Birds of a Feather.

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?

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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79 Responses to Birds of a Feather.

  1. Anne says:

    Your photographs are lovely to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Zazzy says:

    It’s fascinating to read your stories about your birds – and the photos really are lovely – but what are bald eagles doing so far up north? We have them spending summers down on our lake where they cause me to get into near-death situations while watching them fly as I drive. I love watching them glide through the air. And how wonderful to see them up there along with the ducks and geese and swans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Zazzy! That was such a good day I had … first the pair of Mute Swans up close at the park where I walk nearly every day, then this nice assortment of birds down at the River, just about one mile away from the first park! The bald eagles actually stay here in Michigan all Winter, though we have an area on Lake Erie at Lake Erie Metropark where they have a bird spotter that keeps a tally of every raptor that passes over the boat launch area of that park during migration season. They even have an event called “Hawkfest” which is a September weekend devoted to raptor enthusiasts coming with cameras or binoculars to watch this migration pattern and birds, plus they have have experts give talks on raptors. The raptors actually pass through from over several months, from mid-September through December, different species at different times, but I’ve gone there plenty of times in that time period and have not seen a single raptor passing through.

      This platform at Dingell Park is right across from Mud Island – the eagles come and stay all Winter. And you get a great view of them in the trees. Recently someone said there were 42 mature eagles there at Mud Island in one day! What a sight that would be to see! There was a big steel plant that closed down last year and all the hot steel created a lot of steam and that steam would keep the water open and not frozen, so the eagles stay there and “fish” all Winter. Apparently, even with the plant being closed, the eagles were still there anyway. This place brings a lot of photographers with telephoto lenses and they post the pics on Dingell Park’s Facebook page.

      I had a hawk swoop out of a tree last year … he came out of nowhere and cut in front of me, nearly striking my windshield. That wingspan filled my view – it was terrifying, so I can imagine how you feel as eagles have a much larger wingspan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zazzy says:

        I just love watching them. They look as though they don’t have a care in the world. I had a hawk hanging out in my big maple last spring. I’m hoping he’ll be back this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well the hawks are beautiful birds for sure Zazzy, but my experience with them and the squirrels has not been nice. In addition to feeding the squirrels and birds at the Park, I was also feeding the squirrels around the house. I had a collection of squirrels and birds showing up for peanuts every morning – I put them on the porch. Then I didn’t see my gray squirrels – they were so cute, especially the male, which I named Grady. He would beg every time I saw him and come running when I returned from walking or an errand. I noticed him and his mate were missing first, then others disappeared. It was the beginning of the pandemic and my neighbor had COVID and his plant was shut down, so he was watching TV in the living room all the time, so I learned later that my neighbor (a hunter) was watching the hawk in the tree across the street and the hawk had his eyes trained on the squirrels and was swooping down to get them. I stopped feeding everyone immediately. The hawks is why I stopped feeding the squirrels and birds along the perimeter path at the Park, because the hawks glide overhead or sit on a high fence. I have never seen them catch and carry off a squirrel, but another walker has (I hope I never see that happen), but I have seen the hawks swoop down to go after the squirrels. I make drops, but I do feed them if they beg on the path, but I herd them over near a tree or bush and give them some peanuts, so they are protected.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Zazzy – these were some of my fun finds from last year, many birds, a lot of squirrels. I made a slideshow of my favorite shots. My all-time favorite last year was a fawn and I came home with a ton of pictures … I think I floated home that day. 🙂
      https://lindaschaubblog.net/2022/01/01/happy-new-year-5/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zazzy says:

        Thanks! I may have to make some sort of gallery of critters. I don’t see as many up here and I didn’t get as many pictures as I would liked down in Shell Knob. Nice to know another critter lover.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That was the first time I did it and I’m thinking I’ll make it an annual New Year’s Day feature going forward. That fawn just made my day Zazzy. The mom traipsed off to swim in a pond and left her fawn standing there with me. Such a cutie. Yes, an animal lover like you and it is good for us to like animals and nature … it helps take away the harshness of the world out there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. peggy says:

    Wow – Great pictures. Liked the first one with the goose pointing his head toward the sky. Great varity of birds. You certainly captured some good pictures of the eagels. That looks so cold where the swans are curled up sleeping on the ice. Brrr

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Peggy – that was a fun day at the River and it was still pretty cold. I can’t imagine those swans curling up to sleep on the ice either and the ducks looked content, but their feet must be freezing. I liked that goose too – it was looking up in the air, honking loudly, nonstop, most of the time I was there. It was as if it wanted to pick a fight with anyone who was game. I’ve gone several years now and these were the best eagle photos I’ve gotten as the eagles were closer. I’ve come home with pictures that look like brown dots sitting on the ice. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        You did a great job on capturing all these birds. I figured that goose with his head up was honking. They can be very mean when they want to be. There is an old joke about ducks. “Why do ducks have web feet? To stomp out forest fires. Why do elephants have big feet? To stomp out burning ducks.” A silly childhood joke. Ha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Thank you Peggy – it was a very enjoyable day. I went on a little farther and that will be next week’s post – it has a twist at the end. I like a day like that to just forget about everything else and observe and photograph and have a blog post bubbling around in my brain before I even leave. I’ve never heard that childhood joke – it is cute.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        Looking forward to your upcoming post with a twist at the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Hope it doesn’t disappoint Peggy. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        Oh your posts never disappoint me. I love your walks and all the little creatures you photograph.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That’s good Peggy – thank you. I love a long walk, when I’m not in a hurry and can look all around. Throughout this last Winter, it was so icy, I had to pay attention to where I walked, so I’m glad Spring is around the corner, though we’re having a wintry mix Friday into Saturday. We had 73 degrees today, almost a record, but above normal for us in March. The weather makes no sense at all. They said we’re going to have a rainy Spring. That would be the third year in a row for a wet Spring. I don’t care for that, but better than worrisome severe weather.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        We had 77 degrees yesterday. So many weather records have been broken this year. We are due rain today and next Tuesday probably tornadoes, but Spring is full of storms here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        We almost broke a record yesterday and it was amazingly warm for this time of year. I heard about some storms brewing across the U.S. – we have rain and storms tonight and through most of tomorrow, but not severe weather. I hope the tornadoes stay away for you, even though you have your ace-in-the-hole safe haven, it is still worrisome.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        We call tornado shelters here in Arkansas “Fraidy Holes.” Ha

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well I’d have to have a “Fraidy Hole” if I lived with that many tornadoes. I am dreading the onset of tornado season. We had over 20 bad volatile storms last Summer. After our “Green Storm” Derecho in July 1980 I worry about every severe storm that comes our way. Good luck with your Tuesday weather Peggy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • peggy says:

        I will head to my daughter’s fraidy hole if things get bad Tuesday.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        That sounds like a good plan Peggy … hope it fizzles out.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice photos, Linda! I like how you pointed out why the necks were yellowish, I was wondering about that. Makes sense. The eagle shots are great – way to stick it out in the cold to catch them. I appreciate you sharing these photos. My walking route involves seeing more crazy drivers than it does critters. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Shelley – glad you liked them. I also was struck by how yellowish the swan’s necks looked when they were sleeping, although one swan by himself looked a little grungy from the neck up as well while swimming. The necks are not necessarily dirty from the Detroit River as you can see through to the River bottom near the shoreline, but getting dirty at the Creek where I walk for example – it is not clear water at all. I was happy with the eagle shots – most times they are sitting too far out on the ice and I come home with brown dots. 🙂 Before I discovered Council Point Park in 2013, I spent the first few years walking in the neighborhood. I wish you could see the look on my face when I discovered Council Point Park (I never knew it was there and it was established in 1995)!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How exciting that you saw the eagles! Thanks for the photos, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, the eagles were on my Birdie Bucket List every year Anne – now I can cross them off. I also had another bird I found the same day and that will be next week’s post. I am not a “birder” but I was pretty excited. I’ve set my sights on any owl for many years, but no luck. They have “Owl Prowls” at night in the Metroparks, but I don’t want to be walking around in a dark forest with a lantern.

      Like

  6. Love those waterbird footprints leading to and from the edge of the ice! The bright orange feet on the mallards are striking. So happy you got to see some of the eagles — nice capture of the one carrying a fish. I read that eagles will prey on gulls so I think your hunch is correct.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Barbara! That was such a fun day and there will be more photos next week as I crossed eagles off and and another bird on my Birdie Bucket List. I started to put “Kilroy was here!” under the footprints (it was a heron) because I know the herons hang out there all the time, but they were not there that morning. (I figured the young people may not have heard that expression “Kilroy was here” for the footprints.) I love those orange feet on the Mallards too – you really notice it against the ice. I felt sorry for them. I was lucky with that eagle as the sun kept going in and out and luckily it was shining when the eagle got its fish. It’s odd not to see seagulls there so that’s likely the reason. My seagull photo in Wednesday’s posts was taken at a different park.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had heard the expression “Kilroy was here!” before but didn’t know its origins. Had some fun researching that. 🙂 It is amazing how the mallards can keep those bright orange feet on the ice without becoming frozen solid. Nature is full of miracles.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I also heard the expression for many years Barbara. However, I never connected it to the cartoon figure, as I just thought that guy was someone doodling. The expression does have an interesting history doesn’t it? If I were a duck, I’d be shifting from one foot to the other to give one foot a little rest from the cold. The geese do that more than the ducks from what I can tell and I get photos of them on one leg and sleeping. The geese plop down in the snow too. I see that at the park where I walk every day.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. J P says:

    Sorry, but all I see is more snow and ice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I hope we’re soon done with it JP – the weather is crazy. We had a squall yesterday that put down a quick inch of snow and caused a 20-car pile-up during whiteout conditions. Winter, the gift that keeps on giving!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. We don’t see bald eagles here. Most of our raptors are hawks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      We’ve got hawks too and turkey vultures – lots of turkey vultures. I once went on a two-hour cruise through the Metroparks and we were scoping out eagles nests and only saw a lot of vultures instead. This was a treat for me as they usually hang out and catch fish farther from the pavilion area.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Olivia says:

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. great action shots of the Baldies Linda! You are getting better at taking shots!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Wayne – I was excited to see the photos then realized I came home with a photo of an eagle that caught a fish. I was all caught up in the moment and didn’t see it at the time.

      Like

  11. Pam Lazos says:

    love those shiny green duck heads, Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ally Bean says:

    I like the Mallard’s green heads. They seem like they’re all ready for St. Patrick’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sandra J says:

    Great pictures Linda, brrr, I don’t know how birds sit on ice. Such a wonderful variety 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Sandra – glad you liked the photos. It was a really fun day. I don’t know how the birds sit on the ice either – the swans were curled up asleep and didn’t seem to mind. At least the ducks were awake, the one pondering whether to go back into the water.

      Like

  14. trumstravels says:

    I do love photographing Bald Eagles, they are one of my favourites! Your waterfront looks pretty awesome, somewhat like ours. It’s so nice to be able to enjoy a waterfront city.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, mine too! The Bald Eagles have been on my annual “Birdie Bucket List” for years. Often I’ve been here in the Winter, but the eagles perch on the ice floes too far away, so I was luckier this time. Besides going along the Downtown Detroit Riverwalk, there are three waterfront parks with boardwalks. All are picturesque and the Summer, people fish from the boardwalk, so it is always a hubbub of activity there once it warms up.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Laurie says:

    The photo of the eagle with a fish in its talons is the winner (for me, at least). I love eagle sightings. They are rare enough to cause some excitement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      That is my favorite too Laurie. I’ve been down here many times, but that was the closest shot I have gotten of the eagles. Sometimes they “fish” farther away from shore. They are a big attraction here and someone said they counted 42 mature eagles in one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great pics, Linda! How outdoor birds can maintain a 103 degree body temp while standing on ice or while swimming and sleeping in cold water is beyond me. Tough critters for sure! They sure have my deep respect! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ruthsoaper says:

    What a great day Linda! And eagles to boot! I love the photo of the lone duck squatting on the slab of ice.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eilene Lyon says:

    That’s impressive to spot an immature eagle catching a fish. It takes years for them to learn and even some mature bald eagles are not very good at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      There are a lot of fish here Eilene and I wonder if the juveniles have been watching the older eagles fishing and gained some knowledge about the technique. I have read in the neighborhood Facebook forum about how hawks in some neighborhoods now – one person described the parent hawks demonstrating to their offspring how to nab prey, then “sent the youngsters out” to hunt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eilene Lyon says:

        I’ve watched eagle adults teaching their fledglings to hunt. It’s impressive alto see the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes it is Eilene. My neighbor had a low wire flower basket on a shelf on her deck which she left out all Winter. Two Mourning Doves decided to make a nest there. My neighbor had a door wall and could watch the pair throughout the nesting phase and beyond. The male and female rotated sitting on the eggs. Only two eggs, one chick did not hatch and they cast that egg out of the nest onto the deck. They both raised the chick and gave it flying lessons. My neighbor documented its takeoff and landing and sent me photos every day, some which I shared in posts. One morning she grabbed the camera to see what the little family was up to and was disappointed to find the chick was fully fledged and they had all fled the coop!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Prior... says:

    I bet the gulls were worried about the eagles – and love the photos here – the eagle with prey! The opening bird tracks (and how it came right after you said you got some steps in… hahahah)
    and the color of the ducks really stand out on the ice and snow – reminded me of how vibrant the squirrels fur and color looked in the snow last week.

    Like

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It was a picturesque day Yvette – the ice and snow near the water and the bird tracks made it a magical morning. I do like those neon-colored duck feet – they make me smile. I believe that was a heron’s tracks, even though the heron was MIA. Glad you liked the photos and I was excited about the eagle with prey!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        The whole post was so
        Nature terrific and especially because I haven’t been to a park in a while

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Thanks Yvette – I came home in such a great mood that day, the sun brightening my mood and all the birds down at the riverfront I saw as well. We get teased with a few warm days, then return to cold, but the landscape for the most part is blah and boring – at least the ice floes and snow were something different to see.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Joni says:

    So many things to love about this post Linda, the descriptive paragraph with the sun glinting and the ice tinkling in a glass, the green mallards on the ice, the geese histronics, and especially the bald eagles. I’m insanely jealous, as I’ve yet to see one, despite there being 13 sightings at the local park a few weeks ago. Almost makes me love winter….almost….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked this post Joni – thank you! I had such a good time that day and lingered at the River for a long time and went down the boardwalk on another adventure. Those pictures weren’t as close up, but it was a fun little jaunt. At least these eagles you can tell are eagles – in the past I’ve gone down there and the ice floes and eagles are farther back and I come home with brown dots on the ice. You, like me go at the wrong time because I understood there were 42 eagles in one day not too long ago. With these pictures you can love Winter because the ice and snow doesn’t bother us … it is the ice and snow we have to deal with makes Winter seem so long. I hope Spring’s arrival on Sunday means the end of the ice and snow … we are getting a potential wintry mix on Saturday.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Wonderful bird shots Linda. We have a bald eagles nest a few miles from our house. I love watching them eat in the fields.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Diane! All the times I’ve gone to this shoreline park to get eagle pictures, I finally came home with photos that are more than a brown dot on the ice. 🙂 That’s great you can see the eagles out in the fields. I’ve gone to Lake Erie Metropark where they say there is a pair of osprey on top of a platform on a pole. They built a nest in the fire alarm siren which is a tall pole with metal siren and it had to be moved. I look every time I go – no luck seeing them though.

      Like

  22. never too many waterfowl pictures or post great you caught the eagle shots.

    Liked by 1 person

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