Where the Waters Meet

A number of years ago I drove through a small community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that is called Watersmeet. It is at the confluence of Duck Creek and the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River. It is a lovely part of the state and Watersmeet seems to me to be a wonderful name for the community.

I have come to think of the convergence of the two branches of the Rouge River (the Main and the Upper branches) in Eliza Howell Park as “watersmeet.” Though it is off the path, I frequently go there to see what is happening; it is a spot that attracts wildlife.

This photo was taken recently looking downstream from the point at which the two branches meet.

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The map may help to pinpoint the location of “watersmeet” in the park.

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Over the years, this section of the river has been the most reliable place in Eliza Howell Park for spotting Wood Ducks. Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities and the young jump to the ground and head for the river with their mother only a day or so after hatching. The young ducks, usually 6 – 8 in number when I see them, spend the next couple of months in and along the edges of the river, cared for by the female parent, pictured here.

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Photo by Margaret Weber

As is true of most ducks, the male Wood Duck does not participate actively in parenting. it remains in the area, however, and is a “wow!” bird when seen in its full splendor.

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  Photo by Margaret Weber

In 2017, I saw a mink crossing the river here, a mammal I have seen in the park only a very few times. Also in 2017, in the fall, I observed a Green Heron here several different times. Green Herons have been only occasional visitors to the park in my experience, but I am hoping that this bird will return as part of a pair that makes EHP its summer home. A Great Blue Heron can frequently be found here from spring till fall.

Raccoons are active in the bottomland near where the waters meet and often use, for daytime resting dens, one of several cavities in the large black willows that grow in this area.

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I came upon one raccoon here last fall that had apparently decided it didn’t need to climb a tree for its daytime rest and went to sleep right on the ground.

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In an effort to increase my familiarity with mammal tracks, I often head to the “watersmeet” neighborhood in the morning after a new snowfall. And I always find evidence that a lot of activity has taken place while I slept. When the river is frozen, the Rouge itself is a bridge and/or a pathway.

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The path I take on my nature walk often varies from one season to another, depending upon what I am expecting or hoping to find. One location that is good every season of the year is “where the waters meet.”