Mornin’ Doug:

September 22nd, 2016     6 comments     permalink

I used my traditional greeting from our daily e-mail exchange.  I wrote you an email in the morning, you wrote back at whatever time your goofy sleep-wake cycle permitted, often late nights, and then I got your reply the next morning.  All this past summer I found myself eagerly going to the computer each morning, firing it up and checking my email in-box.  It took many weeks before I realized I was still looking for your replies.  Those exchanges were far more meaningful for me than I realized.  Thanks for them…wish like crazy I was still getting ’em.


I was going through some of the photo shoots we’d done together and found a couple I’d managed to sneak in of you taken while you weren’t looking.  I never could understand why you were so phobic about not having your photo taken, but I must have respected it.  Of the thousands of photos we took together, I only have four of you.  I wish now I’d have taken more photos and just let you holler afterward.  This one is a scene many will remember, you introducing a child to the mill pond waterfowl.


I sneaked this one in on you while you were watching the swan intently, not sure if he’d bite, never having tried to hand feed him.  I don’t know if he ever got around to eating from your hand, but he didn’t want anything to do with poking his bill into the plastic feed container, at least not that day.  As I recall, you never did quite make friends with him.


This one came from Kensington.  I wish we’d thought to bring along a couple of apples.  The horse probably does too.

I was saddened to have missed the gathering at the mill pond.  I was down in Indiana helping Bryan and his family move into their new home.  We were against a couple of tight deadlines for closing and the arrival of their household goods before school started.  School starts during the third week of August in Indiana.  It wasn’t reasonable to break away and leave everyone else working hard those long, long days to get the house ready for his family.  I stayed and lent a hand.  We made it, by-the-way, but normally sure-footed Corrie  was exhausted one evening while moving household goods, tripped, fell and broke her hand in the effort.  It’s still troublesome for her.

We have to say our good-byes in our own way when the time is right for each of us.  I have the advantage of knowing what your recovery would have been like had you survived the surgery.  I said my good-bye June 24th.  Don’t, however, think for a second the hole left behind by your passing is filled.  It’s not.

There has been discussion regarding the future of this blog.  Many of your readers expressed a desire to see it continue.  I’d like to see that too…you updating the blog in your unique style.  Nobody else could possibly do what you did.  I can only imagine the concentration it must have required to photograph and track generations of waterfowl, and then write about them in first and second person.

Chuck offered to turn this blog over to me.  It would seem logical, but I remember speaking with you about doing posts on your behalf during your long absence while recovering from the heart attack.  It was clear to me you preferred to have me let it be until you could do it yourself.  I respected that then.  Still do.

I’ve been serving as the site’s administrator since about the first of July.  One of my tasks has been to approve comments.  I discovered this morning I’ve been remiss.  A number of them were waiting my attention when I logged in today.  I hope those posters, including Chuck, will accept my apology.  I’ll continue to serve in the capacity until the site naturally goes dark about the end of the year.  If Chuck wants administration signed over to someone so the blog continues, I can do that too.  Otherwise, this will be my last post out of respect for you.  I know you understand.

I sure do miss you Doug.



August 21st, 2016     6 comments     permalink


It has been a couple of long weeks cleaning out Doug’s apartment at the same time exploring his inter-sanctum and wonderful world of artwork and friends.  His friends have been very helpful.  I truly enjoyed our “Gathering at the Pond” meeting many more of his friends and the ducks.  Katie came over to Doug’s place last night and borrowed several of his early works to setup a display at the “Artisan’s Bench” on Main Street across from the pond; so you can view some of his early works for a month or so.  She will have the display opening posted on  Before Doug transitioned to computer graphics he, in my opinion, created wonderful expressive hand works of art in many formats.

I, as my retirement passion, am writing memoir to pass on to my family.  Below is my recording of the “Gathering at the pond”.  Doug was a one-on-one person and I believe many present at the gathering had not yet met the other’s present.  I truly enjoyed the experience.


Doug’s Last Gathering

My younger brother, Douglas Alden Peterson, passed away on June 24th in Brighton Michigan.  He was a good person and I loved him dearly.  We have lived 900 miles apart for the past 18 years and saw each other rarely.  After his heart attack at the end of last summer, I visited him in the hospital, spending a week in the area.  At that time we discussed his final arrangement wishes.  His statement was clear and simple.  He wanted to be cremated, his ashes thrown in the trash, and no memorial service.  I simply stated “That is not going to happen.”  He had made his point.  I had made mine.

Doug was never married and had no children; a true packrat, gifted passionate creative artist, creative problem solver, lover of nature, and lover of people in a one-on-one relationship, but was very private in talking about his personal life.  I was listed as his only heir with the responsibility of closing out his apartment and distributing his meager assets.

I knew little of his personal life.  I met several of his friends purposely and by Doug’s instructions in case he did not survive long after his heart attack.  Cleaning out his one bedroom apartment stuffed to the ceilings has been an experience and a rediscovery of much of his and my common elements, and his art treasures.

Doug graduated with honors from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1965.  Completed a Masters of Education at Ohio University and spent two years working in the hills of southern Ohio with grade school kids in the Teacher Corps.  He moved on to be the Director of the Michigan Art Train and traveled the country exposing rural America to fine art and giving art classes in the train to young people.

Tiring of the constant travel, he moved to Brighton to start an art business.  He has, in my opinion, created an enormous collection of art in many different forms, including water color and acrylic paintings, bronze castings, charcoal sketches, and sculptures.  He has taken old discarded chairs and made them into bright creations.  He made fancy decorative pillows and sewn accessories to accent his creations.  His creativity seemed to be unlimited.  In his early days all of his creations were done by hand.

His business targeted meeting the marketing support needs of clients with creative ideas and striking literature.  As time progressed he was forced economically to move into computer graphics, expanding his skills later into website design always supported by his excellent photography skills.

Doug always loved nature and studied it.  Dad was a nature lover and took us regularly to the duck pond at Palmer Park in Detroit to feed the ducks.  I was not surprised when I heard Doug was known as the “Duckman” around the pond.  I firmly believe his anytime day or night visits to the pond were his total escape meeting new people, talking to kids, talking to and feeding the ducks, enjoying the mink and chipmunks, enjoying the water, educating others about nature, and just being Doug.  That is why I scattered his ashes on the water at the pier as I approached the fire station and held a “Gathering at the Gazebo,” not a memorial.  It was a meeting of some 60 friends and sharing a little time in his world of wonder.  I was impressed when I completed my family history words with the sharing others provided of their positive interactions with Doug.  His life was good.  May his spirit always reside at the Mill Pond he so loved.

Charles A. Peterson, Springdale, AK, 08/18/2016


August 7th, 2016     10 comments     permalink

Chuck Peterson confirms Doug’s remembrance is Wednesday, August 17th at 7:00 PM.  I suggest those participating meet at the veteran’s memorial.  I selected the memorial because the gazebo may be in use that evening.

Chuck asks for those planning to participate to confirm via comment to this post.  He also asks those who’ve checked this blog to pass along the date and time by any means available to those who may have an interest in participating, but don’t check the blog with regularity.

Chuck sent me this photo of himself to help those attending locate him.



Quiet Escape

July 22nd, 2016     7 comments     permalink

Charles A. Peterson

Springdale Arkansas



This morning as I was gathering my thoughts, I checked out my late brother Doug’s Mill Pond blog.  The Mill Pond had been an integral part of his life for a long time.  He typically made passes each day, took some pictures, talked to those he passed, named and developed relationships with a few critters, passed out some duck food, took a deep breath and relaxed.  Doug had an irregular sleeping pattern so his Mill Pond visits could be at any random time of day or night.  He returned to his apartment and at some point displayed his new pictures with some text on his Mill Pond blog.  I have been for several years making passes through his blog.  His pictures and text are beautiful creations.

His world and mine were about 900 miles apart and different lifestyles.  I am a retired now widowed engineer with two daughters and two granddaughters and he was a creative driven artist, graphic designer, web designer, photographer and nature loving man unto himself.  He was driven by his passion and managed to get just along financial.  I am much more pragmatic and driven much more at the other end of the spectrum by finding a balance for living between truly following my dreams and financial security.  The point being that we are just very different people.  I was also four years older than Doug.  We were close in the early years but in some ways were more like only children because of our age differences.  We didn’t share friends and were mostly in different schools.  Doug was in forth grad when I went off to high school and I was off to college when he started high school.  I moved from Highland Park in the Detroit Area after college graduation to Southern Indiana and we were separated by four hundred miles. I was raising a family and he was starting up in his art world.

He had been in Brighton, Michigan for over forty years developing his world.  After long after Mom and Dad died, I changed jobs and moved to NW Arkansas from Southern Indiana and increased our separation distance from 400 to 900 miles making get to gathers more difficult.  After his death and being his surviving heir I came to realize that I really didn’t know much about his close relationships, friends, and life style.

Returning to Brighton, re-meeting Marilyn, meeting Don, Tom, Terry, Alisha, and Mary and Bob across the hall, as well as a few others has been a very positive experience.  They have been so helpful in sorting out his stuff and filling in some of the blanks, as well as toting boxes down the stairs helping clean up the apartment.

His blog is still a huge unknown to me.  It is beautifully done, but I have no understanding of the expanse.  Don has access to it and we decided to keep it going until at least the end of the year, when the address will need to be renewed or simply disappear.  Disappearing is not something I would like to happen, but I don’t know of anyone with the passion and close to Doug’s skill and creativity to continue with his love.  I was surprised to recently discover his local nickname.  I just love him as being referred to as “The Duckman”.

Dad would also love that nickname.  When Ron my much older brother, Doug and I were young, Dad would take us for nature walks.  Locally, Palmer Park was about four blocks from home with a duck pond and a small pavilion.  The pond had a couple of islands and a flock of about twenty resident ducks.  I believe some of the park work was done by the WPA during the depression.  The pavilion had a small refreshment stand that served cokes, crackers, candy bars, cheese tidbits, and I don’t remember the others.  We would walk over to the park, Dad would buy a package of cheese tidbits, and we would feed the ducks.  It was a wonderful break in the day.  Sometimes we would stop at a local soda fountain on the return walk, Dad would have a coke and Doug and I would split a coke with two straws.  It was not unusual for Dad to stop and talk to anyone on the street.  He was the local stereotypical small town doctor that knew most of the community.  These park trips along with many other nature trips were an important part of our childhood.

So I am not surprised that Doug had become known as the “Duckman”.  I have had similar trips with my daughters and granddaughters, but never into the depth of nature study that Dad and Doug shared.


What got me started on this train of thought this morning was a submission to Doug’s blog by  a  C.L. Seering entitled “Quiet Escape”  Posted on July 2, 2016.  It is a wonderful piece and totally consistent with the brother I loved.


Chuck Peterson

Remembrance Gathering

July 21st, 2016     20 comments     permalink

I need to decide how to handle a short gathering at the Mill Pond for Doug.  Doug was not a religious person.  He asked to be cremated, his ashes discarded and no memorial service.  After his heart attack late last summer I told him I thought his spirit would reside at the Mill Pond he passionately loved.  Our conversations place me in a dilemma between what I believe should be done and his wishes.  Over his life he had a passion for art and nature, a good heart belief, a high standard of values, and a personal helping love of reasonable people.

I need to know how about many people would attend a short non-religious gathering at the pond on Wednesday, August 17th at 7:00 PM.  Think about it as duck feeding or simply enjoying the pond sharing experience.  If the expected attendance is a few people, we can do it causally.  If the group is large, we probably need to schedule something with the city and obtain a permit.  Please respond to this post in the form of a comment if you seriously would attend this informal gathering so I may make plans.

Chuck Peterson, Doug’s Brother.


July 4th, 2016     2 comments     permalink

Douglas A. “The Duckman of the Mill Pond” Peterson

Brighton, Michigan


Friends and family are deeply saddened by the death of 68 year old Douglas A. Peterson of Brighton, Michigan the afternoon of June 24th, 2016, after a short illness.  Doug, as he was known to his many friends, was born in Highland Park, Michigan to the late Dr. L.W. and Mrs. Neva Peterson.  His oldest brother Ron also preceded him in death.   Doug is survived by his older brother Charles Peterson of Springdale, Arkansas and two nieces.


Doug was a graduate of Wayne State University and made his home in Brighton for more than 40 years working as an independent graphic designer, website designer, website manager, artist, writer, and marketing strategist.  His passion was nature, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, flowers, plants and insects.  He had volumes of information at the tip of his tongue and was always ready to share nature’s wonders with those he met during his daily visits to the Brighton millpond.  He photographed the ponds inhabitants and visitors, and then reported his findings and observations on his personal blog,  Doug had a unique talent for conversation and could make those he met at the millpond feel like old friends from their first chat.


Doug’s remains are being cremated and he requested that no memorial service be held.  Doug was not a religious person but lived a life of respecting and sharing with others, contributing to the community, and sharing his artistic, photography and nature living skills where ever he passed.  There will be a simple and brief mid-August gathering near the Mill Pond to be announced later.


Charles A. Peterson




Quiet Escape

July 2nd, 2016     1 comment     permalink

Smooth feathers cloaked in a heavy fog covered his soft white breast while reeds along the water’s edge cradled precious eggs.  The drake warmed his offspring, sitting poised and protectively still to avoid the attention of predators.

Mother duck limped along a footpath foraging for breakfast.  Her webbed pedestals splashed the water’s edge as she glided onto the glassy surface.

She scanned the trail, swimming in circles and strained to her him call her name.  She loved the sound of his voice, the gentle touch of his hand and the sweetest treats that came from a bag he carried in his pocket.

Two months ago she could not walk.  He picked her up and carried her to a place away from here.  Someone there bandaged her leg and brought her back to the pond.

Today, no one called her name.  No footsteps broke the silence.  Gray turned luminous as the coolness of morning bowed way to gentle rays that warmed the air.

Last Thursday excruciating pain landed Doug in emergency.  As doctors and nurses worked hastily at his bedside the next day, he glanced at the ceiling and saw the face of an angle.

“It is time to go,” the angel whispered.

“I have so much more to do.”

“You have graced this world from the gifts God gave you.  You have greeted strangers, cared for the helpless, made beautiful the colors of the other’s lives and you have loved deeply.  You have lived a good life.  It is time to quietly escape the ravages of this world, time to come home…”

“But I have so much more to do, how can I leave now?” he thought.

“It is well with your soul, good and faithful servant.”

“But my feathered friends will go hungry.  They need me.”

“I will care for them.”  Her voice echoed in his soul, “Lie back and rest for I am bringing you home.”

Back at the millpond, mother duck spread her wings as she waited and watched for her friend.

Out of the bushes a little boy ran to the water’s edge, “Mommy, come and see!”

“What is it Jeremy?  Oh my!  Look at all the beautiful ducks!”

“They look hungry mommy.  Can we feed them?”

C.L. Seering, Illuminovelists TM, Wednesday, June 29, 2016


June 30th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

I meet with Doug’s brother this afternoon.  He’s believes we can conduct a memorial service at the millpond in August.


The last photo

June 29th, 2016     5 comments     permalink

The last photo

My wife and I had our last visit with Doug at the millpond the evening of Tuesday, the 21st.   He took us to this area to show us the chipmunks, Hoover, Eureka and Dyson.  He’d trained them to eat peanuts out of his hand and was eager to show off the tricks he’d taught them.  It wasn’t long before Hoover and Eureka tired of performing for peanuts and took up pick-pocketing them directly from Doug’s bag.  A couple of times they disappeared right into the bag, filled their cheeks and fled like the natural born thieves they are.

Doug sat us on this bench, handed us peanuts from his bag and very soon my wife and I had chipmunks snitching peanuts for our hands too.  He took great delight in what he been able to teach those small critters in a short time and wondered how much they could be taught with time, patience and bribery.  I think maybe they’d taught him to fetch peanuts for them.

I was with Doug on many occasions when he shot photos.  We called them safaris.  He had the eye of an artist.  I have the hands of a mechanic.  He did everything he could to teach me about things like additive versus subtractive color, negative space and the quality of light.  He was big on light, how it struck objects in the world around him, always urging me to look for it, see it, pointing out to me what I’d missed after I’d stomped right past it.

I was able to look at the contents of his camera this week, discovering he’d gone back to the millpond the next evening, the evening of the 22nd, and shot another three dozen images.  It was his last visit to the millpond he loved very much.  This is the last photo Doug shot.  I know what caught his eye was the light from the street lamp reflecting off the tree.  I thought he’d want us all to see it.  I’m sure gonna miss him…

The last photo


Memorial Service

June 27th, 2016     10 comments     permalink

I spoke with Doug’s brother last evening by telephone.  He believes he and one of his daughters will be in Brighton on Friday, July 1st.

Doug’s brother made the gift of life on his behalf.  He spoke of having Doug’s remains cremated and conducting a memorial service for him at the Millpond.  We’re checking with city officials.



Sad Day

June 24th, 2016     11 comments     permalink

I am very saddened to report to this blog’s many readers Doug Peterson passed away June 24, 2016, at about 6:00 PM while undergoing emergency surgery at St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor.  Doug’s brother has been notified and will arrive in Brighton within the next couple of days.

We’ve all lost a dear friend.

Don Arbic


Hoover is a lapmunk

June 17th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Hoover, the Chipmunk

Hoover, the ChipmunkEarlier, I reported Hoover, the chipmunk, was well trained in taking peanuts from park visitors then transporting them back to his burrow. It’s now well beyond a simple transaction between humans and a rodent.

He’s learned to jump into laps and climb pant legs to accept peanuts in the shell. He’s picky. Already shelled peanuts will only be accepted if no peanuts in the shell are offered. Handing this creature his preferred food stuffs can become an expensive endeavor since he dashes to his burrow and returns within 30 second to get his cheeks filled again. I think he’d do this from dawn to dusk if given the chance.

Hoover, the ChipmunkSince several park visitors have learned how entertaining this fellow can be, I can’t imagine how he’s packing his bounty into this burrow. Chipmunk burrows can be 30 feet long with lots of side chambers for food storage. His mansion must be the Graceland of burrows, but I hope he’s decorated it better than Elvis did.

Normally, chipmunks don’t start seriously amassing their winter stores until autumn when you hear them rattling on to announce to the neighbors to stay off their territories. Hoover will surely be lounging on his deck as a wealthy resident of the park by then.

Hoover, the Chipmunk

Of course encouraging this behavior violates every rule in wildlife stewardship. A chipmunk can inflict a nasty bite if cornered or provoked. I worry about him getting hurt or killed by being too friendly, too. But I gotta say, as a photographer, it’s great to have a model who works for peanuts at about $2 a pound and doesn’t ask for cab fare home.

Eureka is younger and more timid than Hoover

Hold peanuts in one hand and your camera in the other. You’ll get photos like these close ups as long as you don’t run out of peanuts. Once that happens, Hoover will bid you farewell.

Hoover, the Chipmunk Hoover, the Chipmunk

Hoover (above), named after the vacuum cleaner, has bragged to his neighbors about his ability to charm/con humans out of peanuts. They’ve also seen him in action and are beginning to acquire his skills.

Eureka, the Chipmunk Eureka, the Chipmunk

Eureka, above, and another nearby chipmunk named Dyson, are slowly learning his techniques. Hoover isn’t pleased.

A model working for peanuts

If one of his two neighbors horns in on what he considers his territory, he chases them away. Those critters sneak back when Hoover isn’t watching to get a share of the bounty but it’s obvious Hoover is the dominant chipmunk. You’ll find these three and more near the southern dock behind LaMarsa Restaurant and Hungry Howie’s.

Eureka, the Chipmunk Eureka, the chipmunk, horns into Hoover's territory and learns his begging technigues

I admit there are too many portraits of these critters in this post. Come to the pond and try to resist taking too many shots of these fellows.

Mating stress in drakes

June 17th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

This Mallard drake has been attacked by rival males

Everyone visiting the Brighton millpond at this time of year finds Mallard hens standing in parking lots or on grass a short distance from the pond. It’s a way for them to avoid the advances of drakes that can be very insistent.

Open wounds will heal with timeDrakes also attack rival drakes. This male was found alone at the north end of the pond yesterday. He has bloody open wounds on his head and his demeanor tells me he’s been savaged by other drakes. Sometimes the weaker birds will be killed. Most of the time, the wounded birds will hide in vegetation or leave the pond entirely until they heal. Most wildlife doesn’t want to appear vulnerable to predators or rivals.

I’ve also seen drakes attack injured ducks. It’s a way to reduce the number of rivals or prove one’s dominance. Buttless Bob is perpetually attacked by other males. Apparently his lack of tail feathers signals to the other boys that he is weaker. He does fight back. Still, every year during the mating season, he gets pecked by males until his head is bloodied.

2016 Brood 17

June 17th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

The hen looks a lot like the hen of Brood 14

This has been a busy week of hatchings although the broods have been smaller than usual. I found 2016 Brood 17 on the embankment near the Imagination Station after dark last night. At first, I thought it was Brood 14. There were only 5 ducklings found with the hen but Brood 14 had 7 on June 12 so the loss of two chicks within 4 days isn’t unusual.

2016 Brood 17 was born within the past 24 hours and is comprised of 5 ducklingsEven though the mom resembles the hen in Brood 14, the ducklings are obviously first day birds. Can you imagine how quickly they have to learn to find their own food, flee danger, and follow the orders of their mom? It all begins on their first day of life when they leave the nest and never return to it.

These tykes are sticking close to their mother. It’s the most success method to survive the first few days of life when they can fit in the mouths of gulls, turtles, fish, hawks, owls, and even bullfrogs. By staying closely packed with mom, predators are more likely to view them being a larger animal than they are individually.

Late spring millpond evenings

June 16th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

The Brighton millpond on a late spring evening

We wait six months for spring evenings like several we’ve had this past week. Except for one hot and muggy one, they all have a slight chill that demands a jacket after dark. That’s fine with most people because it also means it’s too brisk for mosquitoes.

Razzle is looking for his girlfriendRazzle (right) and his three amigos are enjoying the weather but have been slightly confused this week. Their favorite female cannot be found. The four drakes have been at the sides of two hens throughout winter and spring. Both have vanished. Zoot might be nesting but I fear Franny has died since she’s been absent for two months now.

Zoot may be in the clutches of a duck rustler. I met a woman who was obviously self-medicated who told me she was a licensed wildlife rehabber. She was attempting to catch ducks who had limps so she could take them to Howell Nature Center. She said one in her possession was having surgery the next day for a broken leg.

I checked with Howell Nature Center. They are the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in Livingston County and have the only licensed wildlife rehabber on their staff. The woman I met at the millpond was lying to me about her license and no ducks from the millpond have arrived at HNC this spring.

This isn’t unusual. Each year, someone takes it upon themselves to “rescue” waterfowl that don’t need rescuing. I explained to the imposter the ducks she was worried about were being monitored. Michigan Duck Rescue is generous with their knowledge and NONE of these birds required medical intervention.

Ducks are resilient. Leg injuries usually heal with time or are permanent conditions that cannot be medically helped. Capturing migrating waterfowl like Mallards or even Canada geese is rarely recommended. It is unlawful for individuals to take it upon themselves to care for them. They have 48 hours to get them to a licensed wildlife rehabber or risk sizable fines for harboring wild animals. Most veterinarians are not licensed to provide medical services to wildlife. So please leave the millpond wildlife alone unless they have life-threatening injuries caused by predators or vehicles. If you have further questions, you may find answers at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website.


2016 Brood 16

June 16th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

2016 Brood 16 has three ducklings

2016 Brood16 found behind the fire station Wednesday eveningWhile I can never be sure about such things, I think 2016 Brood 16 is the same hen who hatched 9 ducklings way back in 2013. She may have had brood each year between then and now. I didn’t poke around in the blog to find out. What’s distinctive about her is her very bright eyebrows and her location in the northern half of the pond.

It hasn’t been a productive year for ducks this summer. It’s my opinion that some hens have been killed by predator while they were on their nests and some others may have been illegally taken. By this time last summer, we had 22 broods hatching at total of 164 ducklings at the pond. This year only 16 broods have hatched a mere 88 ducklings. 2015 was an exceptional year, but still that’s a huge difference.

2016 Brood 15: Monumental!

June 14th, 2016     2 comments     permalink

The missing foot signals this is Blonde Bombshell #2

Blonde Bombshell #2 had a tragic accident in July, 2015. Her right leg became entangled with monofilament fishing line that cut off the circulation. By the time the Hysen family helped catch her, the flesh was falling off her foot.

Michigan Duck Rescue and Sanctuary  was contacted to see if they had room for this domestic duck. BB#2  was caught along with her two surviving ducklings. We didn’t want to separate the trio.

I got periodic reports about her and asked about her in April of this year. Her two youngsters were still at the Sanctuary, but she had vanished. She was a good flyer so it was assumed she had gone to a nearby pond.

One robust, healthy chick survivesInstead, I got a report from a Brighton homeowner they had a blonde duck returned to their property this spring as she had for the past five years. They said she was now missing part of her leg and foot. Bingo! It had to be BB#2. She arrived with ducklings in tow Sunday evening. They were too far away to photograph in the fading light. It appeared she had three ducklings.

She came closer Monday night with one duckling, 2016 Brood 15. She has some difficulty walking but manages. She’s a good swimmer and flyer so she could live several more years. She was transported 20 miles to the Sanctuary but found her way back to the Brighton millpond to nest again this year by using magnetic fields, solar as well as star navigation, landmarks, and I’m sure a touch of magic to get where she wanted to be.

Brood updates

June 14th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

2016brood1-2-_3699_240As previously mentioned, Dot, the hen for 2016 Brood 1 who only has 2 of her original 14 ducklings, has taken on the responsibility of motherhood for the six remaining ducklings from the abandoned 2016 Brood 2. In addition, two other ducklings have joined the party. They are younger and smaller than others so they are younger but I don’t have a clue about their heritage. You can see the newbies in the back of the pack as they paddle to their nighttime roost (right).

2016 Brood 10 has been reduce to only three youngsters. They hatched a month ago and their hen has kept them near the northern end of the pond. I assume that’s because she doesn’t want to deal with overtures from the Mallard drakes wanting her to nest again.

Brood 10 has be reduced to only 3 ducklings

Damsels of both genders?

June 14th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Damselflies appearing to be seeking companionship on Monday nightSummer temperatures bring out insects at the millpond. Most are innocuous but there’s a 30 minute period after sunset when female mosquitoes send brigades out looking for blood.

If you lean against a boardwalk railing in the evening, you’ll see damselflies hanging out. Perhaps this couple is contemplating a late night soiree. Seems redundant to talk about female damselflies and downright strange to discuss male damselflies. Guess it doesn’t matter. I can’t tell females from males anyway. For all I know, these two might be entirely different species.

Damselflies fold their wings over their backs when at rest. Dragonflies’ wings are perpendicular to their bodies when they perch.

2016 Brood 14

June 12th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

2016 Brood 14 has 7 ducklings

2016 Brood 16 was discovered perched on a boulder below the Brighton millpond dam. Some park visitors were concerned the seven 2-day-old ducklings would drown in the rushing water surrounding them. Not a chance. Those little guys are already great swimmers and climbers. They almost hydroplane as they scoot along the surface of the water. You’re welcome to download the top photo and use it as your Cover Image on Facebook. This one is saved at Facebook’s preferred size.

The Mallard hen had the kids on a boulder below the falls With rushing water all around them, the ducklings were in their element

Mom had taken her brood below the falls to avoid the drakes. They are already after her to mate so their prodigy will be added to summer tally of ducklings. So far this year, 82 have hatched and 50% have survived. We’ll get at least another 80 before the season winds down in August if this year follows the norm.

Mom waddled the group along the embankment The ducklings all look like full-blood Mallard


Dot adds another duckling to her brood

June 11th, 2016     4 comments     permalink

Dots band of merry ducklings has grown to tenDot, the hen for 2016 Brood 1, has been taking her two remaining ducklings to the Main Street area to roost for the night. The seven ducklings from 2016 Brood 2 have befriended Dot and her kids so they all travel together. That increases their chances for survival.

Friday night, I noticed the nine ducklings in this combo were joined by a new one. It’s a little smaller than the others so I think it’s younger and is probably the survivor of the two that had been alone for the past 10 days (left).

Meanwhile, Onyx has lost the ninth of her ten ducklings. Last year, she lost all of her ducklings by the fifth day, if I remember correctly. This year, she still has one on its ninth day. She seems attentive so there’s hope her little one will survive to adulthood (below).

2016 Brood 12: Onyx only has one duckling left

A bounty of muskbrats!

June 10th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

I’ve read muskrats can have up to four litters with up to nine kits per litter. That’s 360 muskrats per family and there are an estimated ten muskrat families on the Brighton millpond. That’s a total of adding 3,600 new muskrats on the pond each year. We don’t see anywhere near those extreme numbers. If we get more than a dozen kits reaching adulthood each year, I’d be surprised. Predators, medical conditions, and speeding cars surely take their toll.

With its tail behind it, this muskrat looks like a fuzzy potbelly pig

Over the past six years, I’ve seen no more than two dozen muskrat kits, about three per year. I’m sure many more are born at the pond, but I think parents keep them in burrows until they are big enough to forage by themselves and they grow to adult sized beings quickly.

We’ve had an embarrassment of riches this spring. I’ve already seen at least six of the little fuzz balls in the water and on shore. The one shown here was grazing on grass behind Brighton’s fire station #31 on Thursday. You may see three other kits eating vegetation while floating just north of the Tridge. They are from the same litter living in a burrow along the cemetery’s shore.

A baby muskrat catches me photographing it Muskrats of all ages graze on grass near the millpond

I couldn’t get close to this kit. He bolted into the water. The click-thru images aren’t large or detailed. Maybe the next time I see him, he’ll be more cooperative.

Inches from the shore, when danger threatens, muskrat kits dark into the water

Confirmed: Lunker Pike

June 9th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Northern Pike, June 8, 2016 caught by Clifton at the Brighton millpondFor years, I’ve been told there are large Northern Pike in the Brighton millpond, but I’ve never seen one. This year, I’ve gotten reports of fishermen catching 20, 30, 36 inchers, and an almost-landed one as thick as your thigh. The fishermen are all frequent fishers at the pond and would never exaggerate their catches. Well, maybe not. :-)

Free Fishing Derby for Kids at the Brighton Millpond, June 11, 2016Clifton changed all of that yesterday by photographing his catch before throwing it back. He didn’t weigh or measure it and there’s nothing in the photo to confirm it’s size, but it’s definitely a lunker! Any fisherman would be thrilled to land one of these guys. Come to the millpond and try your luck.

The perfect opportunity is Saturday, June 11, 2016, if you have children. The Brighton Optimists Club are holding their annual Free Fishing Derby for Kids with prizes and pizza for children 6-16 years of age. Children must be supervised by an adult. Registration begins at 7:30am at the millpond’s Gazebo. It’s strictly catch-and-release and lots of FREE fun for the kids as well as the adults. Official rules are here.

She’s not alone

June 9th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

A raccoon was found near a trash bin on May 28This fine raccoon is the first one spotted this season, but I can tell she’s not the only one. Take a moment to see if you can discover the clue before reading on.

Did you note her enlarged breast? That’s a clear sign she’s nursing little ones. I didn’t find them on this night but will soon hear them rustling in the discarded cups and ice cream bowls in the trash bins. Raccoons grow quickly so they appreciate the pizza and sugary treats thrown away by park visitors. They tour the bins each night and scatter wrappers and gooey napkins around the garbage cans while they dig for snacks.

A well-trained chipmunk

June 8th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Few things are more fun to watch than a chipmunk filling his cheeks with peanuts

A chipmunk along the millpond trail has been trained by park visitors to fill his cheeks with peanuts in the shell and take them to his winter stockpile in his burrow under a large cottonwood tree. He’ll have a pantry full of goodies to get him through winter.

You can buy peanuts in the shell at Brighton’s Pet Supplies Plus for about $2.50/pound. A pound will give you an hour’s entertainment giving the rodent food to store. You’ll love every minute of it. He’ll take the nuts right out of your hand but there’s some risk of him biting you so I don’t advise it.* Just set the nuts on the ground in front of you.

He’ll come and stuff his cheeks (above) then run to his burrow. Unless he checks his email and Facebook account, he’ll be back at your feet within 30 seconds to accept more food for his larder. While he’ll accept bread and duck chow (below), they aren’t good food choices for him. Bread is empty calories and duck chow pellets will become gooey messes when stored in his moist burrow.

* There’s a very remote chance he could transmit rabies to you through a bite. Normally, chipmunks aren’t a rabies host. Small mammals bitten by larger rabid animals rarely survive the encounters to then bite a human. Still, you can never be too careful when around a wild animal no matter how cute it is.

The chipmunk will also fill his cheeks with duck chow but it becomes a gooey mess when it gets wet so it won't make it to winter

You’ll find him near the southern dock in the central part of the pond. No appointment is necessary. His name is Hoover. Chipmunks rarely survive being transplanted to new environments so don’t even think of taking him home with you.

The millpond’s two water lilies

June 8th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Bullhead Water Lilies at the Brighton millpond

The days are long enough and the water warm enough to encourage the water lilies to bloom. There are areas in the Brighton millpond where the water lilies are thick.

Seedpods of the Bullhead Water Lilies

Bullhead Water Lilies at the Brighton millpondWe have two species on the millpond. The most abundant is the Bullhead Water Lily (aka: Nuphar lutea). The bright yellow orbs appear to be petals, but they are actually sepals, the shields surrounding a multiple of tiny flowers inside them. Once the flowers are pollinated and die, large seedpods form (above). I’ve seen Canada geese and muskrats munch on the flowers so they must be tasty although I’m not sure if they are edible for humans.

The other water lilies are white and look more like lotus, Nymphaea odorata Aiton (below, right). They aren’t as prevalent as the Bullheads but are more popular with park visitors.

Bullhead and White (r) Water Lilies

2016 Brood 13: Woodies!

June 8th, 2016     0 comments     permalink

Wood Ducks visit the Brighton millpond often, but I’ve never seen them with their young in my seven years observing them. I saw a hen and three very young ducklings at the north end of the pond Tuesday evening. It wasn’t until I got closer I realized they were Wood Ducks. Two LDS elders serving on a mission in Brighton told me they had seen four ducklings with the hen on Monday. Because of their size, I’m guessing the youngsters hatched three days ago.

2016 Brood 13 has a trio of Wood Duck ducklings at the north end of the millpond

In 2015, a Wood Duck nested in a tree near the gazebo, but the family wasn’t seen on the pond. A predator may have discovered the nest before the hatch date. Unlike the Mallards and other dabbling ducks in residence who nest on or near the ground, Wood Ducks nest in hollow trees and nest boxes built by humans. They prefer secluded woodland ponds and are usually very skittish. It’s surprising to find them raising a family in the middle of our city and quite a tribute to the environmental quality of the pond.

Buda: Banished duck king

June 2nd, 2016     1 comment     permalink

Buda roosts alone at the north end of the pond

Buda has been dethroned as an alpha-duck on the Brighton millpond. Pollux who took top honors and now it appears to be the Dixie/Darth tag team. They are chasing the new arrivals (George & Martha) out of the pond daily.

Buda has also separated from his long-time buddy Dexter who is wooing one of the pond’s ravishing hens. So Buda sits alone at the north end of the pond, but he still seeks female companionship. He swims down to where Franny once nested and looks for Calamity and Shine to no avail. Those domestic hens are currently missing. They may be on distant nests so I don’t consider them lost to the ages yet.

Buda's posture isn't looking too chipper lately

You can see Buda isn't preening his feathers wellBuda looks bedraggled these days. I took these shots on a rainy day. That may be why his feathers are soiled. Note how he isn’t preening himself well. Maybe he’s not feeling chipper or a touch of arthritis makes it painful to reach his tail feathers (left). Those aren’t plunked feathers around him (above). They are withered flowers from an Autumn Olive tree above him. He’s one of the oldest domestic ducks on the pond and has survived far beyond expectations. He’s been at the pond longer than I have, 7+ years.

  • Douglas Peterson
    Brighton, Michigan

    Artist • Designer
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    You'll find information about the resident ducks, birds, and critters residing at the Brighton millpond. I slip in my art and poetry, but my photography of wildlife and plants is the primary focus.

    Douglas Alden Peterson
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