Friday, June 18, 2010

Holland Ponds 2010-06-08

Holland Ponds 2010-06-08 2:00 - 4:00 pm

We had another (mostly) nice day at Holland Ponds. We had a chance to get some great pics of a Belted Kingfisher!  Normally we never see them fairly close. They are usually "rattling" (reference to the sound they make) and "doing" far off. We see them flying and then watch for awhile. This time I saw the bird before she saw us (rare indeed - they are about the spookiest birds we try to photograph!). A lady kingfisher just "hanging out" and resting! Wow! Other than that, we did not get too many pics of new birds, but we saw our first mink there!

Any day outdoors always seems to be interesting. We always remember "our song":  "da doot de doo doot!", and our mantra: "You never know...". We also know that if you do not get outdoors, you can sing all you want and never have a personal encounter with nature!

Species list (it is not a big list - a very small day at Holland for species):

Mallard - female with 3 large kids
Red-winged Blackbirds
Tree Swallows (1 emerging from nest box)
Catbirds (heard)
Belted Kingfisher (best pics yet!)
American Goldfinches
Mourning Doves
Bluebird (only one. We have not seen as many this year as last year)
Baltimore Oriole
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Canada Geese (heard only - odd)
Great Blue Herons. Feeding young. Lots of squawking when a parent returned with food. What a ruckus! The "kids" are now about adult height and are testing their wings. It will not be long before they fulfill every parent's desire and leave the nest! I wonder if herons feel remorse when the kids leave? I imagine not. If I were a heron, I would just swallow whatever fish I brought back to the empty nest and take a nap! (Human parents tend to be quite different and wonder what to do next with the rest of their lives).

Great Blue Heron Rookery - What a treasure in our midst!

Feed ME!

Belted Kingfishers - Females!
This is one bird where the prettiest are females. (At least to humans!) I guess the Kingfisher ladies like the "non-scuzzy look" on the chest. No extra belts for them,! The cleaner the better!

Mink!!! Crossed the road between the two small ponds just east of Waterfowl Pond. First time we saw one there. Darn thing was too fast for a pic. It was a great record! (No pics - quick little thing!)

Green Frog (very cooperative for pics!) We call this the "boing frog" because of its sound. Usually it is just "splash and gone" before we even see them!

"Boing Frog"

Can you say "timpanic membrane"?
(Oh, go look it up...I just did because I thought I remembered something from long ago ...)
Largemouth bass - first one we have seen in the shallows in mid-day. I know this is a great spot for bass for those using refined techniques for fishing shallow areas with lots of snags. (I would not eat anything from here so catch & release!)
Snake - Too quick for a pic or ID!
Dragonflies (several species)

Here's one for code name "Stylurus" (which also just happens to be the Genus for some silly dragonfly...)

James Fox tells me this is a Dot-tailed Whiteface. Thanks James!

The area where the snapping turtles laid eggs last year was showing the ground upheaved and cracking in one place. Action soon!

A down side of the day was when a muzzled un-leashed dog jumped up on me. Basically the dog seemed friendly (thank God!), but his owner was quite scary! A bit shaken after being jumped on, I angrily told him it was a law that dogs be leashed. In response - his testosterone obviously pumping - he threatenly told me to "Chill Out" along with a few other choice words. I think the only thing that saved me from being physically attacked by this man was the fact he was with his family.

Adrenaline (mine) and Testosterone - a scary encounter! You can guess who might win!

One woman (the man's mother?) leashed up the dog and apologized to us for the incident. This incident further emphasizes what we have seen as a growing trend to run unleashed dogs especially at Holland Ponds as well as other places where we bird. In most cases the owners and dogs are reasonable, but many times the owners are indignant that we suggest they follow the laws. Usually we are quite a way from roads and other people, so there is always a concern for what happens if we are really attacked. Yes, carrying a cell phone gives some assurance, but hardly serves as a defensive weapon. I note that the "dog rules sign" at Holland Ponds was never replaced - or maybe it was again torn down. In the case today, the man and his family entered from the trail from Yates Cider Mill, so there should be a set of Rules and Regulations signs posted where the Yates trail enters the Holland Ponds site as well as at the main entrance.

The Calvary Arrives! As in the old movies, just in the nick of time! Whew!

You can see from the pic that the man is restraining both his dog and his son. Sadly, I think the "like father like son" lesson has already taken hold. Maybe today was just another lesson in bonding for them? Now, that is what is really scary! What was the lesson for the kid? "Never let a couple of defenseless Senior Citizens tell you what to do! Show them who is boss!" (No wonder the guy had to muzzle his dog!)

Holland Ponds is a true joy for us. We love going there, and adding to the records of its natural history. It is close. It is an unusual area and very rich in all forms of wildlife.

It needs protection, as do the visitors! Hey, Shelby Twp. Police, the shelter is a great place for lunch, and your occasional presence would be appreciated! I know y'all have gate keys - we have enjoyed seeing you there before. And, Shadbush Nature Center, please be sure the dog rules signs are up! With recent articles in the papers about the heron rookery, more people are learning about the place, and they will probably return to enjoy walks in nature throughout the year.


Julie Craves said...

Dr. Bob, this is a sadly pervasive problem -- both the unleashed dogs and the abusive owners. I've been ignored or sworn at by many dog owners; rarely have any apologized or leashed the dog. One particularly memorable incident occurred at Lower Huron Metropark, when I was verbally and physically threatened and "rescued" (like you) by the guy's girlfriend.

Robert said...

Linda and I were at a no-dogs-allowed nature area last year when we ran into a woman with a dog that was on a leash. Not so bad, you might think. But this was a very unruly dog, and when the woman passed us on the path, the dog snapped at Linda and tore her skirt.

"Dr. Bob" said...

I am adding notes from an e-mail from James who had trouble posting a comment here (seems to be an off/on blogspot problem):

"Nice pictures. Sorry to hear about the dogs, that's why Farmington Hills has banned dogs from both Heritage Park and Woodland Hills Park. Dog owners should realize that if they keep letting their dogs off the leash the result may be that they won't be allowed to bring their dogs to the parks at all."

"Dr. Bob" said...

I think Julie used the right word - pervasive! It happens not only at Holland Ponds, but many places. I note that not only birders should be concerned, but anyone who likes to get outdoors!

Robert further documents a result from the lack of regard for rules and regulations some dog owners find inapplicable to themselves alone.
Yes, the answer may lie in the Farmington Hills solution. This is very sad for responsible dog owners who like to treat their pet to new places and smells, and who have spent the necessary time training their animals so that they can be taken out "in public", and follow the regulations as to leash laws and where they can be taken. The very fact that the owner ignored the "no dogs allowed" rule certainly suggests a lack of concern about others; the dog's actions indicate a lack in training; and - indeed - the incident tells of even a lack of caring about the dog!

For my outdoor adventures, Farmington Hills sounds enticing (Hey! New places!)... assuming the regulations are enforced!

When anyone considers the volume of people who just want to enjoy the outdoors, why should a very small minority of self-absorbed dog owners have priority?

I doubt any of the problem owners read this blog, but suggest that each of us can talk to our local municipalities about appropriate regulations for nature parks and their enforcement.