get here and then they’ll be less places to walk without dodging droppings. I expect the goslings within the week. We had a terrible thing happen in Michigan in Oakland County (not near me). Homeowners who live on a lake woke up to find two dozen Mute Swans dead in the water or on their lawns. The DNR is investigating to see if someone poisoned them with antifreeze.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That is tragic.

        Like

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, it is very tragic Joni. I didn’t hear anything today about it, but it was all over the news yesterday. I guess it will take a few days for the necropsy results to come back and they’ll know what happened (hopefully).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Eilene Lyon says:

    Wonderful photos! You caught them just right. Something about that bright white plumage is just so majestic.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. They are so beautiful and I had no idea you have only seen them three times! They are so graceful swimming along aren’t they Linda?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda…….your “Catch of the Day”…………………………..is awesome…………..when………….could any of us get to see a swan catching and eating a fish up-close??…………………….I do see the GBH coming for breakfast in the morning and eating fish at our pond…………………………..I haven’t seen a swan in a long time………………………………..thank you……………………

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you like my “Catch of the Day” story Ann Marie. It was awesome indeed to see that pair of swans gliding along together or fishing too. I didn’t know swans ate fish either. I’ve seen geese eating fish at this park and ducks eating them too. Not swans!

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  12. Wow! I had no idea that swans eat fish! You did a great job catching it (no pun intended) with your camera. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It was a surprise, that’s for sure Sabine. A few years ago I was amazed to see Canada Geese paddling around the same area and chasing a fish, then flipping the fish onto a piece of flat ice to dine on it. Pretty special to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Laurie says:

    Wow! You really were at the right place at the right time to get some fabulous photos. I remember when that swan chased you. Yesterday Bill and I were running on a path near water. We had to go right between 2 Canada geese. One on either side of the path. The larger one hissed at us when we went by the first time. Then we turned around and had to run past them AGAIN! Luckily he just hissed again. Didn’t chase us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Laurie – glad you liked them. It was pure luck I happened to see them as I generally walk much earlier in the day. They mesmerized me with their grace and fishing abilities. Those geese are bad on any day, but now once they have their goslings in tow, will be even surlier.

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  14. bekitschig says:

    Hi Linda, I know they are pretty and the fishing photos are cool … swans are just way too creepy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Well Jeanine – someone else doesn’t care for them here because in another county, on a big lake, homeowners found two dozen dead swans a couple of days ago. They think they were poisoned with antifreeze but are doing an investigation to see what happened. They weren’t attacked by a predator, so they suspect foul play. The swans are aggressive, especially when they have their young with them – like the geese. You don’t want to mess with them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • bekitschig says:

        Oh no, that is horrible. Some people are so cruel to animals. Maybe it was an accident? Animals sometimes die after eating rat poisoning?
        Don’t get me wrong, swans are beautiful (and lent themselves to kitsch) they are just scarry things. Fingers crossed they find out what/who did this..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        They have not said anything yet Jeanine – it is horrible but they will do an investigation and the necropsies too and hopefully get to the cause of the deaths. About five years ago, in the heat of the Summer, some homeowners who lived in waterfront homes (in a different place than this) went out in the morning and found lots of Mallard ducks floating on the water or washed up on shore. That was algae bloom – it is too early for that. But sometimes in smaller ponds, streams or even lakes, if it’s hot and the water gets stagnant, it gets covered with green algae (ugh) and it is toxic. The birds eat it and then die. I hope I never see such a sight.

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  15. Dave says:

    The “Mute Swan” name stuck with me as I read your post, Linda, and made me wonder if they’re generally silent (unlike those annoying Canadian geese)? You mentioned the one male who “snorted” you away, so maybe not so much. Regardless, they are beautiful, graceful animals, even in the middle of their daily dining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Dave – I have taken a few interpretive classes about local wildlife at Lake Erie Metropark which has a small Mute Swan population and the guide said they were named “Mute Swans” as they are not as loud as the Trumpeters or Tundra swans. I’ve never heard the Mute Swans calling to one another and I rarely see them in flight. I have seen/heard the Trumpeters a few times, usually at larger parks. That male swan was making a loud snorting noise and I figured his head was underwater while looking for plants and he was just congested. I was surprised to realize it was a warning call for me to get out of Dodge! They are beautiful birds and I enjoy seeing them. On a sad note, two dozen Mute Swans were found dead in a lake and on homeowners lawns earlier this week. This is about 50 miles from where I live. The DNR is doing necropsies on them and conducting an investigation. They think they were poisoned by antifreeze as there are no marks on their bodies to indicate predators attacked them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave says:

        “Trumpeter Swan” is as graceful as the bird itself. Or maybe I’m just a forever fan of E.B. White 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, they are very graceful Dave. A fellow blogger is a wildlife photographer in Tofino, British Columbia. He posts photos of the ballet of Trumpeters that pass through his area and they are perfectly synchronized in flight. I have only read “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White many years ago and loved it!

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  16. ruthsoaper says:

    I had no idea they are considered an invasive species. I have only seen them in our area once (maybe twice) years ago. They are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I probably should have put that in the post … they are considered invasive because they eat so much vegetation below the water – not only do they pull up about eight pounds or more of vegetation per bird per day, but the plants have tiny critters embedded in them and they are being uprooted from their homes/destroyed. So, that is the problem. They don’t graze on the grass to supplement their diet. And I didn’t know they ate fish – that was a first for me! Did you hear about the Mute Swans in Waterford Ruth? The homeowners near a lake went outside a few days ago and found two dozen dead Mute Swans. The DNR is conducting an investigation – they believe they were poisoned by antifreeze. Very sad!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruthsoaper says:

        Interesting why they are considered invasive. I didn’t realize they had that much impact on their environment. No I hadn’t heard that story but antifreeze would make sense. I understand it is quite deadly when ingested.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, I’ve read that before and whenever I see swans at the Detroit River, they spend more time in diving position then gliding along. So I believe they could eat eight pounds of aquatic plants a day. I haven’t heard the outcome of the investigation yet – I think it takes a few days for the necropsies of the swans. I have heard it is deadly for all animals, humans too. They say the sweet smell attracts animals to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Michael says:

    I wonder just how many miles you’ve walked there Linda..and heavenS those photos…how very Fabulous

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I should have counted through the years Michael – it has to be thousands. When I was more organized, before blogging took off, I kept a log on my computer how many miles and where I went, but now, I just use a calendar and job down the miles. Glad you liked the photos – first time ever to see a swan eating a fish … the female was a real drama queen in all the photos I took of her.

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  18. You find interesting birds and animals on your walks! I learn a lot from you about birds’ names and their characteristics. After I saw your post about Mallard Ducks way back, I was able to identify them by name at a pond over here. OMG, I felt so snazzy and kids were impressed. Now they’re not ducks with green heads but Mallards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I am lucky that I do find interesting birds and animals on my walks Esther and if something piques my interest I hang out a little while longer to investigate (unless they trot or fly off). Like my post today about another Mama Goose on a nest and her mate in which his antics were amusing and I came home with about 50 shots and was forced to winnow them down for today’s post. The swans were really a situation of “right place, right time” since swans so seldom come to this Park. I was excited to see them. The Mallards are beautiful aren’t they? I would love to see a Wood Duck with their beautiful coloring.

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  19. Oh, and I digressed. Pictures are wonderful and you got the action pictures. Fascinating to see them catch fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I always digress. 🙂 I am so behind here at WP again. Last night I did the “I’ll go to Reader instead of Comments” but I’m not sure that was a great move. That is the first time I’ve seen a swan eat fish. I often see them down at the riverfront where they are diving into the water for aquatic plants, but never fishing!

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