Flying Dragons of Summer!

Yellow-legged Meadowhawk in Oakland County, Michigan

Dragonflies have ruled the skies of planet Earth since before the time of the great dinosaurs. They survived cataclysmic extinction events that eliminated other species and set back human evolution. In the blink of an eye, dragonflies can change their flight direction, speed, and elevation with aerodynamic skills that even the most advanced, high-tech drone cannot master. Dragonflies can detect, track, pursue, intercept, catch, and consume flying prey that are plucked from the air. Perhaps this makes them one of nature’s finest tuned killing machines, true masters of aerial predation. Some of these perching “flying dragons” appear to smile, just as this Yellow-legged Meadowhawk seemed to do. 

Yellow-legged Meadowhawk in Oakland County, Michigan
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Pick the Winners for the ‘Oakland Together’ COVID-19 Safety Video & Art Contest

Do you have an eye for visual or video art?

Here’s your chance to pick the winners of the ‘Oakland Together’ Safety Video & Art Contest. Voting is easy and it’s online. Now until 5 p.m. on Friday, August 7th, you can vote once a day to select a favorite video and visual art from two categories: Oakland County youth ages 10-17 and those age 18 and above. The theme was the continuing importance of practicing COVID-19 safety.

Those interested may vote once a day for the entries that best promote and encourage COVID safety. Voters can view the videos and visual art and vote for as many finalists across any of the categories at Voting ends on Friday, August 7th at 5 p.m. The finalists in each category who receives the most public votes will be the winners.

“We have some incredibly talented people who have shown their passion and creativity in capturing the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “Each of these artists has embraced the message that the virus is still with us and working as Oakland Together is the most effective way for us to beat COVID-19. I congratulate them all and thank them for their entries.”

The four finalists in the age 10-17 Visual Arts category are:

  • Rave Andrews, 16, West Bloomfield
  • Maria Clark, 10, Berkley
  • Steven Lowenberg, 13, Southfield
  • Natalie Radabaugh, 16, Rochester Hills

The finalists in the 18 and over Visual Arts category are:

  • Angela Clark, Berkley
  • Sydni Gothard, Waterford
  • Paul O’Hara, Rochester Hills

The finalists in the age 10-17 Video category are:

  • Owen Glossinger, 15, Beverly Hills
  • Charlisa Penzak, 12, Bloomfield Hills
  • Lucy Thomson, 12, Clawson
  • Aidan Wilson, 11, Royal Oak

The finalists in the age 18 and over Video category are:

  • Edith Dana, Commerce Township
  • A’Kena LongBenton, Troy
  • Eli Sider, Huntington Woods

The contest was open to original artwork submitted by the original creator, including but not limited to video, painting, drawing, photography, illustration and printmaking. Artwork was to promote and encourage COVID safety, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state of Michigan protocols.

A panel of judges selected the top entries from each age group and category. Criteria included creativity, overall artistic impact in communicating safety during COVID-19 and skill in mastering the chosen medium. Each finalist will receive $100; category winners will each be awarded an additional $250 for a total of $350 combined with their finalist prize.

Winners will be announced Tuesday, August 11th, and their entries will be displayed virtually on the county’s website,, social media channels and  through September 30th.

They will also be considered for use in upcoming public service announcements. The artists will be given credit if their creations are used.

Goldfinches Love Thistles!

A Goldfinch in Oakland County, Michigan

The American Goldfinch is among the most colorful and musical bird you will find in an Oakland County summer. Even a novice birder, such as myself, can identify Goldfinches with ease. Goldfinches are members of the finch family, as their name implies, and are not “wild canaries” as they are sometimes mistakenly called. The male’s eye-catching, gold and black plumage of summer is unmistakable. With a bit of experience, Goldfinches are recognizable from the distance by both their undulating, roller coaster like flight pattern and flight song. They thrive in the rural, thistle-rich fields of our county and are very much at home in the open spaces of parks, trail edge zones, and many of our urban and suburban neighborhoods.   

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Pleasurable Summer Paddles

Kayaking in Oakland County, Michigan


An early morning paddle as the sun climbs over the horizon is the perfect way to start a nature-embracing summer day in the wilder side of Oakland County. The morning mist is magical as water drips off paddles and Great Blue Herons stalk the shallows. For the night owls, paddle out into a magical time of day, a few hours before dusk to catch the moon’s shadow shimmering on the water and beavers slapping their broad tails against the water to warn of your stealthy approach. Regardless of your time preference, Oakland County waters await your canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board adventures!

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The Mighty Osprey!


Majestic! Magnificent! Unforgettable! Those three words do a superb job of describing an Osprey’s behavior when it’s time to fish for dinner. Ospreys are amazing fish-hunting birds that are found along ocean coasts as well as the shorelines of many large lakes and wide rivers on all continents, excluding Antarctica. They are a truly remarkable raptors, well deserving of their colloquial name, the Fish-Hawk.

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