Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Belle Isle

Another beautiful day last Sunday on Belle.  It had been cold through the night and the morning was cold so I thought there might be a few migrants around.  Again, there was another run or walk going on, but it was not at all intrusive to what I was doing.

The first thing I saw nearly took my breath away.  Trotting down the path was this coyote (Canis latrans).  We saw each other at the exact same time and we both stopped dead in our tracks.  We were possibly 20 feet apart.  It did not seem at all alarmed.  I wasn't exactly sure what I should be doing.  It took a few of slow steps toward me.  It was then that I began to whistle and slap my side, all while trying to snap a couple of photos.

Finally it turned into the woods, but still did not go far.  It looked at me, as if waiting patiently, as I took the photos above and below.

It's easy to see what a beautiful creature it is.  I didn't notice any mange and it seemed well-fed.  It appeared to be a youngster.  In the enlarged version of the photo above, a mosquito is at the base of its right ear.

While watching and waiting, it would occasionally look up as in the photo above.  I couldn't see what was distracting it.

A guy on a bike came by.  When he saw what I was taking photos of, he stopped and took out his iPhone.  I walked away then to leave the coyote alone and hoped it had enjoyed our chance meeting as much as I did.

In the past I have seen red foxes in two different sightings that were well-apart.  This is the first coyote I have seen on Belle Isle and I recalled a PBS Nature show about urban coyotes.  They can live among us but we will never know except for the odd and infrequent chance sightings like mine.  While driving to and from work I go through some rural areas of Detroit where I'll bet there are coyote families.  It's no surprise they are on Belle Isle.  One night they just walked across the bridge and found the island to their liking.

I did consider not posting this secondary to concern about the our state's management of Belle Isle as a state park.  It's no secret that we do not live in the most environmentally progressive, enlightened or knowledgable state in the country.  I'll leave it at that.

Eastern chipmunk (genus Tamias)

I was super happy to see two Winter Wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis).

There were still plenty of Gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) around and they seemed to be moving in family groups.

An American Crow flew out of the tree in the photo below as it was being descended upon by huge numbers of starlings.

Though not seen in the photo above I did see a few mini-murmurations over the large meadow and the river.  It's hard to estimate the starling numbers - trying to be sensible, perhaps 5,000, but the number could also have been 10,000.

I think this is the first wholly bear (Pyrrharctia isabella), Isabella tiger moth, I have seen this season.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) - the first I've seen in awhile.

Migrating Monarch (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on red clover.  I love Kenn Kaufman's and Jim Brock's description of the Monarch in Butterflies of North America, 2003.  "The most famous butterfly in North American, perhaps in the world."  That's powerful; and right in our own backyards.  As long as the weather is nice we'll be seeing them.

Here's an op-ed from the NYT that may interest some:  Meddling with Monarchs from 10/05/17.

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