Fungi, Flowers, Glaciers & Yoga: A Lost Lake Nature Park Adventure

A group of people walk along a trail foraging for mushrooms on an overcast day.

The woodlands of Oakland County are a sensory delight after a rainy September day. The forest floor takes on a richer scent, flowers smell sweeter, fungi flourishes and a very fortune few have chance to sniff chanterelles. The cherished funnel-shaped fungus has a slight apricot-like aroma and is one of the most sought after and delectable mushrooms in these waning days of summer. Searching for chanterelles almost makes me forget about morels, that is until next spring. It was a public program last Sunday morning titled “Fall Mushrooms of Michigan” that lured me back to Lost Lake Nature Park, a 56-acre park administered by Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Commission. I wanted to find a chanterelle. Continue reading

Ethics, Wildlife and the “Perfect Photo”

A coyote stands at attention on dune filled with weeds and wildflowers

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

It happens about once a month. I receive a question about a wildlife photo that’s included in my Wilder Side of Oakland County blog, or that I have shared on Facebook or used in a presentation. “How close were you to get the photo?” is the most common question. I try to answer as honestly as I can, even when the answer is, “I’m not real sure, I was focused on watching its behavior and just kept clicking.” I smile when the other type of question comes my way, “I hope you did not scare it away!” I interpret that as coming from someone who was raised to not disturb wildlife: a person that practices ethical photography when it comes to wildlife – even if they don’t realize it.

Buck in autumn wildflower meadow Continue reading

Wild Weeds and a Pontiac Urban Garden

A man and woman walk through plots in a community garden. The sky above is blue with puffy clouds.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” His words often come to mind on my meandering adventures in our wildlands, however I did not expect them to spring to life most delightfully in highly urbanized Pontiac. But they did in the early evening of August 22nd. It all started after reading about an upcoming event in Pontiac with a catchy title that perked my interest: Herb Walk: What’s that weed?

I was not sure what to expect so I dug a bit deeper and found more information on the Facebook site of Growing Pontiac that included this, “Have you ever wondered what that pesky weed was in your yard? Why does it keep coming back even after you pull the root out? Join us in the field at the old Webster Elementary School for a wild plant walk where you’ll be introduced to the plants and herbs that are growing all around you. You will learn to identify our local plants and hear how they can be used in everyday life!” Continue reading

Tigers on the Wind: A Swallowtail Soirée

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is one of the most elegant butterfly species that flutters above the meadows and flower gardens of Oakland County. They are not as much of a “media-hog” as our milkweed loving monarch butterflies, nor do they undertake long border crossing migrations, but as for their visibility in these waning days of August—the beautiful swallowtails win hands down.

Don’t get me wrong. I like monarchs and often attend our local monarch butterfly festivals, but our “tigers on the wind,” the eastern tiger swallowtails, barely get a public notice even with their nearly five-inch wing spans. Perhaps they should, for they are appearing in the urban areas of Novi, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Rochester, and as to be expected they are fluttering about rural fields and the wide open spaces of our Huron-Clinton Metro Parks, Oakland County Parks, and the expansive State Recreation Areas managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It’s almost impossible to hike or bike down the Paint Creek, Polly Ann or Clinton River Trails on a sunny day without taking note of their mesmerizing appearance on trailside wildflowers. With those thoughts in mind, and no disrespect meant to the monarch lovers (count me among them) here’s a snapshot salute to the swallowtails, for in the world of nature all things are connected. Continue reading

“Slow Row LO” Adventuring on Lakeville Lake

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

There are many ways to explore the wilder side of Oakland County during the sultry days of summer. Paddling our lakes and meandering rivers is one of the most exciting ways. The ever-changing views, sounds, and scents noted from within a canoe or kayak captures the wildness of nature, and of course it’s a healthful activity as well. I recently had the opportunity to explore a paddling location that was new to me, at a later time of day than I normally paddle. Today’s adventuresome and rather fun tale from the wilder side of Oakland County shares details from that exploration and starts with an introduction to Slow Row LO. Continue reading