I saw this 5K event advertised on one of the park sites I follow on Twitter. After signing up, I gleaned a few factoids which I’m going to pepper throughout this post, like this one: did you know there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most metropolitan areas?
I participated in this virtual 5K event on Saturday, October 9th. As you can see from the header image, although I had from October 9th through October 16th to participate, since Mother Nature’s wily ways had wrecked several planned weekend excursions already, that day’s weather was sunny, albeit hot, so off I went on day #1 of the event.
To say it was hot was an understatement. As previously mentioned in another post, our weather folks had cleverly coined our unusual heat wave as “Augtober” or “Octoaster” – it was 15 degrees above normal in the morning. I left the house in short sleeves and before I would return home, having walked a whopping 7.4 miles altogether, the weather was downright sultry. It was 72 degrees F (22C) when I reached the car to drive home in the early afternoon.
I stopped at Council Point Park earlier that morning to walk and I did that one-mile loop to feed my furry and feathered friends. I knew I would plan on being gone at least four or five hours, as I wasn’t trying to win any accolades for my speed in completing the 5K, especially as I planned to meander along, taking some photos and dealing with the heat.
This 5K was in conjunction with National Wildlife Refuge Week.
When I registered for this 5K, I had to designate the wildlife refuge where I would participate. There are 500 such wildlife refuges across the nation. I chose the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWF)/Humbug Marsh in Trenton, Michigan. I have been there several times since it opened in October 2020. There was a suggested route to complete the 5K (3.2 miles), but I knew I would likely double it to bulk up my miles.
I parked and headed toward the Visitor Center to see if any notices about this event were posted. There were a few signs, including this one about the starting point and another regarding distances.
First you needed to hike down to the end of the Korneffel Fishing Pier. I took this photo to show how the walkway seemingly goes on forever – it is a whopping 700 feet (213 meters) long and juts out into the western Trenton Channel.
From the very edge of the pier, I noticed many dark-colored birds in a few trees. There were 28 birds to be exact. My interest was piqued and initially I couldn’t tell what type of birds they were. Were they Crows? Turkey Vultures? I zoomed in and recognized the profiles and hooked beaks as Double-Crested Cormorants and confirmed it as one took flight.
Traversing the Monguagon Delta.
I’ve posted about this DRIWR venue multiple times, but focused more on the nature aspect, rather than where the venue is located. The Fishing Pier and the Old Growth Forest are picturesque, but the Delta area is close to busy Jefferson Avenue with a view of an industrial plant and down by the Pier you will glimpse the not-so-picturesque, twin smokestacks rising from the Trenton Channel Power Plant.
The DRIWR is not unique in this regard. There are actually 101 urban national wildlife refuges where natural green spaces allow finned, feathered or furry wildlife to thrive amongst urban and industrial areas.
I usually have some luck getting a few photos at the Delta and today was no different. From the walkway I saw several Great Egrets, but only this one was close enough for a photo …
… and I got one shot of this Great Blue Heron before I spooked him and he took off screeching.
This Painted Turtle was lazing on a huge rock in the warm sun.
Happy to have had a few wildlife encounters and coupled with the hot sun, I knew it was time to make my way to Humbug Marsh, the 410-acre wetland and shady, 300+ year-old forest, BUT that leg of my 5K walk was halted for about an hour due to some unanticipated drama.
Drama at the DRIWR.
I had noticed the delivery van from the local Wild Birds Unlimited store parked in the lot. I know the owner as he was my HVAC service tech for many years, before he retired from that line of work and bought a WBU franchise. He and his wife run the Woodhaven, Michigan WBU. He made several runs to my home to deliver bags of peanuts and hummingbird feeders/paraphernalia during the early part of the pandemic. I decided to keep my eyes peeled for Phil and Therese on my excursion.
Suddenly, there was a cacophony of barking dogs and the sound seemed to be originating from the forest area. On the back patio of the Visitor Center, a group of people stood gazing into the forest and talking animatedly amongst themselves. What in the world? Your Roving Reporter had to investigate.
I could see birdhouses on the table. Phil must have another one of his seminars on bird feeding that he conducts at various parks. But where was the teacher? Hmm. I went to join the group and learned that during Phil’s class, they heard barking and yelps. It seems there was a woman walking two pit bulls and one of the pit bulls attacked another woman’s small dog. The bully bulldog went for the smaller dog’s face and injured it, plus bit its hip. It turns out the person who saved the day was Phil, who heard the commotion, grabbed a bottle of water he had handy, dumped it on the pit bull’s head, then pulled the pit bull off the smaller dog. Yikes! Phil was lucky he didn’t get bitten. Suddenly, along with the others in the group, I watched in horror as the woman with the injured dog was crying and while I did not see her dogs face, I did see it was limping badly and I saw the blood on its fur. Phil gave interviews to the police and soon a fire truck and EMS arrived to check on the small dog’s owner. I chatted with Phil briefly – he was visibly shaken and said the owner of the two pit bulls left the area before first responders arrived. I left to keep plugging away at this 5K in the almost-oppressive heat and turned around to take a picture of Phil at the seminar.
I resumed my trek by heading to Humbug Marsh.
I returned to the suggested 5K route, the Orange Trail, then the Green Trail. Here are a few shots around the Old Growth Forest. Our Summer-like Fall caused our leaf colors to turn and fall in late October, so there were no peak colors to observe.
We’d had significant rain, so many of the raised walkways were flooded, including near the murky-looking Vernal Spring Pool.
The pathways were full of gravel, walnuts, acorns and a few crispy leaves that crunched and crackled under my feet. I kept watching the path for Eastern Fox Snakes which are known to be in the area and I also looked for beach roses which were supposed to be at this venue – I saw neither.
As I was leaving the forest area, I chatted it up with one of the uniformed park rangers who was putting out more signage for the Walk for the Wild event and the weather came up. He said “’scuse me ma’am” as he darted into the shade of an information kiosk and removed his ranger hat. He said “if I’d have known it would have been this hot, I’ve have worn my shorts!”
Here is the finishing sign.
October 9th happened to be Global Big Day, the second ebird.org day for counting birds in 2021, so I was counting birds along with miles walked. I saw Seagulls – nothing unusual there, but the 28 Cormorants were something special, as were the 21 Killdeer making a huge noise buzzing around nearby – no pictures of them as I’d tucked my camera away already. I submitted my finds to the ebird.org site as you see below.
There was some fun swag – a tee-shirt, plus a bib you could design yourself. The finishing medal is heavy and has a powerful message on the back.
I got 7.4 miles done that day and the walk seemed as long as this post. Thanks for sticking with it if you’re still here – I know it was wordy and picture laden, but I didn’t want to leave out anything!