Primping for Spring’s arrival.

Today is the first day of Spring!

The arrival of Spring with its balmy temps plus teensy shoots and delicate blooms making their annual debut, is always a delight in a four-season state. Midwesterners wistfully long for Spring deep in the heart of Winter. We had such a mild Winter season that many times it felt like late March – in fact, the temps were up and down, as much as a 30-degree difference in 24 hours’ time. Yikes – it was almost as bad as the stock market these days.

Though COVID-19 has obliterated most of our normal day-to-day activities, nature and Spring’s arrival are still here for us to enjoy.

Splish-splash I was taking a bath.

It’s time for us humans to shed our multiple layers of bulky clothing and start primping a bit in anticipation of warmer weather. But in the meantime, take a look at these waterfowl doing their daily ablution. For them, this polar plunge, then preening their feathers to distribute the oil, was a guarantee to keep their feathers waterproofed and bodies insulated during the cold Winter days. Waterfowl preen all day long, all year long, but it’s especially important in Winter.

On the morning I took these pictures, it was the second of three trips to Dingell Park on the Detroit River in my quest for Bald Eagle shots that I’ve been writing about. On February 21st, I stole down to the riverfront and shivered in the 14F (-10C), with a real-feel of 8F (13C) temps, with wind gusts to 14 mph (22 kph). Brrr! I got there at 8:00 a.m. as I wanted time to get photos, as well as stop at Council Point Park which is just about five minutes away. It was a work day, so I had to hustle.

Patience is a virtue.

I layered up and wore two pair of gloves, then parked myself at a primo spot in the pavilion area … primo because I was the only person (stupidly) standing there shivering at the River’s edge. I was wearing a puffy down coat (hoping the geese and ducks didn’t see any of those white downy feathers which always seem to escape through the material – I wouldn’t want them to think less of me that I was enjoying a little warmth at their ancestors’ expense). 🙂

However, as cold and frosty as that Friday morning was, the various waterfowl just rolled with it. As mentioned above, as long as the shorebirds are able to take a polar plunge and then preen to distribute the oil throughout the feathers, that oil acts as a water repellent and helps them plunge into those chilly waters without freezing their feathery butts off.

Just chillin’.

The sun was shining brightly, illuminating the pavilion area. I watched the seagulls; some were still roosting, standing on one leg, others kept one sleepy eye closed and watched me with the other. They were huddled together on the ice – my heart went out to them. I decided to use the seagulls’ photos yesterday for Wordless Wednesday and I am sure you could share their pain. There was ice where the seagulls congregated, but in the cove area, the current is strong and there was no ice, just frigid water.

Polar plunge.

The Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks were busy – they were not chowing down on any fish, nor reeds, but it was bath time. I always enjoy watching any bird taking a bath, whether it is the little squirts in a birdbath, a robin enjoying a morning spritz in a homeowner’s sprinkler or even a puddle in the street, to the waterfowl splashing in the chilly waters of a local creek or river setting. When I had my canaries, I bought them several types of bathtubs, all which they turned their noses (er, … beaks) up at, instead favoring their water cup to bathe in. They dived, dipped and then shook their feathers, in a cleaning-and-preening ritual like many generations of birds before them. We always had birds as pets and the budgies/parakeets loved their daily bath time. One parakeet would hop into his bathtub, then look at himself in his mirror afterward and clear as a bell Skippy would declare “he’s a pretty bird!” (My mom taught him to say that – he was not THAT infatuated with his appearance.)

First up … Ms. Mallard (no rubber ducky needed here).

Next, the Canada Geese … BTW, not a honk or a hiss while they primped.

I guess that gander liked what he saw in the water – look how nicely he posed for me.

Hope I gave you a little smile for today. Stay safe everyone.

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Shiver on the River #Wordless Wednesday #Hey Mum: My bum and toes are cold!

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

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I discovered a new waterfront park. *

… *well, new for me – it has been in existence for 25 years!

The experience of discovering a new nearby park reminded me of my first trip to my favorite nature nook, Council Point Park. In May 2013, my radio station had been touting the week-long festivities commemorating the 250th anniversary of Chief Pontiac’s council, a big event in this neck of the woods way back on April 27, 1763. I was curious, but first, I had to Google exactly where this place was. Our City has 19 parks, some bigger than others. Imagine my surprise that it was just a mile away, with a residential district on one side, and the Ecorse Creek, with its treasure trove of waterfowl, turtles, frogs and fish on the other side. It had been in existence since 1994! I always said it was serendipity which led me to this little gem.

Now, as to my latest discovery, I’d say that I need stronger eyeglasses, but truthfully, I’ve passed by the AREA many times and just thought it was a golf course. I didn’t realize the golf course, known as Wyandotte Shores, was actually part of 85 acres of land that was donated by BASF Corporation, (a local chemical company), and this entire recreational area was built on recovered land that was once chemically toxic. Before I visited BASF Waterfront Park, I learned that in its heyday, this site was once used for shipbuilding, steelmaking and other heavy industrial uses. The process of decontaminating the highly toxic soil was coordinated by the City of Wyandotte, BASF and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

This discovery of BASF Waterfront Park, was quite by accident. Last week I was Googling around to see how long the boardwalk was at Bishop Park for an upcoming post, and, while I could not find that information, there was mention made of BASF Waterfront Park. (Hmm – where was that park I wondered?)

Just a few mouse clicks later and I had my information. This park is just 0.8 of a mile away from Bishop Park where I go all the time. “No way!” was my first, rather defiant, response. “I’ve passed that way lots of times and never saw a park!” So I mapped it out, to travel by foot, finding it really was a stone’s throw away from Bishop Park.

Must. See. This. Place.

So, my Saturday morning agenda was complete and I hoped I would gain five miles toward my steps tally before returning home.

I bopped over to Council Point Park to feed the critters and walked a mile there, then down to Dingell Park to look for eagles. I was a woman on the move!

Next, I drove 2½ miles to Bishop Park. It was still chilly, but an absolutely gorgeous and sunny morning. The sun beamed down on the water making it sparkle and people were strolling on the boardwalk, drinking coffee and gazing at the boaters who were whizzing by. Seagulls, caught up in the increased human activity along the boardwalk, alternately screeched and swooped precariously close to strollers’ heads and perched on the railings, hoping to garner a bite of breakfast, as if to say “how ‘bout a hunk of donut for this hungry shore bird?” Nobody obliged them unfortunately, so the incessant screeching and swooping continued.

I took some pictures, then wended my way along the business district on Biddle Avenue.

Unbelievably, I was there in about 10 minutes

I didn’t know how to gain access to the riverfront right away, and was in no hurry anyway, so I just meandered down the first concrete pathway I saw. This pathway took me into a memorial garden. Unlike most parks where people honor their loved ones by purchasing a tree and accompanying memorial plaque, these memorials were identical black vertical poles with a small black square with the deceased’s name and birth/death dates or a heartfelt message.

Some markers were near trees which had been festooned with items such as rustic-looking metal angels, wooden hearts, recent holiday décor and some had left a rosary or memento, even their loved one’s picture.

It was a memorable walk through this little garden area.

There are sculptures in the park – this bronze artwork is one of them and is entitled “Looking Forward” by artist John Pappas and was donated as a sesquicentennial gift to the City in 2000. I decided to take a photo of just a portion of the statue in the foreground in order to highlight the golden, as-yet-unfurled leaves of the willow tree in the background.

Next, I continued walking toward the riverfront. There are walkways that run parallel to the Detroit River, but it is not a river walk per se. There is a rocky shoreline and there are multiple overlooks which jut out over the Detroit River. You can stand there and view the entire shoreline all the way to downtown Detroit – that was easy to do since it was such a clear day.

Despite the sun, some snow remained …

… but a little snow along the shoreline did not deter the fisherman out for their catch of the day.

Geese and seagulls filled the skies … along with a contrail.

I meandered a little longer and saw the golf course …

… as well as checking out the Wyandotte Boat Club, closed down for the season, but where I have since learned that the regattas for the local rowing clubs take place in late April and May.

The riverfront looked a little more exciting than the parks which are drab and not that scenic these days. With the exception of the beautiful old willows in Elizabeth Park, and here at BASF Waterfront Park, the ochre-colored grass and lack of colorful wildflowers or berries make for a blah background. I’ll return to all the large parks in another month or so when everything has awakened.

I started making my way back to the car, but the brilliant sun and blue sky just made it difficult to think of returning home. So, I figured I’d wander around downtown Wyandotte and enjoy the bustling business district a bit.

With the camera in tow, I felt a little touristy

Downtown Wyandotte has always been a hopping place. Some restaurants, clothing stores and art galleries have been mainstays for years, while many bistros, coffee shops, eateries and boutique businesses have come and gone. One of my favorite events is the annual Street Art Fair and Sidewalk Sale every July, though it has been over a decade since I’ve attended it.

There is a fun and artsy-fartsy flair to Wyandotte, like the 36-foot cedar, hand-carved totem pole donated to the City by Wyandotte Savings Bank when that bank celebrated its 100th anniversary; in the second photo you can see the original bank.

Then there’s the huge Merrill Lynch trademark logo bull. This 650-pound statue was created by artist, Keith Coleman in 2005. It sits on the corner of Biddle Avenue and Oak Streets. Its weathered rust finish has been created by salvaged water heater cores.

I took a few more street shots (all the while feeling like fellow blogger Yvette who fills her posts with street photography).

What stopped me in my tracks was looking across bustling Biddle Avenue and seeing what looked like igloos (or miniaturized Expo ‘67 spheres). I took a long-distance shot …

… then, because I was curious, (just like the proverbial cat), I crossed the street to Bobcat Bonnie’s restaurant to investigate. Well, this was my first time to see what I learned was “igloo dining” which is an experience where up to 10 guests can dine in a heated, decorated dome. There were comfy wool blankets and knitted afghans on the seats and with the sun beaming down, I am guessing the experience would be almost like a hothouse in Wintertime – how fun!

Wyandotte is kinda kitschy too.

A few shop windows along the way made me stop for some shots …

Even McDonald’s has some sculpture …

And what about this door handle, or the Flowering Kale still thriving in the planter’s box?

Just before I turned off Biddle Avenue, I passed a bar known as Whiskeys on the River – this old-time car has been parked alongside the bar for years (not sure if it’s been since 1929 though).

Many hours had passed while I was walking and enjoying four parks and the heart of Wyandotte. By the time I got home, I’d put almost six miles on my feet and collected about 300 photo images in the camera.

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Grumpy Goose #Wordless Wednesday #Gander got his dander up

Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story.

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I was rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the River.

I thought I’d take a little creative license and tweak John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” lyrics just a tad for the title of this blog post. I know that song will be an earworm for you the rest of the day now. I prefer the Tina Turner version myself.

It’s been over a month since I took this trek and captured some images along the Detroit River – it was on Groundhog Day, February 2nd. I wanted to stay outside as long as I could to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the predicted 54F (12C) temperature later in the day, but when I stepped outside in the early morn, it was a little chilly, so I scurried back inside to grab a heavier jacket since I’d be down on the waterfront.

This was a three-park day on that gorgeous Sunday, with the first stop taking the longest, at Council Point Park. I was only going to stay about an hour at that venue, but, you may recall, on that trek I spent considerable time mesmerized by the Canada Goose, who was not grazing on grass, nor scamming the squirrels’ peanuts, but wrangling a fish. I was able to take a series of photos of the goose with its prize; in case you missed the post, just click here.

It was a Sunday stroll to savor.

After leaving Council Point Park, I drove to Bishop Park in Wyandotte. Wyandotte is a fairly cosmopolitan city and its business district and many eateries are found in close proximity to this riverfront park. Once warmer weather arrives, there are many events in the areas adjacent to the waterfront like fireworks, street fairs, parades and the like. Bishop Park is not a large park, just 12.2 acres, but has a veterans memorial, small playground, pavilion and picnicking amenities. Its boardwalk stretches just about one city block, so it’s not a place you’d go to bulk up on steps for your walking regimen. Bishop Park’s biggest draw is the scenic view of big freighters as they glide past Hennepin Point and sometimes pass one another on the horizon. The kayakers come to the launch area on sunny Summer days.

The wooden pier, which juts out over the Detroit River, is a favorite spot for anglers and home to the City’s Annual Fishing Derby which has occurred the first Saturday in June for over three decades.

But on this morning, surprisingly, just a handful of folks were Sunday strolling. Perhaps they would gather once the temps warmed up later in the day. It was kind of windy and I was mindful of those occasional gusts as the wind buffeted me a few times while I walked along the pier and riverfront. I was grateful for the guard rails as I watched waves leaping up and lapping against the seawall, even though not a single boat was in sight. You can see the flags flapping in the stiff breeze.

If you close your eyes while here at the Detroit River’s edge, the shrieking seagulls could make you think you are walking along a beach shoreline and not just a block away from a bustling business district. Surprisingly the seagulls were absent though. In the Summer, the bold and brazen seagulls have been known to swipe a hot dog or hamburger bun right off someone’s BBQ grill at Bishop Park. Then yelling, or maybe a little swearing ensues, something like “hey wait a minute – come back with that! … um, maybe not – I guess it’s yours Bud.”

The sun was shining brightly for the first time in several weeks, and even I, the ultimate weather worrier, had to concede that maybe the two Groundhogs, the infamous Punxsutawney Phil and Woody, Michigan’s female woodchuck, (whose predictions are more accurate than Phil’s), were spot on in their early Spring prediction. “How nice if the snow and bitter cold were done for the season” I thought. As the sun got stronger and brighter, I knew I would savor this little “Spring Fling” should Winter make a return visit, so I would indeed “seize the day” as that expression goes. I even unzipped my coat as suddenly it seemed unbelievably and uncomfortably warm, despite the strong winds.

Enamored of eagles.

After departing Bishop Park, I walked around downtown Wyandotte a little, then headed to Dingell Park, just about 2½ miles away. The beautiful day had brought a few fishermen to this riverfront venue, as well as spectators with binoculars pressed up against their eyes and photographers toting tripods and long lenses. All gathered silently at the boardwalk, hoping for a glimpse of, or a perfect shot of, a Bald Eagle.

The pavilion area juts out a little over the cove. Sometimes the cove area, with its rocky shoreline and extremely clear water, may be teeming with Canada Geese, Mallard and Canvasback Ducks and Seagulls; even the occasional Mute Swan or Great Blue Heron will put in an appearance to the delight of children and adults.

But the main attraction every year, mostly in January and February, are the Bald Eagles that live in the trees on Mud Island, one of the collection of many small, uninhabited islands that are part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and the northernmost island of the Refuge.

Oh, to soar like an eagle

I’ve visited Dingell Park when a heavy ice covering had multiple shorebirds riding on the ice floes and I blogged about it. It was fun to watch them on the ice as it clinked against the seawall and the floes bounced into one another. But, enjoyable as the waterfowl may be, the crowd is not there to see them, but the big prize, the eagles which dip and dive through the skies as they exit the trees to scope out fish in the Detroit River. Sometimes those eagles will swoop down, talons extended, to grab a silvery shad, or, depending on the amount of ice on the Detroit River, those eagles will perch on an ice floe and simply study any open water for a sign of life. If you go to Dingell Park on Facebook, the site is full of eagle photos every January and February and other waterfowl throughout the year. Here is the link if you care to see them – trust me, my eagle photos will likely never make it to this informal Facebook site.

By late Spring/early Summer the Walleye run makes it difficult to get to this park on a weekend. Pickup trucks with their hitches line West Jefferson Avenue, boats jam the waterways and anglers are elbow-to-elbow at riverfront piers all along the Detroit River, as local fishermen and even those from across the country, come to the annual Walleye run.

While I didn’t get any great eagle shots (or none good enough to satisfy my eagle quest for my 2020 Photo Bucket List), if you scrunch up your face and squint at the pictures just the right way, you’ll find eagles in my shots below.

Post script: I returned again on February 21st and the eagles must’ve slept in. A trip to the riverfront yesterday yielded the very last eagle shot, albeit a bit blurry. Something tells me you have to be in the right place at the right time .

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Winter is for the Birds; my 2020 Photo Birdie Bucket List.

With near-tropical temps on the horizon for Sunday, I thought I’d better hurry and do this post about the birds I encountered in frosty February, as well as my 2020 Birdie Bucket List.

I scored a few lucky shots of birds this Winter.

At my favorite park I saw this bird (believed to be a Kinglet) on a frosty cold day – see how it is fluffed up, a/k/a “floofy” (another newfangled bird word like “chonky” which I shared last week). As frigid as it was on this morning, this fellow was singing away. I was surprised that puffs of condensation were not coming from its beak – poor little bird.

I also was ecstatic to finally snag a few photos of the male Red-Bellied Woodpecker at Council Point Park and I captured these shots on a gloriously sunny day with a bright-blue sky.

Every morning, Mr. Woodpecker is either making a loud screechy noise or drilling its long and pointed beak into a decayed tree. Just check out the damage this woodpecker has done!

He’s not only creating small cavities in the tree, but also looking for grubs – I hate to tell you Bud, but the grubs are still asleep. Occasionally the woodpecker will come down to ground level to grab a peanut, but Sunday was apparently “Drilling Day” for this guy. Regardless of how he is decimating this tree, isn’t he a beautiful bird?

I caught a glimpse of my first male Red-Winged Blackbird last weekend, though I’d been hearing the calls for about a week. Though this bird was shy and kept his back turned, I was happy to at least get a shot of his colorful “epaulets” for this post.

Back to Birdie Nirvana

I made a return trip to Elizabeth Park to the feeder station, hoping to get more up-close shots of the visitors to that tree and memorial stone. It was a poor showing that morning, except for a White-Breasted Nuthatch …

… and a cute Black-capped Chickadee.

Do you make lists? I make ‘em and have for years, whether they are a handful of items jotted down if I’m running errands, or the perpetual New Year’s Resolutions. I even made a list of items I wanted to accomplish over the Winter 2019-2020, since the weather forecast called for a brutally cold and extra-snowy season. Ha ha – happily that wicked Winter wallop did not happen and yes, I am mindful that we often get snow in April. We are way behind on our snowfall this season, though we’ve had lots of rain and freezing rain, which is worse than snow in my opinion.

So, just ask me how many items I have fulfilled in the latter two to-do lists? Wait … don’t ask. The house is still cluttered, my exercise bike goes unused since I walked more than expected and the art supplies/how-to books to begin sketching again, following the interpretive walk/sketching event last year, remain untouched. They’ll likely get deposited into the “things-to-do-when-retired” Rubbermaid tote downstairs. Even the stockpile of books I anticipated reading during the predicted horrendous Winter season languish in the drawer, taking up still more space and creating additional clutter. Where was the woman who wanted to read one book a month? Or twenty books in 2020? Hmmm.

But one list I’ve created since turning the calendar page to March, is my 2020 Photo Bucket List. This photo bucket list, for me, is an annual ritual (even if I never seem to accomplish it). Sadly, I no longer have fellow-walker Mike scoping out Dingell Park to alert me when the swans take their cygnets on a piggyback ride, or, when those sweet ducklings toddle down to the river’s edge for their first clumsy paddle and swimming lessons from Mom.

I do follow the Facebook pages of various parks in my area to see the local photographers’ discoveries at these venues. In Spring 2019, based on local photographers’ shots, I hustled up to Heritage Park twice looking for cute-and-fuzzy ducklings streaming in a neat row behind Mama Mallard, but had no success either time.

So let’s have a look at what I’m setting my sights on this year.

I spent many hot and humid mornings at Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens trying to get a picture of a hummer sipping nectar from the abundance of beautiful blooms. There were butterflies galore, however … not a single hummingbird.

Last year, the local Detroit Audubon site reported an influx of Bluebirds and Baltimore Orioles in the Downriver area. I’ve yet to see a Bluebird, despite a kind soul and avian lover who hung several wooden nesting boxes for them at Lake Erie Metropark. When strolling through the ‘hood, I’ve seen no Bluebirds, nor at my favorite nature nook either. These pretty blue birds with the rosy red breasts, relish mealworms – does that mean I need to carry a Ziploc bag of them to have the Bluebird of Happiness grace me with its presence?

I saw one colorful, orange-and-black Baltimore Oriole at Council Point Park and it was its strong song, not the plumage, which made me glance up to a nearby tree. Before I could grab the camera, it was gone. I know the Oriole delights in oranges – perhaps I need to carry a clementine or two with me, though Orioles prefer their treat halved and jammed into a holder, not segmented like you and I enjoy our oranges or clementines.

As to waterfowl and raptors

Though I’ve seen many Mute Swans (which are considered invasive in our state), I’ve yet to see them with their offspring. I’ve heard the Trumpeter Swans overhead. Their wing-flapping alerts me to their presence by a loud humming noise, but they pass by so fleetingly that I am unable to get a good shot of them and they never land to graze.

Likewise, the Canvasback Ducks congregate at Dingell Park. I’ve often seen photos posted on that park’s Facebook page of a contingent of Canvasbacks with their unique rust, black and white plumage. I saw one of these beauties in the cove area, but it was so far away it was difficult to tell the species.

And every year I am on the prowl to glimpse and take a photo of an owl. Fellow blogger and bird lover Sandra and I recently agreed that owls were on our perpetual photo bucket lists. Well Sandra’s wish came true earlier this week when she spotted a Burrowing Owl in Florida, in the middle of the day and at ground level. Click here to check out Sandra’s find.

Last year a Snowy Owl was making its presence known at Belle Isle and in Downtown Detroit, as well as frequenting local marshy areas like Pointe Mouillee. So, on a cold January day, I traipsed around Point Mouillee, hoping to see this beautiful white owl, which, because it typically hunts by day, coupled with different migrating patterns, was photographed at that venue on several occasions. Unfortunately, I didn’t glimpse the Snowy Owl that day (or any time thereafter) and, when I reported my abysmal owl search in that day’s blog post, Joe, a fellow from the ‘hood, and also a follower of this blog, sent me a shot of a cute owl he spotted mid-day perched in an evergreen tree at the local DPS just a mile away. I’ve yet to find a Great Horned Owl at Elizabeth Park on my many treks there, though fellow blogger Pril suggested I might fulfill my quest there – nope, no success yet. Perhaps they are hiding from me? (And no, I refuse to carry a mouse to entice it from the treetops.)

So, no owl in the wild, but I saw a rehabbed owl last year at Oakwoods Metropark. He sat motionless in his cage, not even emitting a single “hoooooo” to my greeting of “how are you?”

Likewise, in the past two years I’ve gone to the prime viewing sites for migrating raptors and the best I could do was to get a meh shot of a homely Turkey Vulture. Oh, I’ve seen plenty of Cooper’s Hawks or “Chicken Hawks” as some folks call them – they circle overhead while I’m at Council Point Park. My first encounter was when one tried to nab “Stubby” (the resident squirrel with half his tail missing, thus his moniker), within seconds after he scurried over to my feet to gobble up peanuts which I had just placed onto the path. Stubby escaped with his life by diving under a picnic table in the pavilion area and the hawk flew over to the high fence, fixing his glare on my furry friend. I’m sure my heart was beating as furiously as Stubby’s, as I would have made him a sitting duck had the hawk snatched him. A few months ago I was driving and an adult Cooper’s Hawk suddenly swooped down from a tree and headed for my windshield – it was scary! That hawk dived down, then turned with its large wings as I steered sideways to avoid it. I’m no fan of these birds of prey who seek to make a meal of the small songbirds, or even the squirrels, and this hawk must have sensed my vibes about it.

Although I can view rehabbed Bald Eagle Luc, in his enclosure at Lake Erie Metropark, I have been diligently trying to see an eagle in a more natural environment. To that end, I’ve visited Dingell Park to stand alongside the photographers with their tripods and lenses as long as my arm. They camp out for hours, hoping an eagle will fly out from uninhabited Mud Island to go fishing in the Detroit River. I am going this weekend, for the third outing there, in a last-ditch attempt for an eagle shot, otherwise I’m going to just post my previous eagle photos and use a red arrow to point them out to you.

And then there are the local backyard birds

I thought I’d participate in the 23rd annual “Great Backyard Bird Count” which took place over Valentine’s Day Weekend. The global bird count encourages ordinary people from around the world to count backyard birds from February 14th through 17th and report on their sightings. I thought it would be fun and blogworthy. After all, I see those Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays when I tender peanuts and sunflower seeds here at the house and the Park. On Sunday the 16th, I took the time to spread out extra treats on the sidewalk, then stood patiently by, hoping to count several birds to make my contribution, not to mention getting a few shots of these photogenic birds. Well they slept in I guess. I put the camera away, muttered to myself as I went to take the car out of the garage, then peeked at the side of the house before departing, only to discover multiple cardinals and jays chowing down – grrrrr. My bird count was so abysmal that I didn’t end up participating.

So, will I fulfill my Photo Birdie Bucket List by year-end?

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Sometimes Winter is just (s)no(w) fun …

… until Linda shows up with peanuts.

The weather forecasters were correct this time – Ol’ Man Winter made a return visit, stopping by just long enough to whiten the landscape and put down a layer of ice that made the driveway look like an icy washboard. The two-day event included snow that was blowing and drifting and when it was all done, there was 5 ½ inches of new snow with an icy glaze. I spent each weekday morning shoveling or grumbling about the ice. I’m on the shady side of the street (as to where the sunshine finally hits late in the day, not necessarily the inhabitants of this block), so when we had temps dip down to a “real feel” in single digits, even walking down the sidewalk or driveway was a slick trip.

So, I didn’t walk any weekdays since I ran errands last Monday before the snow event. When the sun melted a wee bit of driveway ice Friday afternoon, I seized that opportunity to get down to Council Point Park Saturday morning. This time the pathway had not fared so well. The City had not plowed so the walking path was still snow-and-ice covered. It was bitter cold and I wondered if I needed to coax the squirrels to ground level and onto the grass, where snow reached the top of my hiking boots, but where I wisely chose to walk so I didn’t land on my butt.

It sure was pretty though …

Great expectations.

The squirrels were scoping me out from their nests high above … before I would get to them, they had scrambled out of their trees and awaited me, so I almost felt like a celebrity with a passel of adoring fans. 🙂

“Are you coming to me or should I come to you –
what is the proper peanut protocol here?”
“Hey Linda – the snow is up to my knees here – can we go a little faster?”

My furry friends were eager to eat despite the cold and snow and I was able to walk parallel to one loop (the equivalent of one mile) to dole out peanuts and get some photos too.

The snow was high enough to tickle the squirrels’ pale underbellies and appear on their furry faces, so I couldn’t resist pulling the camera out to get a few photos of my peanut pals’ antics and their cute snow-covered noses.

“I rubbed my snout in the snow to look cuter – do I get extra peanuts for doing that?
“I think I’ll pose for Linda though my snowy snout
makes me lose my credibility just a little.”

I needn’t have worried they would not come down from their cozy nests to eat … Parker led the pack of peanut pals …

“Where were you all week?”
Do I smell fresh peanuts? Hurry my tummy is rumbling!
I can smell fresh peanuts a mile away … I’m on it!
Meanwhile … the early bird, er squirrel
has the best selection when another pile of peanuts is dropped.

I picked my way precariously as I needed to step on some of the icy path as I headed back to the pavilion where I left more peanuts and suet, some offerings for later in the day.

The suet offering is for the birds; likely the squirrels will thwart attempts to gain access to it.

I completed my steps by doing a couple of miles in the parking lot, which had been plowed and salted. There was only one other walker and he likewise sidestepped the icy path like I did. I returned yesterday and it was a little better, but not much.

This morning a torrential rain is pounding the snow and ice away and is about thirty degrees warmer than it was on Saturday! Here are a few more of the friendly faces I encountered:

Thank you, thank you, thank you – um, can I go home with you?
“Winter is for the birds, I tell ya …”
Well, looks like even the birds are contemplating going South –
who wants to stick around in this weather?
“Must. Bury. Peanuts. (Just in case Linda doesn’t return again.)”
“My tail is blowing sideways and I’m freezing.
Next time bring along a hat, scarf and mitts okay?”

C’mon Spring!!!!!

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