April 17, 2019
Ever since we returned from our warm winter retreat in Florida, I have been struggling with Michigan’s capricious weather. In the short time that Mel and I have been home, it has been rainy, snowy, windy, hot and cold—sometimes all in the same day! Today’s forecast called for temperatures in the 40s with both wind and rain.
I really, really wanted to take a picture walk at Kensington Metropark Nature Center on my way to visiting my grandson on the other side of the state. It’s a two hour drive to the park and the rain wasn’t expected until 1:00. If I left at 9:00, I could still take pictures for two hours before the rain. But, if I left at 7:00, I could take pictures for four hours! By the time I arrived at the park, the rain prediction had been pushed back to 2:00, by the time I left, the rain wasn’t expected until 8:00! Wow! I dodged that bullet! It’s not often that I win the weather game!
The threat of rain was my biggest concern, but I also had to think about the cold—and the wind. So, I dressed in layers —a long sleeved t-shirt, a fleece sweater, a windbreaker, and a medium weight spring jacket, plus a knit hat and mittens, and a raincoat in my backpack! Good grief! Michigan weather is a lot of bother!!
The reason I go to such lengths to visit this particular nature center is the birds. For better or worse, the birds at Kensington Park are well-acclimated to people and see them all as a potential food source. I must admit, it’s quite delightful to be walking down the trail and have birds flitting around me hoping that I’ll have seeds to share. My pockets were stuffed to capacity! Every now and then, especially when a chickadee would drop by to remind me, I’d dig into one of my pockets and hold out my offering. It’s really quite heartwarming to have a tiny little bird trust you enough to take seed from your hand.
When I sat down on a bench to eat my lunch, I sprinkled seeds on the ground around me and watched as the Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and the ever-present Chickadees enjoyed the feast. What a treat!
There are a few signs posted here and there asking visitors not to feed the Sandhill Cranes, but I suspect that people either don’t see the signs or choose to ignore them because there are at least a couple of the cranes who will walk right up to you hoping for a handout. I didn’t feed them, but I sure enjoyed seeing them up close!
In addition to all the songbirds and Sandhill Cranes that you can expect to see at Kensington, there’s a large population of waterfowl that congregate on the small lake– including Canada Geese, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teals and Mallards.
The biggest attraction for visitors, though, is probably the Heron Rookery located on a small island within viewing distance from the wooden boardwalk along the edge of the lake. There are dozens of very large nests high in the trees where the Great Blue Herons come to raise their young. On today’s visit, I watched as a few of herons flew into the very tops of the trees with nesting materials in their mouths. Their perches seemed quite precarious! Sometimes the herons would land in the shallow waters near the boardwalk where I was standing to look for fish, to preen their feathers –or maybe to just take a break from their noisy kids!
With all those wonderful things waiting for me to enjoy, is it any wonder I was eager to get out the door by 7:00, drive two hours on a busy highway, and contend with Mother Nature’s moodiness just to spend a few hours in the woods?? Nope! No wonder at all!