A Winter Season Appetizer?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

On the sunny afternoon of Friday, November 9th, I hiked the heavily wooded northern section of the Ortonville State Recreation Area and was surprised to discover thin layers of ice had formed on small hidden lakes located between the steep hills of this State protected wildland. Dry leaves, pushed by gentle winds, seemingly danced across the frozen surfaces and my hiking companion and I joked that it almost looked like winter arrived early, especially when we noted traces of snow from the night before on fallen logs and fungi. Continue reading

The Old Mill at the Top of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

If it was not for springs bubbling up through the glacially sculpted hills of what is now the Ortonville State Recreation Area, and Kearsley Creek meandering through fertile woodlands, there might never have been a Village of Ortonville. And there certainly would not be an Old Mill Museum located at the “top” of Oakland County. Brandon Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman described the mill to me this way last month, “The Old Mill Museum is one of the finest gems in downtown Ortonville.” I agree. Continue reading

Seven Trails for May

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” That often quoted sentence from John Muir takes on a special meaning for me in May, for May is the month that I am most often asked, “Where should I hike?” There is no easy answer, but May is the perfect season to enter the world of hiking for pleasure, and if the word “hiking” sounds too rigorous, just call it “meandering.” The results will be the same; for hiking is fun, healthful and there are bonuses in May: The beauty of ephemeral woodland wildflowers, the delightful songs of birds, and the choruses of frogs and trilling of toads will be your trail companions. Meander along slowly on your new adventure, stop often, look and listen and you will find more than you seek.

Today I share snippets of seven trails that are perfect for Oakland County trail meanderers, trails where the magic and music of nature’s way in May unfolds. Continue reading

Hike for Your Health at Ortonville State Recreation Area!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.”

John Muir’s memorable words inspire adventurers to hike, and that’s a good thing. Hiking is excellent for our health and general well-being, and it doesn’t require a gym membership or any expensive equipment to get started. Being out in fresh air and away from the chaos of our daily lives, the frustration of traffic jams, and distracting technology allow us to reconnect with nature’s way, and that creates a feeling of peace and a sense of well-being. And any hike through a beautiful forested area, even when trails may be slippery as the duel between winter and spring accelerates, can calm nerves and lift our spirits. Hiking is also fun! Continue reading

A Thanksgiving Feast – For the Birds

A woodpecker nibbles on suet from a caged bird feeder, while a female cardinal and several yellow finches eat black oil sunflower seeds from a hanging tray beneath it. It's a wintery day and snow is blowing sideways.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Wintery weather arrived early in Oakland County and with it came a flurry of bird feeding questions; among the top of the list were two questions. The first was actually more of a comment with a negative connotation, but I considered it an implied question: “Squirrels keep robbing seed from my feeders!” The second most common question contained various renditions of how to attract birds “that I want to see.” The answer to both is a three-part answer; it’s all about food, location and accessibility. If you are a veteran bird feeder, you’ve probably gained lots of insight into the foods “backyard birds” prefer and how to present them and most likely have accepted the fact that squirrels are one of nature’s most resourceful, and perhaps cunning creatures. One fact is clear. If your feeder offers food they want, squirrels will spend hours, perhaps days, first exploring and then exploiting ways to reach it. But if you’re just getting started in the immensely popular hobby of winter bird feeding, today’s pre-Thanksgiving Day blog may reduce frustration over initial attempts to attract winter birds to your feeders. It’s also good to know that sometimes after a new feeder goes up, it may take a while for birds to come in and feed. I often see cardinals perched in a nearby tree when I refill my feeder, but twenty or thirty minutes may pass before they fly down to feed. Continue reading