.. I WISH it was the Fourth of July! (Then again, when it is the Fourth of July, I’ll be whining it’s too hot!) I tweaked a lyric from an old tune by the band Chicago after my original blog title fizzled out and my Saturday, January 22nd agenda did not happen from the get-go.
The long-range forecast for SE Michigan was we should get slammed with snow around mid-February – well that prediction suited me just fine as we’re that much closer to Spring by then. I may complain about the cold weather, but at least it doesn’t impact driving or walking.
So, on the 22nd, I planned an excursion to visit all the Detroit River shoreline parks. That trek would give a nice photographic overview of the icy venues along the riverfront, I’d get a long walk done and be able to warm up while driving to each venue. An added bonus would be the car would get a good run before that evening’s predicted wintry mix. Even before I left, I already had a title for the post bubbling around in my brain: “Dilly-Dallying along the Detroit River” – but, once I stepped outside, I knew I would not be languishing on many boardwalks thanks to Mother Nature and her darned Alberta Clipper.
Lotsa layers and close to the vest.
Though it was a tad warmer than the previous Saturday, the wind chill/real feel of 6F (-14C) was the exact same. This time there was a stiff wind as well. It was gray and gloomy, with the promise of a ray or two of “ineffective sunshine” as the weatherman termed it. I had on multiple layers, so hopefully I’d stay toasty, especially my fingers and toes which often send me scurrying to the car to warm up.
I took an extra camera battery and kept it zipped up inside my polar fleece vest. For my digital compact camera, I need to replace the batteries every two years. I always have two and rotate them, so I’m using these old batteries while the weather is so cold and saving the new batteries for Spring. When I took the icy pics at the Detroit River for my “Frozen Foray” post, the brutal temps were problematic for the camera. I pushed the button to shut it off and retract the lens, but the lens would not retract. To fix the problem, I had to go to the car and wait for the car to heat up to shut off the camera and put it in its pouch.
The bitter cold wasn’t a crushing blow to my original agenda – it was Winter after all; I’d just pare the park venues down a little. But first I would make a pit stop at Council Point Park to feed my furry and feathered friends and warn them icy and dicey conditions might keep me away.
The Peanut Lady is in the house.
I was packing peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet and a seed bell. I was going to wait until February to hand out their special treats, but I relented due to the bitter cold. I still had more suet, walnuts and hazelnuts in my stash for the critters come February. Besides, there is always Amazon, or my friend Phil at Wild Birds Unlimited if the cold weather persists and I exhaust my supply. While I don’t feed every single inhabitant at this venue, the regulars know my arrival time, so they are the lookout for me.
I laid out goodies on the picnic table, where a few squirrels were eating the corn that they initially turned their snouts up at. They raced over to see what The Peanut Lady had brought. The suet is never a go-to treat, so they let it sit there, nibbling on the sunflower seeds instead.
I only intended to walk around, dispense treats, then get going …
But then I saw this squirrel, whose image you see in the header, as he used a fallen log to cross the frozen Creek. With all the precision of an Olympic gymnast tiptoeing along the balance beam, he/she then scrambled up the Creek bank and over to the picnic table. I barely got the camera out quickly enough to capture the last part of the crossing.
Since the camera was out after I hurriedly shucked off the mittens and slipped on the gloves I use for picture-taking, I decided to take some more photos and yes, I reminded myself there would be no standing on the cement ledge to get any fish-eating-duck shots on this trek (or any other for that matter). The City had salted and plowed the path, so it was clear and easy walking. A light layer of snow was on the grass and along the edges. Most of the Creek was frozen – what a bleak morning.
I took a few pictures of the squirrels in the Safe Haven Tree. Its wayward branches do not make for good photos, but you get an idea of how cold my furry friends were – notice their tails wrapped across their bodies to keep them warm.
I stopped along the way near where I used to feed the squirrels and birds at the fallen log and tree stump and laid down some peanuts and sunflower seeds and soon a few furry friends emerged from their hidey holes to eat.
My fingers felt as if they were frozen solid … blowing on them wouldn’t help as I’d have to pull down the mask to accomplish this task. Sigh. So, I put the camera away, intending to finish up on the perimeter path loop and head to the car.
Well, the camera didn’t remain tucked away for long ….
Wait! What is out on the ice?
I saw a flash of orange on the ice … at first I thought it might be a Fox Squirrel, but though they bulk up for the Winter months, they are never THAT big. I was excited – was it a fox? I understand that there have been deer, coyote and fox sightings in this venue when the Creek freezes over, but I’ve never been lucky enough to glimpse any of those animals … perhaps now? Was this my reward for staying at my favorite nature nook this morning? I hurried over to the Creek banks to get a better look, even though my view was partially obstructed by brush.
The mystery critter was a cat and it was wearing a disgruntled look (who could blame it) as it was crouched on the ice looking very miserable. You’ve heard the expression “cool cat” but this frozen fellow had long ago surpassed being cool. I got as close as I safely could to the Creek bank and got this shot. Notice the frozen shad near the cat.
My interest was piqued – where did it come from? I made a mental note to check the Facebook neighborhood forum to see if anyone was missing an orange cat. There was another walker and we chitchatted about the cold and when I looked over, the cat was busy eating, no doubt dead shad, as some of the conglomeration of shad you saw in last Monday’s post, had shifted downstream after a day of high winds.
So this kitty was content … food-wise anyway. Later that evening when I finally got online, I checked the Facebook sites for missing cats – there were none and I’ve not seen it since.
Okay … I couldn’t help myself.
I had to glance over to see if the alcove was still a happenin’ place for the shad-lovin’ ducks. Yes it was. I only took a handful of pictures this time. Surprisingly, despite the bone-chilling temps, ducks were bobbing around in a small area of open water, delighting in what fellow blogger Heather quipped was an all-you-can-eat buffet.
With frozen fingers, I finally left the Park and was on my way, enjoying the heated seats; I blasted the heat very high to thaw out. I made it to the next destination, but on the way home, those predicted snow flurries came early, as fat flakes quickly pasted themselves onto the car window and Fort Street, making for a slippery trip home. We ended up getting a few inches of a wintry mix Saturday night and again Sunday night, so there was no walk for me until later in the week.