“Miracle” is now a Canuck!

On March 15th, I did a post about “Miracle on the Detroit River” which was the saga of a small dog who was chased by a coyote onto the frozen Detroit River during the brutally cold Polar Vortex. This post follows up on that tale, since so many of you were captivated by the misfortune, then good fortune, of the dog.

Alone, scared, hungry and cold, this pooch spent four days on the ice while most of the Downriver area of Southeast Michigan fretted and stewed. We all wished somebody … anybody … could come to its rescue.

The hero of the story was Canadian Jude Meade, who borrowed an airboat, made a daring rescue, endangering his own life by stepping onto the ice to retrieve the dog, then sped across the River to deposit the poor pooch into the arms of Patricia Trevino, Manager of the River Rouge Animal Shelter at the shoreline of Dingell Park.

Then the dog was whisked away …

… to a local vet where he was named “Miracle” and, after recovery from surgery and frostbite, he was placed with a foster family to await adoption.

A multitude of people, locally and across the nation, were eager to adopt Miracle, but he now has found a furever home with his rescuer, Jude Meade!

These photos are from the Friends of the River Rouge Animal Shelter’s Facebook site and capture the joyous reunion that took place yesterday. Because our international border crossing at Detroit/Windsor has been closed for a year due to COVID, an extra-special effort by River Rouge Police Chief/Fire Chief Roberto Cruz allowed this “handoff” to occur. I was the 500th person to comment and agree on the Facebook post that Miracle could not have been placed with a better person.

That bright-red hoodie with the Canada and U.S. flags on the back made this Canadian, who has lived in the States almost 55 years, grin ear to ear.

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#Don’t take my photo – I’m having a bad feather day! #Wordless Wednesday #March winds are a gull’s ‘do disaster.

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

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Winter: It’s NO walk in the Park sometimes.

Whew! We’ve left Winter in the rear-view mirror and Spring officially arrived on Saturday. Of course, that is just “calendar Spring” and doesn’t mean we won’t still see ice and snow, nor endure more cold temps, but the angle of the sun will feel good on our faces and definitely will help that pesky snow to melt quickly.

The sun perks us all up and nothing is better than a good shadow day, despite the cold temps.

After a warmer-than-average, snow-free November, then up to Christmas Eve, it HAD been my kind of Winter. We were spoiled until we had several inches of “mood snow” for Christmas Day. After it melted away, we had a great January and I was able to walk almost every day to/from and around Council Point Park, save for a few rainy mornings where we hovered at the freezing mark, so I didn’t venture out.

But then the Peanut and Snack Angel’s crown began to tarnish a little.

It was all good until Mother Nature got a bee in her bonnet and cranked up the ol’ snow machine. February 4th we got measurable snow and some freezing drizzle, which kept me from any trips to the Park for about a week. I had to walk in the plowed and salted street to get back and forth to the Park because it was safer than navigating icy sidewalks. We just cleared up that mess, when we got the eight-inch (20 cm) snowfall, plus a little snow every day for a week, along with the Polar Vortex. Because it was so cold, the City didn’t plow or salt the streets. Ugh!! Winter held NO appeal for me for most of February. I am sure my furry friends beat a path over to where I’ve designated as their usual feeding stations, hoping I might have been by, while I stewed and fretted over them like a mother hen, knowing their nut stash was useless beneath mounds of snow and frozen turf.

But I finally made another snowy and frozen foray on February 21st.

I was hoping my furry and feathered pals remembered who I was. I wondered if I could access the space beneath the tree and the little hideaway where I tuck their treats on the stump and spread across the log. Did I need high boots, or could I wear my lug-soled hiking boots which would help me navigate the icy patches much better? Decisions, decisions … I wore the lug-soled boots as I finally headed out the door, wearing multiple layers, toting bags of treats and on a mission to feed the hungry and rack up some steps. At the Park the snow was mounded up high – it looked beautiful and pristine as few people had tracked through it yet.

As I suspected, the path was dicey and icy in many spots. But I had to wade through the high snow to get under the tree. Yes, like before, there were lots of squirrel footprints – the squirrels had jumped from tree to tree and gone to The Safe Haven Tree, then scurried down the trunk to the ground. I stomped out a bigger area under the tree so I could spread out treats. Soon my furry pals were noshing nuts and the shriek of Jays filled the air.

I left my peanut pals happily crunching and munching and started along the path, which had been plowed, but was not totally clear and was icy, as you see in the header image and below.

Long-dead teasels lined the Creek banks – look how bleak it looks in the heart of Winter.

Snow had piled onto branches – no movement by birds or squirrels here. I suspected most were staying in their respective nests.

But then Parker came over, his face covered with snow and looked up at me. Not the greatest shot of my pal, but I wanted to scoop him up and take him home with me.

Soon I was at my second stop, the small alcove with the stump and fallen log. I headed over, stepping into snow banks and submerging my boots up to my calves. After cleaning off the stump and log, I poured out peanuts and sunflower seeds and watched my furry pals scamper out of the woodwork.

After tendering treats, I was off again, treading carefully, taking baby steps and walking gingerly while navigating icy patches.

The cement ledge was snowy and the Creek was frozen over and piled high with snow.

The pathway area around the pavilion was similarly slick and icy, so I opted to just walk through the snow which I deemed safer. I stopped to get a shot of some icicles.

My parting shot that particular day was the park bench looking pretty desolate here, BUT

… a few weeks later we got a brief thaw.

That bit of balmy weather helped thaw out the Ecorse Creek. The Mallards were elated they could waddle around on those bright-orange feet, then plop into the Creek for a quick wash-up, then a preening session. You can see their joy to be back to their routine again, just as I was glad to return to my own routine.

And now it is Spring … glorious Spring. How do I know?

Though the landscape is still pretty blah, it’s always fun to guess when I’ll see the first delicate Snowdrops blooming in the ‘hood.

Every bit of green is a welcome “Spring Thing” in my opinion.

Robins, like Spring flowers, (and even weeds), are popping up everywhere. Often they greet me with a glare, or a suspicious look …

… or I’ll see Robin Redbreast with its ear tuned to the worm station (and also one eye on me to ensure I’m not stealing any worms or grubs).

The trill of the Red-Winged Blackbird perched in a tree, or the reeds at the marsh area of the Park in early March, is always a thrill to my ears.

There are buds on trees – how many days or weeks ’til they open?

Even Harry the Heron is hepped up, as soon he won’t shiver while he scopes out fish in water up to his knees in the murky Creek water.

With the advent of Spring, everything is alright within my world again … well, almost. That pesky COVID thing lingers. But thankfully, I have my go-to spot to forget about the trials and tribulations we call life.

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Parker: “I’d rather have a pot of peanuts, than a pot of gold!” #Wordless Wednesday; #Wildlife Wednesday

#Wordless Wednesday – allow your photo(s) to tell the story. And … click here please …

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A shoreline stroll for me and a doggone sweet story for you.

Every February, usually the coldest and snowiest month of the year here in the Mitten State, a crowd of people flock to Dingell Park at the shoreline of the Detroit River. Some are photographers that set up tripods and use lenses the length of one’s arm, but most are ordinary folks toting binoculars, small cameras, or holding up their smartphones, all hoping to catch a glimpse, or capture an image, of the many Bald Eagles which frequent Mud Island.

Mud Island, a 21-acre uninhabited island across from Dingell Park, is comprised of dredge material, but has become a local habitat for a variety of songbirds, as well as the eagles, because of the abundance of trees in its naturally growing forest. There are Maple, Ash, Cottonwood and Willow trees on this property. It is rumored that deer, snakes and coyotes live on the island.

Here are some photos of Mud Island taken from the pavilion area.

A narrow passage of water called the Ecorse Channel is between Mud Island and Dingell Park. That water is full of aquatic plants which sustain the waterfowl, plus there is an abundance of fish which those same waterfowl and local fishermen covet and often compete for.

The eagles are savvy and know that during this time period the water generally freezes; if not solid, there are plenty of ice floes on which the eagles will perch and scope out the fish. The herons and seagulls at this venue are often found fishing on those same ice floes. So you can see why photographers are assured they will come home with a treasure trove of images from a visit to this venue in the dead of Winter.

Every year I usually hightail it to Dingell Park with my camera and binoculars two or three times during February and even early March. I suspect our brutal February likely took some of the pizazz out of this annual event, since never-ending snow, ice and cold pummeled this area for most of that month. But, once February’s incessant snow, ice and cold had departed, I was still hesitant to head there as the pavilion is fairly small and the crowd generally gathers, shoulder to shoulder, on the pavilion platform as it affords the best view.

Also, I kept checking the John D. Dingell Park Facebook page and it was NOT brimming with eagle and waterfowl shots by local photographers this year, so I suspected others were uneasy about social distancing just as I was.

But … I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and visit this venue on an early March weekday, but with a stipulation. If I saw the whites of anyone’s eyes, I wouldn’t even leave the car but instead head to Bishop Park, a mere two miles away, where the gulls pose and provide plenty of blog fodder.

It was a very cold, windy and gray morning and I left the house at 7:30 a.m. I figured no one else would be dumb enough to be traipsing along the water’s edge and I guessed 100% correctly, as I had the place to myself. Though I never saw a bald eagle, it was all good anyway as I took dozens of shots of the Mute Swans, a photogenic Canada Goose and a Mallard or two. I was patting myself on the back for going there, when it started to flurry. Soon big flakes were furiously flying and luckily I was under the pavilion, so I decided to wait it out.

The flurries persisted and then finally stopped, so I headed to Bishop Park, then Council Point Park, where flurries started and stopped at least three more times. Grrr!

So here’s a few shots of the waterfowl I saw at Dingell Park that morning. After my photos will be the second part of this long post, a tale that is sure to warm your heart despite the frigid locale.

Miracle on the Detroit River.

We’ve all heard about Sully Sullenberger’s Miracle on the Hudson and landing his plane on the Hudson River back in 2009 … well this tale is about Miracle on the Detroit River in 2021.

This story unfolded on the coldest day of this Winter Season. The 2021 Polar Vortex affected 86% of the country and 235 million people. Here in SE Michigan, the mercury had plunged to about -6F (-14C) that morning, and, like most Midwestern homeowners during this extreme cold spell, for about a week I had every tap trickling warm water and was washing small loads of laundry several times a day to warm the pipes.

On that bitter cold day, Wednesday, February 17th, a local photographer named Tim Epperly braved the elements and went to Dingell Park. Through his camera’s viewfinder he saw something which would soon captivate local residents, holding their rapt attention for the next four days (and even beyond that time period).

Tim Epperly used his camera’s long lens to focus on the object which was a small shaggy-haired dog. There was also a coyote. He watched the coyote chasing the small dog across the ice. This prompted Tim Epperly to capture the images he saw in the viewfinder, then he posted these images on Dingell Park’s Facebook page.

I happened to check out the Dingell Park Facebook site that evening, and, sitting here swaddled in my polar fleece jammies, the furnace roaring away, I was just as horrified as the many commenters who begged someone to do something to rescue that dog.

Patricia Trevino, Manager of the River Rouge Animal Shelter, doggedly pursued getting a rescue for this pooch. She pleaded with authorities to allow someone to go onto the ice, but, just a few days before, someone had jumped up and down on the ice a few miles down the River and plunged through (with no body recovered yet). The police were worried someone might lose their life trying to save the dog’s life and therefore immediately secured Dingell Park for everyone’s safety.

Over the next few days, within the presence of the police, people set up grills along the shoreline, hoping the smell of cooked meat wafting across the Ecorse Channel and the Detroit River would entice this shaggy pup to cross the ice and come to Dingell Park. But the idea, as brilliant as it was, did not work. Someone contacted WXYZ TV station and a reporter got involved as Ms. Trevino hounded and pleaded for someone to use an airboat or some device to rescue the dog as the brutal temps continued. There were many comments on each post that updated the status of the dog and situation.

Meanwhile, the plot thickened.

Across the Detroit River in Canada, the story likewise was a trending topic on their local news. The photographer, Tim Epperly, continued monitoring the dog, which was now closer to the Canadian side of the Detroit River.

Enter Jude Mead, Director of Operations at J&J Marine over in Windsor, who would relieve the angst of all of us animal lovers as he went on a mission on Sunday, February 21st to retrieve the poor pup, who by then had spent (at least) four days on the ice, after being chased by the coyote and was alone, cold and probably very hungry.

Jude Mead and another fellow hopped onto an airboat provided by nearby Wyandotte’s BASF Chemical Company.

The location of the pup was pinpointed here in Tim Epperly’s long lens image just before the rescue took place.

Next, Jude Mead sped across to the American side of the Detroit River. This was his arrival at Dingell Park’s boardwalk; look at the pup’s ice-covered legs and paws.

After placing the pooch in Patricia Trevino’s arms, amid collective cheers and tears, the nearly frozen dog was whisked away to the nearby Woodhaven Animal Hospital.

And they called it puppy love

At Woodhaven Animal Hospital, Dr. Lucretia Greear went to work on this pooch, which we learned, via both Facebook sites, was someone’s pet named “Alfonso” who had escaped. The owner surrendered Alfonso and Dr. Greear promptly nicknamed him “Miracle” and upon examining him said the dog likely survived due to its heavily matted fur which offered some protection from the frigid temps. A crowdfunding site was soon brimming with donations to help pay for Miracle’s care. Thereafter, warm wishes, as well as many doggie sweaters and toys, were swiftly dropped off at the vet’s office.

Miracle was given sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to assist in his recovery.

Photographer Tim Epperly captured these sweet photos of Miracle at the vet’s office after the matted hair was shaved off.

Here Miracle is sporting a sweater and showing off his haircut.

I’ve been following Miracle’s story in the news and via Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s Facebook site. Besides hyperbaric oxygen therapy for his frostbite injuries, Miracle had stem cell surgery for his existing hip dysplasia, medicine for prior pancreatitis woes and, after healing from those treatments and surgery, he was released to a foster family. He will be up for adoption in a few weeks. There are people from here in Michigan and Canada who want to adopt Miracle, as well as national and international inquiries about his adoption. What a heartwarming story with a good ending.

This was a photo taken of Dr. Greear and Miracle and featured in a March 6th update on his health on the vet’s Facebook site.

Thank goodness for Tim Epperly whose keen eye and his camera’s long lens spotted Miracle, Jude Mead for coming to the rescue of this poor pooch and Dr. Greear’s expertise and devotion to Miracle … all wonderful human beings who have given Miracle a new lease on life.

[Images used in this post about Miracle are from the Dingell Park and Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s Facebook pages and are mostly by photographer Tim Epperly.]

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One year of COVID-19 … sometimes we improvise. One year of Wordless Wednesday posts … yay! #Wordless Wednesday

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

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When seasons clash.

Elizabeth Park is one of my favorite weekend haunts. For the nature lover, there’s a little bit of everything to see and enjoy … perhaps a nice stroll along the boardwalk where you are sure to meet up with a paddling of ducks looking for a handful of corn, or a gaggle of geese will likely pick their way across your path. A nice collection of songbirds await your eyes and ears and if all these items don’t entice you, be assured the very tame, cute and spoiled squirrels are plentiful and will rush up to you as you step out of your car, ever-hopeful you have brought them goodies.

Today’s trek was the third of three treks taken on that December morn, beginning with an early morning “drop” at Council Point Park to leave treats for my feathered and furry buddies, then on to meander around Humbug Marsh at the new Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. (I have yet to compile the photos plus do a narrative from my three Fall forays to the Wildlife Refuge, so rather than making three separate posts, I’ll just pick my favorite shots from the three trips, so stay tuned.) I had those above-referenced two meanders under my belt before arriving at Elizabeth Park about 11:00 a.m.

A bird’s-eye view of waterfowl aplenty.

I parked near the canal, just past the vehicle bridge. As usual, the water was dotted with ducks, geese and seagulls. From the abundance of screeches, both in the water and overhead, the gulls were wound up about something. I walked back to the vehicle bridge I had just crossed over, to get a bird’s-eye view of the waterfowl in the canal and see what the fracas was about. While scoping out the situation, all of a sudden about a dozen seagulls swooped down from the sky and plunked themselves along the cement rail, not ten feet from me. In a flurry of feathers, most of the gulls then headed to the canal, except this pair. We eyeballed each other and after a few minutes these two inched closer to me, undeterred by the sound of the camera clicking away. They no doubt assumed I was “carrying” … food that is. I had nothing for them, save for some peanuts I brought for the collection of squirrels once they began begging.

So here’s how that seagull encounter looked. Be sure to note the second photo with one gull screeching and the other giving it the side eye.

Having taken at least twenty shots of the canal affray and my gull friends, I moved back onto the road that encircles the island. A handful of squirrels approached and stopped at my feet, politely sitting on haunches in begging stance, wearing that woeful “would you feed me please?” look. Yes, I couldn’t resist – neither could you.

If only all snow disappeared so quickly

This particular walk was on the cusp of Winter. We had a little snow earlier in the week, but this morning was clear and bright and the only evidence now of snow at this venue was where the plow had shoved it over to the side of the road.

The sun was not strong enough to melt the dribs and drabs of snow nestled in the crisp leaves …

… nor the thin veil of ice on puddles along the way.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.

As I meandered along, I could not help but notice that harvest time lingered at this venue. No, not any candy corn lights or inflatable turkeys or cornucopias, but instead, there were all sizes and shapes of pumpkins and other gourds, with almost nary a nibble on them – yet. Clearly, the local residents in this city had swapped their harvest décor for Christmas trimmings and brought their gourds over to the park for the critters to chow down on. The last time I stopped here at Elizabeth Park and drove through downtown Trenton to get here, I noticed the displays of pots of mums plus many pumpkins piled on hay bales adorning store fronts and street corners, so perhaps that accounted for some as well.

These are just a few of the many gourds I saw that day.

Boppin’ over the bridge and along the boardwalk.

Next, before I walked along the boardwalk, I stopped briefly to get a few shots of the peace and tranquility of the other side of the canal from my perch on the big bridge.

Only one other person was strolling, likely most others were Christmas shopping. I said “good morning” and the woman called out “you look so Christmassy in your red jacket!” I thanked her and smiled, then said “you and your dog have matching jackets!” I stopped to get this shot of them. The Grosse Ile Free Bridge is in the background. It is now closed due to construction an extra year due to added structural problems.

As I walked to the car, I had the road to myself, unlike last time when I had to wait to cross the street while the Canada Geese slowly sashayed across en masse at their usual speed (slow). I heard some geese honking and looked up to see a sloppy formation of geese coming in, aiming for the canal near where I had parked the car. I pleaded silently “please keep my car clean during your flyover guys – I don’t want to stop at the car wash today!”

As the geese approached the canal, they fell out of formation and splashed down mightily into the canal – what a beautiful sight to behold. The ducks scattered at the first kerplunk, but most of the seagulls refused to budge.

I took these few shots which look like a day at the beach, before heading to the car, 5½ miles walked according to the pedometer, in addition to a treasure trove of waterfowl pics on my camera card.

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A paddling goes a’paddling. #Wordless Wednesday #A rose among the thorns.

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

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I was late to the party …

… the Christmas party at Heritage Park that is.

Long-time followers of my blog know that Heritage Park is one of my favorite places to visit all year around.

There is an asphalt track which encircles a large area of picnic tables, pavilions and soccer and baseball fields, where you can easily rack up about 2,000+ steps each time you walk that 1.2-mile track, or you can even take a brief detour into a forested area.

But my favorite part of Heritage Park is the historical village where you can walk amongst vintage buildings and enjoy the ambiance of the covered bridge over Coan Lake with its many Mallards that gather beneath that bridge.

As a special 2020 holiday treat, Heritage Park hosted an event called “Winterfest” that included a spectacular animated light show called “The Blizzard of Oz”.

In order to set up, display and subsequently take down the event, the historical area, Botanical Gardens and Petting Farm were fenced off and closed to the public (except for the nightly shows) for a total of two months.

Well that was a bummer, even though, admittedly, when I visit this venue, I usually take the same ol’ photos of the Mallards, Little Red Schoolhouse, water-powered Mill, old-time log house and other historical buildings nestled within the small village area.

So when Heritage Park’s Photo of the Day Facebook site announced the park was once again totally open, I hustled up there the first chance I got. That would be January 23rd, a very frosty morn. It was only 17F (-8C) when I left the house. I’d already spent about 90 minutes at Council Point Park tendering treats to the squirrels and birds and taking photos for my Valentine’s Day blog post before I headed here. Surely the six-mile ride to Heritage Park would give my frozen fingers time enough to thaw out.

Duck Soup.

In the Winter, I always hope to get some photos of the Mallards huddling against one another on frozen Coan Lake. Surprisingly, despite the frigid temps, the water only froze on one side of the lake. On previous Winter jaunts, I have seen Seagulls, Canada Geese, Cormorants and Herons dive bombing, then plunging through the ice, thus creating a private swimming hole, where they will preen or catch a fish, while the Mallards usually just huddle together on the ice or hang out near the shoreline.

The Mallards didn’t disappoint though. There had to be at least 40-50 of them paddling about in Coan Lake.

The ducks were quacking and splashing, so I don’t know if those verbal utterances were a sign of approval or disapproval with the weather. I know they are well equipped to handle the wintry weather, but I felt sorry for them anyway. I had brought along some sunflower seeds and broken-up WASA crackers and quickly scattered them on the shoreline, but neither the seeds nor crackers appealed to them, so hopefully Coan Lake had been stocked with enough fish to feed the masses. Fishing by humans is catch-and-release only.

An equal number of my fine-feathered friends were lazing along the shoreline.

There was a faint sun out and a few were snoozing, always with the “lookout duck” present. Though those rays of sun, that were bouncing off the water and ice were welcome to see, they didn’t provide much warmth and I was glad for my multiple layers under my squall jacket. Soon, despite a double layer of gloves, my fingers were cold, but I wanted to take photos, so I just lived with it.

Last Winter I visited the Gardens on Valentine’s Day.

I enjoyed my 2020 Valentine’s Day meander at the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The post I did afterward reflected the beauty of the Winter’s day, a breath of fresh air for the Winter-weary. With the color red being the theme of Valentine’s Day, I took images of the bright-red schoolhouse and Fitz’s Caboose and Boxcar against the snow along with the “(he)artwork” that is prominently displayed on the grounds of the Gardens. Francesca’s Heart is a permanent display; these photos were taken this year.

The Botanical Gardens loses some of its charm when the landscape is blah and the flowers are not blooming out front or in pots under the dome and grounds.

A little bit of Christmas leftovers sure did bring a smile to my face. Because the “Blizzard of Oz” event had just closed, there were still traces of Christmas around, so, I got to see the Gardens decorated for that holiday. Here is some of the décor, including the header image.

I strolled around the grounds, stopping to take pictures of those vintage items mentioned above. One day I will see the listing tree below on the ground next to the Little Red Schoolhouse.

There were a few walkers getting in their daily steps and one person walking their dog. It was a quiet morning, just how I like it. By the time I got back to the car, I’d been outside for five hours altogether and the temperature was still only 22F (-5C). Talk about a couple of brrrisk walks!

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Pavarotti? Great facial expressions! #Wordless Wednesday #Seagull Shenanigans

Wordless Wednesday … with a twist.

Fellow blogger Dave (https://lifeinaword.com/) commented on today’s post entitled “Pavarotti?” by suggesting: “You should ask your readers to submit thoughts on what his companion is thinking. He looks – well – embarrassed, to say the least!”

Over the course of several shoreline visits to the Detroit River in Wyandotte, I saw enough crazy Seagull antics to use the tagline #Seagull Shenanigans three times.

When I created this post, I came up with a ton of fun titles to call it, based on the Seagull with its mouth wide open and the deadpan look on the other Seagull’s face. If that wasn’t funny enough, the singing Seagull was wearing a very sheepish grin in the last shot.

So, among the post titles that sifted through my brain were:

“The Bad Boys of the Boardwalk”
“Pennies from Heaven”
“Catching snowflakes on my tongue”
“Bad joke or bad breath?”
“Gulls just wanna have fun” and …
“That takes a lot of gall, er … gull!”

So, while Pavarotti the Ring-billed Gull was screeching up a storm – what do YOU think his companion was thinking … is he embarrassed by his gull friend or perhaps he/she secretly covets that voice?


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

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