Maybe my shortest post ever?

Michigan had its worst ice storm in 50 years … I lost my internet sometime in the early morning hours of Thursday. It came back last night after I went to bed … I am going to try and catch up with comments later today and apologize to each of you. Now, I have to feed the critters because on my last trip to the Park the geese ate their food and the geese kept running after me as the squirrels looked helplessly on – fodder for another post – SMH. It snowed yesterday morning and we have another ice storm coming tomorrow morning … who ticked off Mother Nature? Winter (and creepy crawly things) remain the bane of my existence. ~~Linda

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Dempsey the Downy Woodpecker orders from GRUBHUB. #Wordless Wednesday #Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2023 stats

Photos not showing up in Reader , but fine on the site, so I’ll try again … grr


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

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Dempsey the Downy Woodpecker orders from GRUBHUB. #Wordless Wednesday #Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2023 stats

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, Birds,#GBBC,, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 53 Comments

“All Creatures Great and Small” …

… is a PBS miniseries about Dr. Alf Wight’s trials and tribulations as a country veterinarian in the 1930s – 1950s in the Dales of Yorkshire, England. Dr. Wight, who wrote under the pen name James Herriot, authored eight books in this series and the TV program is based on some of them. The final episode of Season Three was last night and I was sorry to see this miniseries end.

I started reading James Herriot’s “All Creatures” series while still a fresh-faced student on the brink of high school graduation in June 1973. I still have two more paperback books in the series to read. They were published in the ’80s and are stored with other books in Rubbermaid tubs in the basement.

Growing up, if anyone asked “what do you want to be when you grow up Linda?” the response was always “a veterinarian” and I didn’t have to think twice. My parents were willing to foot the bill for college for whatever vocation I chose and no matter how long the curriculum, with the stipulation that they would not pay for me to attend school out of state, when there were colleges and universities right here in Michigan. But, even though biology and zoology were seemingly a breeze, I did not excel in the other classes that counted, like chemistry or math, so, after the first year of college I reluctantly switched my major to Mass Communications.

To be honest, my bleeding heart might have left me too wrung out at the end of each workday while dealing with sad tales, or the inevitable bad news to be delivered to pet parents, that their beloved pet could not be saved.

I entitled this post “All Creatures Great and Small” not so much to mention Mr. Herriot and his interesting collection of characters and animals in his stories, but instead, to share these photos of many creatures great and small at my favorite nature nook on a recent morning meander. When the elements are harsh, the Park critters always arrive to dine together amicably, munching silently and refueling for the brutal days ahead. It’s pretty easy to get photos of them as they are reluctant to scurry or fly away until all the treats are gone. While our Winter was rather wacky and warmer than usual this year, we still had a few bouts of cringe-worthy temps for me to worry about my furry and feathered friends.

A walk in the Park that was “no walk in the park” as the saying goes.

On Saturday, January 28th, I set out, on foot, to Council Point Park. It was three days past the snowstorm, the roads looked fairly clear, but we had bone-chilling temps of 25F (-3C) with a real-feel of 15F (-9C) and a very stiff breeze. Yikes!

The previous Tuesday, I’d loaded my furry and feathered friends up with their usual fare of peanuts in the shell and sunflower seeds and I threw in some suet balls for the two resident Woodpeckers. And, as I doled out extra portions at the three stops that I have designated as safe places where the squirrels and birds are protected from predators (hawks), I cautioned them to eat hardy as we had a major Winter storm bringing heavy, ice-laden snow and it may be days before I returned.

Yes, as mentioned above, I worry about the Park critters in the Winter as I feed them all-year around and, although the squirrels are diligent about burying a lot of the peanuts come Fall and I’m sure the Jays and Cardinals, my other peanut-in-the-shell eaters, are caching their stash as well, there is no way to access them in six inches of heavy/wet snow on the frozen ground, or with snow banked up on tree branches.

I arrived about 40 minutes later and happily noted the large parking lot was plowed and salted. I was hopeful the City had taken the smaller plow and cleared the walking path, but they had not. Grr! They had, however, driven a truck around the two walking loops, making deep ruts, which was better than nothing, but those ruts were icy and dicey. The two walking paths remained in abysmal shape as we had two bouts of freezing rain after the snowstorm and, only because we reached Spring-like temps a week later, did those treacherous trails become “walkable” again.

I was there on a mission – to feed the masses

… so I just grit my teeth and stepped onto the path. Others had been here before me as you see from the footprints, but I was alone on this frigid morn – no one else was that crazy to walk here I guess. You can see the glaze on top of the snow, courtesy of the freezing rain. There were snow drifts as well – lovely!!

My arrival is usually heralded by the lookout Blue Jay who screeches his head off to alert his brethren that “The Peanut Lady” has arrived. Then that Blue Jay makes a beeline over to a perch where he/she can safely swoop down and steal the peanuts from under the squirrels’ noses. Often the Jays follow me from tree to tree scoping out my every move. The Cardinals are not THAT bold and brazen. The Chickadees show up, eager to scam sunflower seeds. The squirrels begin to scamper over to see me with open arms, er … paws. I know, of course, it is not my charming personality that lures them, but it is nice to feel the love anyway. 🙂

I hope the snowy snoots and squirrels huddling together convey, without further description, just how cold it was on that freezy-breezy day.

Is there anything more desolate looking than this park bench with snow all around? This is the same park bench where Parker was playing peekaboo in the last post.

With my heavy hiking boots …

… I stomped out an area to lay out the treats at each stop, like this.

Shall I take you home with me? You look positively miserable!

Look at this Fox Squirrel crouched on a tree branch. Had he/she been napping? Or trying to stay warm?

I called out to my furry friend. Wow – the epitome of roly-poly, right? Mother Nature provides my little buddies with an extra fat layer and heavier fur for the Winter months.

But after I spread out some peanuts, it scrambled down to ground level lickety-split and took some peanuts “to go” – here it is back up in the tree …

… and then it shot me a look as if to say “hey, I’m okay, no worries!”

Dark-eyed Juncos.

I managed to snag quite a few shots of Dark-eyed Juncos, a type of Sparrow, that are ground feeders and were eager to feast on sunflower seeds, alongside the regular songbirds. Because of the snow, all you see is the top part of their body, their white tummies blending in with the snow.

The Dark-eyed Juncos are fairly new to this venue.

A not-so-timid Mrs. Cardinal marched toward the goodies.

A little sunshine, even ineffective sunshine, would have been welcome, but there was none and besides being uncomfortably cold, the sky remained gray and gloomy. Even if you cannot see the olive drab color of this female Cardinal, I am sure you recognize the familiar crest in her silhouette.

While usually wary of me, she allowed me to get close to her.

The Mourning Doves, also with a very recognizable silhouette, joined the breakfast table for sunflower seeds as well …

… as did a sweet Chickadee.

I was sorry that Rex, the Red-bellied Woodpecker swooped down to snatch a peanut and due to the frigid temps the camera’s flash didn’t fire fast enough and all I got was a snippet of that vibrant plumage and bright-red head.

The squirrels had no inhibitions.

The younger Fox squirrels and the smaller gray and black squirrels sometimes wait for me to leave the area before lunging for peanuts. But, in these brutal temps, it was no time to be shy, scared … or polite.

I’ve lumped the squirrels from all three spots together. I had lots of photos – it was difficult to cull out my favorite, but it has to be this resourceful, cutie pie Eastern Gray Squirrel who stuffed multiple peanuts in his mouth and paws.

Here are a few more snowy-snooted furry friends in the slideshow below:

It was cold this past weekend too, especially Saturday. I was happy to see all the corncobs I left on Thursday morning, before this latest freezing rain event moved in, were all gone, probably dragged up to their respective nests for a late-night snack. It was warmer yesterday as I embarked on a walk at this Park and did my Great Backyard Bird Count which I’ll report on in a separate post.

Spring arrives in 27 days … well, on the calendar anyway. No telling what kind of weather we’ll be having then as we are promised “the real Winter” is yet to come, no matter what Woody, Michigan’s woodchuck weather prognosticator, predicted on February 2nd.

Posted in nature, Seasons, walk, walking, Winter | Tagged , , , | 51 Comments

Precocious Parker plays peekaboo. #Wordless Wednesday #Where did you hide my valentine Linda?

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , , , | 77 Comments

This labor of love …

… made its debut one decade ago, on February 11, 2013, so it is time for me to EMBRACE it with this post. What better time to choose to write about your PASSION and labor of LOVE, than in conjunction with the day of hearts a/k/a VALENTINE’S DAY?

A little lookback, a half-century ago (gulp).

After eighteen years of schooling, from kindergarten through college graduation, undoubtedly the class that had the most impact and value for me, was one taken way back in 9th grade, circa 1969. This was a typing class. I believe it was only girls that took this class, as I vividly remember Mrs. Miller, an old-biddy schoolmarm, walking around the room, not just to ensure we sat up straight, fingers precisely poised on the “home keys” but she was adamant that our youthful fingers remained unadorned during her class. Oh … dainty rings were allowed, but back then, the style was clunky, junky and funky-looking rings to be worn on multiple fingers.

So, Mrs. Miller went up and down the aisles to ensure all gaudy jewelry was removed before we even rolled our paper into the platen and began that day’s lesson. Yes, no jewelry would impede our cadence in her class if she had anything to say! So the offending “jewels” were removed and placed in a neat pile next to the typewriter while we pounded out “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” over and over to build up our typing speed.

In later years, with Mrs. Miller long gone and Yours Truly immersed in the workplace, bangle bracelets that banged incessantly on the desk, or charm bracelets laden with trinkets, guaranteed to dangle onto the typewriter keys, or catch onto the platen knob, were problematic, but hey – if you wanted to be stylish, you just dealt with that conundrum, but never removed the jewelry.

Those of you that have never used a manual typewriter can’t fathom what I’m saying. Word processors and wonderful wraparound text was eons away. So, there was a certain rhythm to your typing. You, of course, are used to the featherlight touch of a computer keyboard, but before electric typewriters came on the scene, the manual typewriter required clippin’ along and swinging the carriage return when the bell dinged to signal you were nearing the end of your paper. And, if you were “in the zone” i.e. typing feverishly at top speed, you had to watch your “Ps” and “Qs” because Heaven forbid a long fingernail would embed itself somewhere in between those raised-up keys.

Aah, the good old days (and I won’t even get into how we corrected our spelling boo boos, the misery of calculating footnotes at the bottom of your page and the most-dreaded of all … multiple copies using carbon paper.)

So, in the grand scheme of things, algebra and geometry, the nonsensical diagramming of sentences, or the dreaded dissecting of a frog or fetal pig, were hardly instrumental in my post-education, day-to-day life, but typing … well I wouldn’t be writing this post had I never learned to type!

So, now that we have dispensed with this preamble about the benefits of typing in my formative years, without further ado, I shall now pat myself on the back for my 10th anniversary of beginning WALKIN’, WRITIN’, WIT & WHIMSY.

It’s been quite an evolution this past ten years.

Simply put, I love this quotation by the author of “Little Women” but I didn’t always feel enamored about my blog, especially at the beginning.

Most of you that have followed my posts for a while know how and why I began this blog on a snowy weekend back in February 2013. My mom passed away in 2010 and I had been laid off, a casualty of the Great Recession. After I was hired back part-time in June 2011 and working from home, I realized sitting for hours hunched over the laptop at the kitchen table, then hours more catching up on social media every evening, was taking its toll on my body. Hours of barely moving, with my only exercise of gardening/yardwork and housework, plus, because heart disease runs in the family, I began a walking regimen at Labor Day 2011. My walks grew longer in the various ‘hoods and often expanded to the River’s Edge Marina in Ecorse, where that four-mile morning meander included crossing multiple sets of railroad tracks.

Marge, my neighbor and friend, marveled at my miles racked up and cautioned me to be careful, especially about the railroad track crossings, where I’d look both ways, then sprint across all the tracks. Sometimes, while homeward bound, I didn’t time the train right and stood, tapping my toe for up to a half-hour while it rumbled past me. One day Marge e-mailed me “why don’t you let me know when you’re back from your walk so I know you returned safely?” So I did so as soon as I was online again..

Then Marge encouraged me to tell her what I saw on my ramblings. I accommodated this request as well, sometimes regaling her with a funny tale of birds or squirrels along the way, or people I had chatted-up in my daily travels. Soon Marge was forwarding e-mails of blogs she subscribed to and bugged encouraged me incessantly to write about my adventures and misadventures in a blog. I had never kept a journal as a school exercise or on my own and I certainly didn’t count my pink, pre-pubescent diary with its laughable entries from years before, so I really wasn’t interested and told her so. But Marge was persistent and, because I valued our friendship, I gave her a half-hearted “okay” and set about finding a platform to use for this “blog thing” I had reluctantly agreed to. I chose WordPress from the get-go.

After drafting a 2,162-word post

… about entering the Blogosphere, which I labored over that snowy weekend, I e-mailed it to Marge for her “approval” … “yes, yes!” she said (probably thinking if she said “no” or “I don’t think so” I’d abandon this venture she had thrust upon me). I picked the easiest WordPress theme and my blog began.

February in Southeast Michigan is nothing to write home about, or to write about either. The snowy Winter weather persisted and boots and a shovel became the norm and walking became a distant memory for the time being. With no walks to provide fodder for my blog, I posted a few quotes and half-heartedly eked out a few posts about Winter weather. I would not publish another walking post until March 24th, wherein I whined about the weather and my lack of miles. It took a couple of months before I found my stride, both literally and figuratively, as finally wintry weather waned.

I decided my blogging style would be one short paragraph and a one-word title and, while returning from that day’s walk, I felt the narrative bubbling around in my brain and I’d sometimes struggle for the one perfect word to describe the walk.

Expanding my horizons.

Marge, my first and only subscriber for a looooong time, was happy to receive my tidbits from the trail and then she wanted me to kick it up a notch and strongly nicely suggested I submit my blog to “The Wyandotte Patch” a hyperlocal news site. “Patch” had hyperlocal sites across the nation, all owned, at that time, by AOL. Once again, to appease my friend, I did so and yes, they were happy to have me aboard. I remained there until a few years ago when they changed their platform and picture format i.e. photos could only be horizontal, a certain size and had to be displayed using a gallery style and that did not work out with my picture-laden posts.

Next, Marge relentlessly pushed encouraged me to apply to the Downriver newspaper “The News Herald” to appear on their blogroll. I reported to Marge that they were going to link to my blog as well and she was ecstatic. I was too to be honest. I got a few comments and views directed from the various online newspapers under the umbrella of Digital First Media. The new editor of “The News Herald” (Jason Alley) had previously been the editor of “The Wyandotte Patch” and he had once done an interview about me as he found it amusing I walked more miles than I drove. Here is the interview if you care to read it.) I remained at that publication until just a few months ago. The newspaper went to a paywall in 2022 and while the community blog forum was still available to read for free, I was no longer comfortable detailing my rather predictable walking schedule in this age of crime, so I e-mailed Jason and asked to be removed. To be fair, someone reading about mischievous squirrels and strolling herons, was an unlikely burglar, but ….

It was serendipity that I discovered Council Point Park.

Considering my all-time favorite nature nook is about a mile from my home, how did it take me so long to discover it? I will say I am richer for the experience, but poorer from the peanuts I have doled out over the years. It is all worth it though. I long ago decided on no more pets due to the grief factor, so who doesn’t want to have 50 squirrels and an assortment of birds greeting them as they begin on the perimeter path? Not to mention an adoring (or would that be an adorable??) Parker, my furry friend pictured below.

I heard a story on the radio touting an event at this venue commemorating the 250th anniversary of Chief Pontiac’s council which convened on April 27, 1763 at this location along the Ecorse Creek. There would be teepees and birchbark canoes, so a “must-see” event to blog about, right?

That morning I discovered a gem and I don’t mean the event festivities. A little nature nook tucked away in a residential area with lots of geese and ducks on land and in the water. Squirrels aplenty were scampering around near my feet. I came home, heady with the joy that comes from any nature outing and I knew before my next visit, I was going to the grocery store for peanuts to toss to my new furry friends.

Into the wild we go

I was writing more and often using “Dollar Photo” for images (a buck for each image) to match my posts which were primarily walks to/from the Park and around each one-mile walking path and, with images so readily available, it was easy to crank out a post and publish it the same day (unlike now when I am almost eight months behind blogging about Summer treks). Silly me had not heard about free online photos – I finally got smart a few years later and the rest of the time I used my 4X zoom digital compact camera.

Marge and I went on a few car trips to her favorite local venues on weekends when I had more time and, although frivolous, I bought a second compact digital camera with 12X zoom power and began going on longer treks and taking lots more photos. I still have that camera and it has served me well while taking thousands and thousands of images.

So, in retrospect, Marge was instrumental, not only in encouraging me to start this blog, but I learned to love photography all over again, like I once did when I used to travel in the 70s and early 80s.

Mixin’ and minglin’ while raising $$ for a good cause.

In 2017 I did my first 5k run/walk event. It was held at Council Point Park and was a lot of fun. Since then I have done about a dozen more 5k events; this is the swag from some of them.

As of now, I have booked two 5K events for 2023: “Run for the Trees” and “Fish & Loaves Happy Soles 5K Run/Walk/Bike”. They can be done in person or virtually; for now, I am participating at a venue of your choice within a designated time frame.

I never really thought about the “Blogosphere” as a place to share my thoughts.

Why? Because I was merely writing for my own enjoyment. I look back now and wonder why I was not interested in interacting with other bloggers within WordPress. I enjoyed interacting in a Facebook group of fellow “Patch” bloggers from across the country. But we never commented on each other’s posts per se; we merely shared our most-recent post(s), then commented amongst ourselves in our blogging group.

My friend Ann Marie was the only other person who commented on my blog both before and after Marge’s passing in August 2017. We met at Council Point Park, but she moved to another city, so we haven’t walked together for a while.

Finally, in November 2017, a fellow WordPress blogger with the moniker of “Uncle Tree” commented on a post I wrote about trees and I rather naively asked him how he found me? The rest is history. I have taken screenshots as my followers steadily grew through the years and there were spikes and sometimes lots of views, likely for nature-related tales. Here’s a quick rundown of that journey …

… but please don’t let those numbers above fool you. In reality, there are probably 25-30 bloggers I routinely interact with and some more than others.

My last follower was Linda Lou – we visited each other’s blogs after fellow blogger Ally Bean circulated her 2023 Blogroll and suggested we visit a new blog and “introduce yourself by saying: ‘Ally Bean sent me.’”

If you will please indulge me in one more stat

This is post #1,800. In the Fall of 2022, I computed I’d likely get to this #1,800 stat by my blogiversary with my normal weekly posting schedule of Mondays and (Wordless) Wednesdays. Woo-hoo, I made it!

I have written plenty of words here today and have plenty more words left to say as I write about my joy in the journey. If you made it all the way to here, thank you. Yes, ol’ Bill Shakespeare said “brevity is the soul of wit” so I hope this long post does not make me witless!?

[Photos of the WordPress Scrabble and vintage typewriter and keys are from Pinterest]

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Sunday Strolling. #Wordless Wednesday #Great Blue Heron at Lake Erie Metropark

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, birds, nature, walk, walking | Tagged , , , , , | 71 Comments

Beating the red, white and boom!

First, before I begin to weave my tale about a Sunday stroll at Lake Erie Metropark on July 3rd, it is already the first post of the new month … time to debut the February 2023 calendar page as evidenced above. The locale is Lake Gosauseea, Austria.

Do you agree with this quotation?

As to my unusual blog post title, it was the Fourth of July weekend and I’d received some e-mails and Tweets about the festivities and fireworks extravaganza at my favorite Metropark, starting at 6:00 p.m. on July 3rd. While the miscellaneous and sundry feathered and furry critters at this venue might appreciate any scraps of food that might be left behind, (since all the Metroparks strictly forbid feeding any wildlife), I knew if I wanted to see any critters, I’d best go today because the 10:00 p.m. boomers that night likely would spook every Park critter and they would be no-shows the following morning. I know people use Council Point Park’s parking lot to set off fireworks as evidenced by black powder stains and empty firecracker boxes in the garbage cans on July 5th and I never see any critters the morning after.

On the heels of my trio of Metroparks extravaganza the day before, (Saturday, July 2nd), I decided to visit Lake Erie Metropark. The weather folks had already predicted another hot-and-sticky day. Ugh! And, since I didn’t want slick or greasy substances on my face or fingers while handling the camera, once again, it was extra sun protection by layering up.

The Metroparks website for this venue touts it as“some of the best birding in Southeast Michigan” and little did I know it would live up to its reputation today (or for the rest of 2022 as well). It was a fun day because I got up-close shots of those pretty Barn Swallows and the Osprey home renovation. So, I guess the Metroparks website didn’t lie since later that Summer I would be lucky to see the Sandhill Cranes and a Pied-billed Grebe.

I began, as I usually do, strolling along the three-mile rocky shoreline at Cove Point at the south end of the park. Sometimes that paved pathway is good for a glimpse of a Great Lakes freighter, or the occasional heron perched on one of the many boulders that jut out into Lake Erie.

Checking out the Lotus beds.

I also wanted to check on the progress of the Lotuses. This park is home to the largest and most-accessible American Water Lotus beds in the State of Michigan. While they were “gettin’ there” as you will see below, they usually do not reach their full beauty until late August. But, because we had such a hot and steamy Summer, I returned July 31st and discovered most of the Lotuses were in full bloom. I took a lot of photos of them which will be the topic for an upcoming post.

There are Lotus beds scattered throughout the marshy areas in the park, but the renowned Lotus beds are five acres and two acres, found at Cove Point and the Cherry Island Marsh Trail, respectively.

Here are several views of the largest Lotus bed at Cove Point.

I stood at the wooden overlook scoping out Great Egrets who like to hang out in this little cove-like area. There were no waterfowl here and zero water reflections as the water had a green sheen of algae on it. However, I was lucky to get one shot of a heron wading around in the green goo …

… plus some shots of the Barn Swallows which swoop and dive incessantly, so when a few of them alighted on a branch, seemingly oblivious to me, I was ecstatic. Clicking away as I kept inching closer and expecting them to flee en masse any minute, I can only assume, the heat and their aerial acrobatics made them ready for a rest – my luck. Here is a pair of the Barn Swallows; the rest of them were in this post last year in case you missed it.

I took a few photos of the green goo, but decided to concentrate on less-icky photos, so I focused on cattails, (or maybe you call them bulrushes), along the marshy banks.

The Cherry Island Marsh Trail.

Unbelievably the 1.5 mile/2.4 kilometer Cherry Island Marsh Trail was not soggy, so I was able to walk the entire trail without emerging with mud-stained shoe soles.

It looked like these Mallards found some clear water along the shoreline.

There was some damage to the trees – an over-achieving beetle or wind damage? It didn’t look like a beaver’s handiwork.

These are pond lilies but the tiny green leaves are European Frog-bit, an invasive aquatic plant found throughout the marsh.

Mr. and Mrs. Red-winged Blackbird greeted me in the “Important Bird Area”.

The Lotus leaves were getting big, but no blooms yet. I stopped to take photos at this two-acre Lotus bed along the Cherry Island Marsh Trail.

Across the marsh, still more Lotuses were in the lagoon area near the boathouse.

The marsh areas along this trail were oozing with gooey green slime and in some cases there was no clear area in the entire lagoon.

Wildflowers were popping up everywhere.

There were a few pretty wildflowers here and there, with pops of color from Wild Iris to Wild Phlox and a few others that I did not find in the wildflower book I bought – all of them helped make my trek colorful.

I hoped to see that pretty pregnant doe that gazed at me so intently on my last trip here, June 18th. It would have been wonderful to see her with a fawn or two trailing behind her, but no such luck.

I had the entire park to myself that morning, save for one fellow stroller who, like me, ambled along the Cherry Island Marsh Trail taking in the scenery. That Sunday morning stroller will be revealed in this week’s Wordless Wednesday post since getting one’s extra steps deserves a few accolades don’t you think?

As I headed to the car, I saw an Osprey silently gliding overhead …

… then decided to visit the Brownstown Fire Station located on the fringe of Lake Erie Metropark to check out the Osprey nest. There I saw some serious nest renovation happening. I took a lot of photos of that unusual nest location and shared them in this post in case you missed it.

I’m going to take a small break from large park recaps since next week I’ll do a post to celebrate my 10-year Blogiversary and then I’ll help you think warm thoughts with a bloomin’ good time I had back on July 31st at the Emily Frank Gardens. I’ll return to posting about those Summer jaunts at my favorite haunts once again on February 27th, with a stop at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

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Nature bee amazing sometimes. #Wordless Wednesday #Hmm – is that bee waving at me?

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

Posted in #WildlifeWednesday, #Wordless Wednesday, nature | Tagged , , , , , | 56 Comments

As the crow flies …

… it was a mere eight miles from my last stop at Oakwoods Metropark in the city of New Boston, to Lower Huron Metropark in Belleville. I tootled along a country road and suddenly I was there, having just barely cooled off thanks to the car’s AC on high.

I was ready to hit the trail at my final venue, Lower Huron Metropark, in my July 2nd Parksapalooza event.

On my last trip to this park, I could not believe how big it was (1,258 acres) and it seemed as if I traveled for miles and miles, past countless campsites at the Walnut Grove Campground, before I finally found a place to park and walk.

There is no boat launch area for large boats, but the water trail …

… is often filled with tubers or kayakers. There are small boats with hopeful anglers dotting the Huron River as well as shore fishing. As I drove the length of this park, it was the same situation this time – lots of park visitors with their RVs and tents had claimed coveted spots for this long holiday weekend, seeking a few days away, plus on such a hot weather weekend, enjoying Turtle Cove Waterpark.

Even though I had looked at the park’s site map the night before, I just decided to stop at the same spots as the last time, the North Fishing Site and a portion of the Iron Belle Trail.

Stopping by the North Fishing Site.

As I stepped out of the car, I heard honking above and swiveled my head upward to see five very noisy Canada Geese announcing their arrival to the plane, which photo you see in the header image. Evidently, those geese, with their perpetually bossy attitudes, weren’t going to yield to no stinkin’ airplane, a typical geese mindset, though truthfully, this is an optical illusion and the plane was likely miles away from them. Since I was relatively close to my first stop of the day (Willow Metropark, a mere five miles from here), just like earlier in the day, the sky was still filled with planes winging folks away to their holiday destinations.

I continued to scan the skies as this venue, as it is known for its birds of prey, so I was definitely on the lookout for them.

At the North Fishing Site here on the Huron River, it was calm and peaceful.

There was this humongous tree root which had found its way near the wooden overlook.

A few minutes later I was joined by a friendly young couple with their dog “Buzzy” and we chit-chatted a bit as Buzzy checked me out to ensure I was “safe” and I could stay and visit with his humans. The couple encouraged Buzzy to go for a dip to cool off, but it seemed they were more enthusiastic about their German Shepherd cooling off than Buzzy was, but finally he jumped in – maybe to appease them.

However, when they said “c’mon Buzzy, let’s go” he was not interested in the least. That water had cooled him off and with a newfound stick, he was enjoying paddling more than hiking. When Buzzy was finally convinced to exit the water, he shook vigorously and I swear droplets landed 20 feet away – luckily I had anticipated his vigorous shake and had moved back to keep the camera from getting wet.

Tripping along the Iron Belle trail.

There are a lot of hiking options available as mentioned above – here are some of them.

My last visit to this venue, I hiked along a scenic, paved path with lots of wildflowers, so off I went along a portion of the Iron Belle trail. (Note: “Belle” is spelled incorrectly on the signage.)

Warblers and wildflowers.

Well if I was looking to find some pretty warblers with melodic tunes embedded in those wildflowers or hopping along a wooden fence rail, I was out of luck. Perhaps it was too hot and I missed that opportunity by arriving here in the afternoon.

But, behold this Red-winged Blackbird, that never disappoints with its beauty and distinctive call.

To me, the Red-winged Blackbird is the harbinger of Spring. Nothing signals Spring is on the way more than hearing the first Red-winged Blackbirds’ boisterous calls in the marshy areas that line the Creek at Council Point Park. By mid-March, despite a veil of ice often still covering the Ecorse Creek, suddenly the Red-winged Blackbirds arrive, feet clasped on a weather-beaten cattail or teasel stalk, singing their hearts out, with temperatures so chilly that wispy breaths of air are coming from their beaks. I think of it as “the thrill of the trill.”

The male Red-winged Blackbirds are stunning with their sleek black bodies and bright red and yellow shoulder epaulets, their coloring vivid in the still-bare trees and lackluster landscape. The female Red-winged Blackbird has the same call. The females’ rather dull and drab plumage (sorry ladies) works to their advantage as they nest within the marsh reeds. Both Mama and the nest and eventual nestlings have excellent camouflage as they stay hidden from sight and predator birds.

Oops, what happened here – hopefully everyone fledged safely before this nest landed on the ground.

Pickin’s were slim bird-wise as the male Red-winged Blackbird was the only songbird I saw on my visit to this venue. Evidently the eagles and hawks were smarter than me, as they were likely tucked away in their respective nests, shaded by the tree leaves.

For a few minutes, as I trailed behind this fellow hiker, I had the expectation that he might stop and I’d hear a human singer, or, at the very least, a few guitar chords, but apparently this guy was out for the hike only and not stopping for some R&R any time soon, despite his heavy pack he was toting and the guitar he had strapped on his back.

Well, I didn’t amass a large collection of wildflower photos and it was unlikely I could have made myself a ditch bouquet. This slideshow shows the park’s meager wildflowers I found along the split-rail fence not far from the road.

I liked these rustic-looking fences …

… and the interesting shadow play by the leaves on the tree trunk.

There’s a fungus among us.

There’s always a little fungi to be found in and around these parks and Lower Huron Metropark was no exception.

By the time I pulled up in the driveway, around 4:00 p.m., I had driven 70 miles and walked six miles. The car’s info panel told me the outside temp was 85 degrees. The treks at the trio of Metroparks left me pooped. It was 64 degrees when my fresh-as-a-daisy self had embarked on this Parksapalooza event some eight hours earlier. Part of the reason I was so hot was I had worn a hat, long-sleeved shirt, neckerchief/bandana and long pants, all designed to keep from getting a sunburn like I got over Memorial Day weekend, despite a gray and gloomy sky, but pesky UV rays gave me a sunburn. I was eager to get inside the house.

It was a long, but enjoyable, drive for me out in the country, past a few roadside stands – too early for produce, jams/jellies, but I saw plenty of cut flowers and various potted plants or hanging baskets. Along Middlebelt Road there was a large flea market teeming with bargain-hunting souls and unfortunately, lots of road kill. I loved passing through the tiny, old-time town of Waltz and the town of Willow, all in Huron Township.

An entire day with just a pair of Chipmunks, one Hummingbird and one Red-winged Blackbird tells me I’ll be back in a few years and I’ll stick with Lake Erie Metropark for now and that is exactly where I went the following day, the middle day of the long holiday weekend and that trek will be the subject of next week’s post.

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