One Week into the Wonders of Spring!

An Eastern Bluebird looks down from his perch on a branch, the background in the image is blurred.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“At the end of winter, there is a season in which we are daily expecting spring, and finally a day when it arrives.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)

The Spring Equinox is an exciting symbol of rebirth, growth, and awakening. Creatures that hibernated are stirring, birds are returning from distant lands, and the earliest of spring’s woodland wildflowers are pushing up through thawing soils. For me, that moment of recognition of the passing of winter was not the appearance of lawn-hopping robins or the emergence of crocuses. It occurred on the first day of spring at Bear Creek Nature Park in Oakland Township. That’s where a friend and I watched an Eastern Bluebird perched on a tree limb, waiting for an insect to appear in the meadow below. Perhaps its sudden downwards plunge and the capture of a bug that followed was confirmation to the bluebird that, as Thoreau once wrote, “ . . . and finally a day when it arrives.”

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Nature’s Way Almanac 2021

4x3 tiles in a collage of nature scenes

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“January observations can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost as continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who had done what, but to speculate why.” A Sand County Almanac (Leopold, 1949)

We are two weeks into the new year, and with increased hours of daylight, we have more time to both observe and to speculate about the “whys” of nature’s way. For some of the answers, naturalists look to phenology: the study of how the life cycles of all animals and plants change in response to seasons and varying conditions such as temperature, length of daylight, soil moisture, and climate change. Here’s a look ahead to a new year of nature’s way in the world of phenology.

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Nature’s Way Almanac 2020

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

January

January is the month that some lament the onslaught of winter storms, but for those that love the ways of nature, it’s a month of grand adventure and discovery. It’s a time to hike and breathe deeply under evergreen trees and, if Mother Nature cooperates, snowshoe on backcountry trails. It’s a refreshing time of renewal. Pileated Woodpeckers, our red-crested forest giant and the largest woodpecker of North America, chisel deep rectangular shaped holes into dead trees in their search for carpenter ants and other meaty morsels. January 10th bring us the wolf moon. There are no wolves in Oakland County, but listen for the night howling and yips of eastern coyotes that have adapted to our ways on that full moon night. January is full speed ahead for cottontail rabbits. Some scrounge under bird feeders for food while others stay hidden under shrubs, venturing about after dark in a world full of predators. Continue reading

Ten Signs Summer is Fading

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The beauty and wonder of nature’s way as summer slowly fades welcome us to the trails, woodlands, wildlands, rivers and fields of Oakland County. Walk slowly, stop often, look and listen and it’s easy to sense the slowing pulse of the season. The official end of summer does not occur until the Autumnal Equinox; that’s on September 23rd, but the approach of Labor Day weekend signals that summer is in its waning days. And with next week being the final full week of the unofficial end of summer, today I salute ten signs of the season’s transition from summer to autumn. Some are subtle, and some can’t be missed.

This Top Ten ramble was inspired by Dmitri Schoeman who shared his encounter with nature’s way with photos captured last week in Columbia, South Carolina. “I was walking the dog when I saw something in an odd shade of green and went over to see what it was.” For the next hour he watched the emergence of a cicada as it wiggled out of its exoskeleton. His photos might well be entitled “Alien Birth,” for they capture the emergence of an other-worldly looking winged creature as it slowly abandoned its exoskeleton. Continue reading