After I make a quick trip to the office, I head out to the park. Camera and notebook in hand, I begin my walk down Long Pond Trail. This trail is one of the least used on the park, yet is interesting because it parallels part of the lagoons and also snakes its way through some of the loveliest woodland sections of Presque Isle. It is a relatively short trail and easy to walk. A complete loop of the trail and return on the Multi-Purpose Trail, alongside the bay, is only 1.2 miles long.
Starting my walk near East Marina Pier, I notice a slight wind is stirring. It has always intrigued me that wind, which has both grace and swiftness, can have a tremendous effect on our lives, yet cannot be seen. To me, wind symbolizes freedom. The wind blows wherever and whenever it pleases. You hear it. You feel it. Even so, you cannot imagine where the wind comes from or where it is going, and this imagination awakes the wildness of the soul. In our day-to-day lives, we rarely have the opportunity to break free, so the wind’s pure freedom can open a small window of adventure to all of us.
When walking, fishing or writing on Presque Isle, I feel the wind sometimes has a haunting and poignant music of its own. At times it is nearly calm, nevertheless refreshing and at other times it gets a bit wild and crazy. When the wind shows its rousing, buoyant and happy side, you can almost dance to the mood it sets. When it is in this kind of mood, it allows the park visitors to clear their minds and refresh their bodies. One of the images I continually enjoy is how the bird world uses this invisible force to soar, slide and rocket through unseen hills and waves that are constantly changing. The birds naturally know how to enjoy and play within the landscape of the wind.
This morning the air on Presque Isle hangs heavy with water vapor left over from a dawn thunderstorm that meandered its way down the bay. A thick haze hangs over the pond and the air suspended above the lagoon is saturated, surely, but with birdsong as well as the water vapor. This morning the whole crew is out in its full glory. Cardinals, Robins, Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds and Catbirds all join in a steady chorus. Just across the pond in an old oak tree, a new king has been crowned. He is a large and noisy male red-winged blackbird. As I watch, he chases two other males out of it, and now is in full pursuit of a passing crow. This time of the year, the wrens, the jays, the blackbirds and all other proud parents, all seem to understand one another and keep the ruffians away.
As I continue and a wider section of Long Pond opens to my left, all of a sudden, a Belted Kingfisher rattles on by, coming within 10 feet of my head. I am most likely nearing his tunnel-like nest somewhere along the nearby lagoon bank. He lands on a dead tree not 30 feet from me. I notice that he is really a she. I know this because I recently learned that unlike most birds the female Belted Kingfisher is more vibrantly colored than the male. She turns and looks directly back at me, twitching her large head as a constant warning to me. She is slate blue with a slightly brighter head and a long black beak. These are beautiful birds and fun to watch.
As I continue down the trail, I carefully study the snags in the area, because in the past, I have noticed a female owl and her chicks roosting in the hollowed-out sections of two old snags nearby. The plant life is lush here, and wildflowers are everywhere. Beavers sometimes use this part of the lagoons to grab a quick lunch, so I keep an eye out along the shoreline for these swimming furballs.
While I am looking for them, I notice a large Garpike cruising just offshore. You might want to know that there are two similar looking fish in the
lagoons and bay, one is the Garpike and the other is the Long Nose Gar. There is little difference between them. From a personal perspective, neither is a beautiful looking fish. As I watch, two smaller ones soon join him. Garpike are a long, thin and heavily armored needle-nosed fish that can grow to five feet in length in the bay and lagoons. In fact, behind my boat moored at the Erie Yacht Club, a big old five footer has prowled the waters for the last three years. They have extended pointed and powerful jaws filled with long sharp teeth. The lagoons and bay have many of them. One strange fact about the Garpike is that they surface often to take large gulps of air. Their systems are designed to survive in brackish, oxygen depleted water, and they have the ability to breathe air through this gulping.
In only a short walk on the trails of Presque Isle, you can hear, see and touch many wonders of nature every single trip. You just need to open your senses to what is right there waiting for your discovery.
See you on the park!!
This post was written by admin