Hmm – do I dare churn out a few more posts on local waterfowl after two Mute Swan posts last week?
Well, that is the plan until I FINALLY return to the remaining 2021 treks that were usurped by holiday and Winter posts.
Today you’ll see a recap of my visit to Dingell Park at the Detroit River shoreline on February 27th. You may recall my intention was to bop by Council Point Park, then head straight to Dingell Park, but then I was waylaid by the pair of Mute Swans that caused my fascination with the green-banded Pen #M011.
After parking the car, first I strolled the boardwalk and got some steps in …
… but spent a lot of time at the pavilion area.
Then, after chattin’ it up with a couple of birders, I strayed to the border of Ecorse and Wyandotte for more photos. Because there was a twist to that trek, I’ll save that leg of the journey for next Monday’s post.
The Herons were MIA, but other waterfowl were well represented.
What a difference from my last trip here in early January when the icy Detroit River was so barren looking, with waves frozen in place and huge slabs of ice slapping up against the shoreline.
It was a beautiful morning – the water was sparkling and the sun glinting off the remaining ice floes. Because it was windy, the ice floes were drifting ever so slightly, occasionally bumping up against the icy shoreline, making clinking noises like ice in a glass. It was a waterfowl enthusiast’s paradise … I didn’t know where to look first.
A few Mallards had staked out smaller, stationary chunks of ice as their spot (despite having icy-cold feet, but maybe it was a respite from the frigid water).
Canada Geese were either snoozing or honking noisily at the world, but mostly at one another, with all the usual histrionics that Canada Geese are so fond of doing, only to“make friends” a minute after hissing, wing flapping and a lowering of their slender black necks to water level.
There were Mute Swans sleeping, swimming, or hanging out with some geese on ice floes. Note their dirty necks from diving for aquatic plants to feed on.
Time was a’ tickin’ for Bald Eagle sighting.
My decision to head to Dingell Park was based on the weather. We were slated to have warmer weather over the next few days, so likely the ice floes would melt, thus potentially this was my last chance to see the Bald Eagles that overwinter at Mud Island (a 21-acre property across from Dingell Park). The eagles stay in the bare trees at this uninhabited island, while scoping out their next meal. Then they swoop down to catch a fish with those long talons, but they also catch fish from the ice floes.
I follow Dingell Park on Facebook and the eagles had been plentiful in January and February. Photographers posted up-close images of mature eagles (dark-brown plumage with a completely white head) and also juvenile eagles (mottled brown plumage all over). There were a variety of ducks featured, as well as a pack of coyotes traveling across the frozen ice (I’d have loved to have seen that).
Well my visit didn’t disappoint as I saw several eagles that day. From the pavilion platform I had a good view and was by myself most of the time. Usually the viewing area is crowded: photographers with cameras with long lenses, or folks using binoculars, all wishing to see and/or photograph the eagles.
Later, a man and woman were standing at the pavilion near me, she with a smartphone and he with a camera on a tripod and binoculars suspended from his neck. We chatted about the beautiful morning, then shifted our focus to the trees at Mud Island. Soon a lone eagle took flight from the trees and glided overhead. I got a couple of shots, but the sun went out momentarily, so they are more like silhouettes.
Moments later that eagle joined a pair of eagles on an ice floe.
I watched intently, but no eagle in that trio of hopefuls caught a fish, so that same eagle left on its own. It was successful as you see in this picture, with a fish caught in its talons.
I enjoyed myself, snapping a ton of pictures and surprisingly, not one seagull was around – were they worried about the eagles making them their prey?