(I am still waiting patiently for spring to arrive here in Southeast Michigan. Highs 15 to 20 degrees below normal and endlessly cloudy days have stalled the emergence of plants, as well as me from my home. I am tired of being cold and it's wearing on me. Good thing I still have Florida posts to take at least my mind somewhere warm!)
Tuesday was Grandma Day. Suffering from macular degeneration as well as a bit of vertigo, she is unable to get herself around any more. Oh, she is still quite active, bowling two nights a week, hosting a bridge club on Thursdays. She does this with the help of John, her companion of 30 years. She's 88, he's 90, so while they manage to get around for the usual stuff, they don't do any extraneous travel any more.
So we decided to take Andree (John doesn't walk very well) down to Pelican Island, the first National Wildlife Refuge which was established in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt to protect the Brown pelican. You see, they were being wiped out for their feathers, which ladies wore on their hats. The park has a nice paved walkway with lots of benches and a viewing platform that overlooks Pelican Island and the Indian River Lagoon.
The first bird we saw--OK, maybe Andree didn't see it, but I told her about it--was this palm warbler. I first saw this bird last year at the same park.
There is a small pond near the parking lot, with a pavilion and benches, and it is probably the best place to see birds. Several pair of Lesser Scaup were puttering around.
As we watched the ducks, one of the girls pointed out the hawk circling some distance away. Its white wing banding was startlingly bright. After some debate we decided this is a Red-shouldered Hawk, although none of the bird guides show it with such distinctive banding.
After several rest stops and a potty break were Andree went and peed behind a bush (I love my grandma!) we made it to the observation deck that overlooks Pelican Island. Yep, that's it. Doesn't look like much, but this is the place where we began protecting wildlife in earnest. It was quite literally protected by a gentleman named Paul Kroegel, who chased would-be pelican harvesters off with a shotgun. (You can read more about the history here.)
Once back at the parking lot, we spotted an American Kestrel. I recall last year the most interesting birds--the warblers and a Loggerhead Shrike--were hanging out by the parking lot. Lesson learned!