October Splendor, Adventure, Awareness and Safety

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The splendor of October swept into Oakland County on schedule with traces of frost on the first day of the month. Hours of daylight are shortening, but opportunities for trailside adventure and colorful kayaking adventures are increasing. It’s a month of cider-making, corn mazes and pumpkin hunting. October is the time to watch geese high overhead, listen to trumpeting of Sandhill Cranes, and celebrate Eastern Bluebirds beneath a clear blue sky. Set out an autumn bird bath, and it just may lure these beautiful birds, and a House Finch or two, as quickly as late season wildflowers lure honey bees. The days of October are in a word, glorious for all that love nature’s way and the hundreds of miles of trails that enrich our county and increase accessibility to our woodlands, wildlands and parks. Continue reading

Independence North: The Northern Jewel Of Independence Oaks County Park

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

My early morning hike of solitude on a sultry summer day at Independence Oaks County Park – North was a near magical experience. Wispy cirrus clouds added definition to the clear blue sky. Spider webs sparkled with diamonds of dew. Sandhill cranes trumpeted from a wet meadow. An American Goldfinch and an Eastern Kingbird perched in treetops to bask in sunlight, as did a Red-tailed Hawk high up on a transmission line tower. The music of crickets and the rustle of aspen leaves in the morning’s gentle breeze softened the rumble of traffic on nearby Sashabaw Road. That all happened in the first ten minutes last Sunday morning. The next ten minutes were well-spent grazing on juicy blackberries, suffering some significant scratches in the process. A sudden faint buzzing sound near the base of the shrubs made me wonder if there was a hidden cicada down low. Or perhaps, just perhaps, an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake thought I was too close. The blackberry thicket would be a good place for a rattler to ambush a mouse. So I hiked on, that mystery unsolved. Continue reading

EASTERN BLUEBIRDS of OAKLAND (with tributes from Thoreau)

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the flora and fauna of a town.” Henry David Thoreau

Eastern bluebirds have at long last announced the delayed arrival of spring to Oakland County with flight and song. Their brilliant royal blue backs and rusty brown breasts add rich warmth to fields and meadows laced with remnants of crusty ice and slushy snow. Perhaps these beautiful members of the thrush family responded to the words of Thoreau:   “His soft warble melts in the ear, as the snow is melting in the valleys around. The bluebird comes and with his warble drills the ice and sets free the rivers and ponds and frozen grounds…the leading edge of spring.”

Continue reading