Summer is the season nature’s way may appear to slow, but that only holds true for those that do not venture out onto our trails or into our parks and wildlands. Walk alone in solitude in the dawn’s early light and the landscape will come alive with hidden secrets, or hike with your nature-embracing companion, and pleasures will increase through the art of sharing. Walk slowly, stop often, look, and listen, and a new world of nature will spring to life. I thought about and now share, some of my favorite creatures that thrive on the wilder side of Oakland County as the dawn of the summer solstice draws near.
I never knew Black-billed Cuckoos existed until a few hours after an early evening encounter near the end of May, and that’s where this bird tale begins. First, however, I must establish I do not qualify as a “birder” by any means. I have no interest in creating a life list of bird species I have seen, but I take great pleasure in watching Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeder and listening to the cheerful song of House Wrens nesting in my arbor.
“Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life.” – Charles Darwin
Darwin’s timeless quote might just be the perfect mantra for the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), the largest frog in North America. This giant of a frog is heard far more often than seen. It is a major player in Oakland County ponds and wetlands and an integral part of its watery environment.
Bullfrogs can weigh well over a pound and be almost eight inches long. Their appetite is even larger than their size. Unlike other frogs that just wait patiently at the edge of a swamp to snag a passing bug or dragonfly with a lightning-fast sticky tongue, bullfrogs lunge open-mouthed at unsuspecting passing prey.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)
Nature’s way springs to life in May with greening of the woodlands, the blooming of wildflowers, bird song at sunrise, and delightfully longer hours of daylight. It’s the month that not just every naturally curious child, but every adult, should embrace the joys of nature’s way. May is also a month of surprising finds and totally unexpected encounters in wetlands, woodlands, and along our trails.
Oakland County Executive David Coulter Celebrates Resilience of Residents, Employees, and Businesses During Pandemic
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter declared his vision for building Oakland County’s future now in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic during his 2021 State of the County address Wednesday evening. It included an announcement that the Oakland80 initiative, geared to leading our state in getting 80 percent of the county’s adults a college education or certificate training by 2030, will kick off later this year by providing navigators and success coaches to help residents plot out their career goals.
“We don’t need to wait for the end of this pandemic to build our future. We must start now, “ said Coulter, who premiered his annual speech on social media from Stagecrafters at the Baldwin Theater in Royal Oak without an in-person audience present due to coronavirus precautions. “The Oakland80 program will get underway this summer and will fan out across the county to give residents the assistance they need to complete college credits or skilled training programs.”