Brandon Township’s Crown Jewel

Brandon Township Community Park entrance sign

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A common misconception exists that one must travel “up north” to enjoy a few hours of nature’s way or just escape life’s daily hustle and bustle. Not so. The splendor of exploring easily accessible nature is never far away; a fact I encounter over and over no matter where I am. Sometimes you just need to know where to go!

In early May, I shared my nature-embracing adventure at the Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights. Today, I’m highlighting my visit from the middle of May to a lesser-known park with a “Living Tree Library” in northernmost Oakland County that’s located just shy of the Genesee County line.

The Brandon Township Community Park encompasses 33 acres and is managed by Brandon Township Parks and Recreation. Just like Red Oaks Nature Center, the park has an easily accessible paved trail. I look at it as the township’s crown jewel, a site hidden away in plain sight that’s open to the public free of charge.

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Tree Swallow Tales

Tree Swallow on tree stump

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Tree Swallows are eye-catching aerialists with iridescent blue-green feathers and brilliant white fronts. Now that summer draws near, these beautiful birds are pursuing flying insects when they are not perched on nesting boxes, branches, or tree stumps. Their acrobatic twists, turns, dives, dramatic climbs, and changing of direction make capturing a photo in flight extremely challenging. However, the Tree Swallow pictured above, landed on a wetland tree stump and seemingly posed for a photo. The photo also gives a clue to the origin of their name.

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Red Oaks Nature Center – An Urban Gem

Exterior photo of building at Red Oaks Nature Center

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Natural wonders of spring are appearing along the trails and in the woods of Red Oaks Nature Center in the City of Madison Heights. If you are a birder, this hotspot of biodiversity is one of the best places to be in these early days of May. I was there earlier this week on an overcast morning that hinted of rain to come. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a watchful snacking squirrel perched on the edge of the parking lot fence.

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Magnificent Morels of May!

Two morel mushrooms

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“April showers bring May flowers.” We heard that saying frequently when the spring rains came and crocuses and daffodils bloomed. April showers, however, bring more than May flowers. They create ideal emergence conditions for morel mushrooms (Morchella esculenta).    

In this blog post, Magnificent Morels of May, readers will be introduced to the basics of morels and morel hunting, with a word of necessary caution: never consume any wild fungus unless you know its identity and edibility with 100 percent certainty. Although all of the accompanying photos show morel mushrooms, there is a great variation in the color and size of individual specimens. Some morels are so large you could insert a smaller one inside as an eye-catching photo opportunity!

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