… Nuttin’ Honeys – OH MY!
Hits and misses.
Up until Labor Day I hadn’t taken more than a handful of photos at my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park, after inundating you with images charting the goslings’ growth from nursery to teenagers back in the Spring. The truth is, nothing much has been happening. As hot as it was this Summer, I was sure I’d be sharing shots galore of “splooting” squirrels long before now, but, believe it or not, I never saw a single “splooter” until Labor Day weekend. More about those splooters later.
As mentioned in my prior post back in the Spring, once the goslings were old enough, they followed their parents, paddling down to the Detroit River, as the adults gathered in the water, safe from predators, while awaiting the growth of their flight feathers. The molting process takes several months from the time we first saw large quilled feathers laying around the perimeter path, until the parents return in early September with their new flight feathers and their offspring who are now young geese. During the lengthy absence of the geese, it is poop-free and drama-free along the perimeter path from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I find it odd, that “our geese” remain MIA, having not returned to their home turf and now a homeowner who lives on the fringe of the Park has stopped providing dishpans of water and corn for the geese and other critters.
After Harry the Heron wowed me (and you too) with his fishing prowess back in the Spring, he has similarly been missing. Is it a big-time attitude on his part, or the fishing has not been great at the cement landing? I beg to differ about the fish biting as Jacob and his little lady friend, that sweet toddler, have been fishing on multiple occasions this Summer at that location, she with her dark sunglasses and fishing rod in hand, a rubber worm dangling from a string (no hook) and Jacob unhooking shad and pitching them back into the murky waters of the Ecorse Creek.
I did see a Great Egret, first time ever, fishing at the other side of the Park.
Even the turtles have not been sunbathing on the fallen logs, ready to plop into the water as soon as they see the whites of my eyes – truthfully, it’s been a rather unremarkable Summer.
I didn’t know what to make of the absence of the regular critters – hopefully climate change is not wreaking havoc on my slice of paradise, as I shudder when I see the huge patches of algae bloom and green gook on the surface of the Ecorse Creek after multiple bouts of very hot and humid weather.
But some critters showed up to provide a photo op over Labor Day weekend. Below are a few of them.
I saw this Cottontail Rabbit pawing the dry grass and then digging a hole. I wondered if she had a nest of babies. After taking these pictures, I looked every time I passed by that spot and she was gone, but I found no babies, so I figure she was channeling the squirrels’ zeal about storing peanuts for Winter. I contemplated using the bunny for a Wordless Wednesday post and entitling it “social media be like going down that ol’ rabbit hole.”
I follow a few non-profit animal sites on Facebook, one which is the Michigan Duck Rescue and Sanctuary. I began following this worthy organization in South Lyon, Michigan where Matt and his wife Theresa, plus a team of volunteers, will go anywhere, at any time of the day/night to rescue waterfowl, mostly ducks. The Sanctuary is a big barn and pond and home to hundreds of waterfowl, mostly those born with birth defects, or wounded and sadly, domestic ducks that are tossed out like yesterday’s trash when they have grown out of their cute duckling stage.
I learned about Matt and Theresa’s sanctuary after two large, light-brown ducks were nuzzling my knees for treats as I made my way along the perimeter path back in December 2019. I took pictures and sent them to Matt and he told me they were domestic Khaki Campbell ducks and obviously abandoned. He told me to call him immediately the next time I saw them and someone would come rescue them. I never saw them again and worried for their welfare throughout that bitter cold Winter.
I also reached out to Matt after our duckling rescue from the sewer last year when Mama Mallard waddled off without counting her ducklings and one was still squeaking and peeping in the sewer. After this duckling’s eventual rescue, Matt was happy to take this little girl and a volunteer came to pick her up.
So, while I walked around the perimeter path on Labor Day weekend, it piqued my interest why a young man was sitting on a park bench, lost in thought, a blue tub nearby and a pair of oversized ducks waddling around him. I suspected he was not taking his ducks on an outing, but was preparing to leave them there. Should I approach him and tell him about Matt? I knew I should not assume anything, nor did I want to insult him by suggesting he would abandon these ducks. The young man left the park bench and walked along the pathway, his ducks waddling behind him, clearly enjoying their outing and happy for the change of pace. People were whipping out their phones as he walked by, snapping shots of the ducks, me included. I stopped him and asked what their names were – the Rouen (brown female) was Maria and the Blue Swedish Duck (large gray/white/black male) was Benjamin. He told me he had to get rid of these ducks which were pets that he had since they were ducklings, because neighbors were complaining of the noise and mess. I gave him Matt’s contact info and he pulled up the site on his phone. He said he thought of taking them to the Petting Farm at Heritage Park, but had not yet made up his mind. They followed him to the parking lot and he placed them carefully into the tub. I’ll have some pictures of those happy-go-lucky ducks for Wordless Wednesday.
I sent Matt a Facebook message and the ducks’ photos and asked him to let me know if/when they were at his place – not yet as of this writing and I stopped at Heritage Park last weekend, but they are not there yet either.
Nuttin’ Honeys …
Thankfully my Nuttin’ Honeys are still there … as is Mr. Hawk, a fact which disturbs me greatly.
Henry, one of the regular walkers, stopped to tell me he saw a huge hawk swoop down one morning and three squirrels ran for their lives successfully evading the raptor. I caution my little buddies to watch their backs and stay under the pavilion or Safe Haven Tree or to dash into the bushes where I leave a pile of sunflower seeds and peanuts nearby, but, because they are already in gathering-and-burying mode as to any peanuts doled out, who am I to suggest that running clear across the grassy “donut hole” to bury a peanut for Winter, rather than enjoying it on the spot, is not a great idea due to the watchful eyes of Mr. Hawk?
I hope to never see a hawk snatch up a squirrel in its talons.
I wanted to take pictures of the Safe Haven Tree as the branches almost hit the ground. To me, it seems like a little fortress – it is impenetrable to raptors like the hawk. The Jays, Chickadees, Cardinals and Woodpeckers land up top, then hop down to gorge on treats.
For me, that convenient side opening, allows my easy access to make the “drop” and scurry out again. I did not take pruning shears with me – it just happened to grow like that with an opening. Once under the canopy of the tree, look inside how roomy this area is, just waiting for hungry birds and squirrels to dine.
Soon, the leaves will begin to turn and fall leaving the tree bare, but its sturdy branches will still tickle the ground and no hawk is going to go inside.
The moderate drought we had for most of July rendered the grass yellow and crispy to walk on. Just like the yellow-toned grass, the rest of the landscape has been a bit wishy-washy and devoid of color. The few Spring Beauties wildflowers I photographed under the trees that line the Ecorse Creek are long gone and Chicory …
… complemented by Queen Anne’s Lace have taken its place.
The Goldenrod lights up the pathway with splashes of color and the Sumac leaves along the Creek side of the Park were blotchy red in spots with the bright-red flower springing out of the leaves – that was it for color.
There were less thistles this year which translated to less goldfinches flitting around. I missed their cheery song. Even Rex-the Red-bellied Woodpecker has been scarce and I suspect he’s happier to see me when his live grubs are no longer available, so peanuts, sunflower seeds, even woodpecker suet will become his go-to treat once again.
A black squirrel scurried across the field and I shoved my hand into the peanut bag to call out to him, then jiggled a few peanuts in my palm. But my little pal rebuffed me and got a firmer grip on a black walnut still in the husk that he clenched between his teeth.
I only learned about these “tree treats” a few years ago and still don’t know what Park tree tenders these squirrel goodies. I do see piles of green on the trail where squirrels have chewed off the rind to get the prize nut inside. So, this black squirrel saw me and realized it should take its prize “to go” lest I try to grab it. I was only interested in grabbing a photo and waited patiently for that squirrel to settle into the tree to chomp on the treat. I liked what I saw.
But, after he finished that walnut, he was looking for peanuts and sunflower seeds, as you see below as he shimmies down the tree …
Below, a Robin suddenly appeared (looking almost like a ghostly apparition). It seemed inquisitive while wondering “is Linda passing out worms today?”
An Eastern Gray squirrel decided going headfirst down the tree could guarantee a peanut for its effort.
I brought along some whole almonds – I’d rather not break my teeth on them; the squirrels grow new teeth all the time. They were given the sniff test, then promptly scarfed down.
Yellow Poplar leaves litter the perimeter path. Falling face down, they remind me of little hearts. But these little hearts have jagged tears in them – climate change infiltrating my little nature nook? It seems crumpled Poplar leaves as early as mid-August have become the norm now. Remember that I have been walking here for a decade, so have become accustomed to seeing which trees drop their leaves first.
Just one picture of a young Fox squirrel – you can tell the young squirrels from their skinny tails. If you ever saw a picture of a “kit” or baby squirrel, they are just about an inch long, weighing one ounce with a skinny tail that resembles a mouse tail. Mom nurtures her hairless, pink babies who have their eyes closed for about two months. So these little guys are easy to recognize. I think Mom tells them the “safe humans” to approach and I feel honored they finally approach me after turning back initially. They know I am not the lady who walks around with a golf club if any squirrel gets near her. I’ve remarked to her that the squirrels mean no harm and are simply begging for peanuts as people indulge them, but I am insulted for my thoughts, so happily I have only seen her once this season.
I will be writing a separate post about a baby squirrel here at Council Point Park, an event that occupied my thoughts on the Friday before the Labor Day holiday and Saturday as well. I took a slew of photos and there will be a tale to be told, with videos from a fellow walker, so that will be next Monday’s post. Well, I saved the best for last – the splooting squirrels. It was very hot over Labor Day weekend and several squirrels were stretched out, like frogs, letting the cool asphalt path or grass cool down their little bodies. I admit the first time I saw this happen a few years ago, it was disturbing.
Hope you enjoyed this potpourri of Park photos taken over Labor Day weekend