Do Coyotes Really Lurk?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

It happens every summer, a coyote is noticed for a fleeting moment in Oakland County and suddenly neighborhood Facebook chat groups explode with sensationalized reports of a coyote that is “lurking” about.

Words have power. “A deer was lurking in the woods and watching me” would be a laughable sentence. But when it comes to coyote sightings, “lurking” seems to be a word that makes its way into a descriptive sentence. Coyotes don’t lurk. They watch. They listen. They sniff. They observe. They act. And they respond to human behavior. 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

Summer Solstice – Nature’s Way

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The summer solstice officially arrives in Oakland County today, June 21st at 11:54 a.m. EST. This annual astronomical phenomenon heralds the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and conversely, brings the shortest night. The longest day of the year, and all the days of summer that follow, are ideal for exploring the ways of nature in the wilds, and the not so wilds of Oakland County. The Farmer’s Almanac may be a great resource to follow seasonal changes and weather predictions, but just a simple walk in the woods and on the trails of Oakland County will confirm that summer is really here, and so today, I share some of my favorite natural confirmations of summer. Continue reading

Who’s Doing the Tall Bloomin’ of June?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the month of May faded, frisky fawns frolicking in meadows drew attention away from emerging spring wildflowers. But by the middle of June, the fawns will retreat into the protective shelter of woodlands where they will continue to learn the ways of the wild under the watchful eyes of the does. The meadows, woodlands edge and lakeshores are now ablaze with some of summer’s finest and tallest wildflowers, and by the time the heat of July takes hold, they will be at peak beauty. A half dozen of our tallest and most beautiful wildflowers of summer are now competing for center stage, and the fawns go unnoticed. Continue reading

The Giant Water Bug of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

This mystery bug is not reluctant to take on prey many times its size. It’s a fierce predator with a pair of powerful forelegs that are tipped with hook-shaped claws to grasp and hold prey. And then the real nightmare begins, for this voracious predator of Oakland County with a seemingly endless appetite is equipped with a rostrum, a beak-like projection that is used to pierce flesh and then inject a potent enzyme that poisons and begins to digest the victim while it’s still alive. Once the enzyme does its work and liquefies the internal parts of the sometimes still squirming victim, the rostrum is used to suck up the slurpee-like partially digested soupy mix of flesh. That’s not science fiction; that is science and the ambush hunting behavior of the Giant Water Bug. And yes, they do live in Oakland County. Continue reading