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.