October Gold: Adventures and Situational Awareness

A view of tall trees in fall colors from across a body of water. Deep oranges, yellows, and green reflect brilliantly on top of the water.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October heralds the peak beauty of autumn’s colors; that alone makes this month special. We are in the season of crisp morning air, fast-moving clouds, clear night sky and the last blooms of meadow wildflowers. It’s a month of roaming raccoons, woolly bear caterpillar, owls hooting, coyotes yipping, hyper-active squirrels scurrying, restless bucks in rut and osprey departing. October means scarlet sky sunsets, first frost and sudden outbursts of short-lived snowflakes. October is truly the golden month for those that love nature’s way, and perhaps the very best time to hike and explore the wilder side of Oakland County. Continue reading

Michigan’s Most Endangered Species

Poweshiek Skipperling

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Beautiful and Rare, Springfield Township discusses an endangered butterfly, pictured above by CMU Research Assistant Michael Belitz.

“Springfield Township’s Shiawassee Basin Preserve, known for protecting one of the highest quality prairie fen wetlands in Michigan, is also one of the last places on earth to sustain a critically endangered butterfly known as the Poweshiek Skipperling. The Poweshiek Skipperling is a small (<1.25” wingspan) butterfly that depends on high quality prairie habitats like our fen for its survival. Until recently, the Poweshiek was one of the most common prairie butterflies in North America, being found in many states and provinces from the Great Plains region to the Midwest, but around 2005 the population began a mysterious decline in abundance. Today, there are less than five hundred individuals occurring in only a handful of locations across their former range.”

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Northern Water Snakes and You

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Summer is here and we love to be near water…and so do northern water snakes.

Contrary to myth and urban legend, the northern water snake is not a cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), the only venomous water snake in the United States. The cottonmouth, sometimes called a water moccasin, is found in the Southeast, ranging from southern Virginia to Florida and west to East Texas. The only venomous snake in Oakland County is the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and the behavior of the northern water snake and eastern massasauga rattlesnake have little in common. Our native rattler tends to be reclusive and is seldom seen. The northern water snake is often seen, and almost always at the water’s edge. Continue reading