Geese on the Wilder Side of Oakland County

Two geese and their goslings swim through duck-weed covered water. A painted turtle sunbathes on a log close by.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Not all Oakland County geese spend their days grazing out in the open on lawns, golf courses, the greens of schools and college campuses, and along the shorelines of our multi-sport lakes. Nor do all geese exhibit aggressive behavior when a human meanders too close to a nesting site that’s hidden in office-plaza shrubbery or along a popular and well-traversed trail. Some are more reclusive and head to secluded swamps and woodland ponds when it’s nesting time. This is their story and brings to mind the first sentence of Aldo Leopold’s classic book of nature essays, A Sand County Almanac (Leopold, 1949): “There are some who can live with wild things, and some who cannot.” I look to the woodland geese as wild things.

Continue reading

Gray Squirrels: Nature’s Adaptable Acrobats

A gray squirrel stands on its hind legs on a rock

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

An unexpected encounter last month, while inspecting my Screech Owl nesting box, served as a reminder that assumptions of any kind may be wrong, especially when it comes to less-than-attentive observations of nature’s way. I had assumed the nest box to be empty since I had not noticed any activity, nor had I heard any of the whinny-like nighttime and territorial trills of this rather common cavity-nesting species of owl.

Continue reading

Oakland County’s Vernal Ponds – Alive With Wood Frogs!

Photo credit: Taylor Reynolds

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

We knew winter really was over and spring was firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County when my hiking companion and I unexpectedly encountered an ancient amphibian ritual deep in the woods of Bald Mountain Recreation Area. Although light rain fell the evening before, the sun was shining. Only a few, very small remnants of snow remained on north facing slopes of the glacially sculpted, wooded hills, and the temperature had just reached 55°F. Those environmental conditions were perfect for the encounter that was about to occur.

Continue reading

One Week into the Wonders of Spring!

An Eastern Bluebird looks down from his perch on a branch, the background in the image is blurred.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“At the end of winter, there is a season in which we are daily expecting spring, and finally a day when it arrives.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)

The Spring Equinox is an exciting symbol of rebirth, growth, and awakening. Creatures that hibernated are stirring, birds are returning from distant lands, and the earliest of spring’s woodland wildflowers are pushing up through thawing soils. For me, that moment of recognition of the passing of winter was not the appearance of lawn-hopping robins or the emergence of crocuses. It occurred on the first day of spring at Bear Creek Nature Park in Oakland Township. That’s where a friend and I watched an Eastern Bluebird perched on a tree limb, waiting for an insect to appear in the meadow below. Perhaps its sudden downwards plunge and the capture of a bug that followed was confirmation to the bluebird that, as Thoreau once wrote, “ . . . and finally a day when it arrives.”

Continue reading

It’s All Happening at the Detroit Zoo!

A young Japanese macaque monkey holds a leaf and studies it with its mother

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The dawn of spring is just hours away and activity at the Detroit Zoo is full speed ahead. Today’s Wilder Side of Oakland County nature and trails blogs shares a blue-sky exploratory adventure, including seven favorite wildlife encounters and a look at one of the behind-the-scenes operations of this world class zoo that’s operated by the Detroit Zoological Society and located in southernmost Oakland County.

Continue reading