Aldo Leopold wrote: “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” I consider myself an unabashed member of the latter group. Coyotes certainly represent “wild things,” but they are not restricted to rural sections of our county. They are extremely adaptable creatures, and it’s perfectly normal for them to be noticed not only in our State Recreation Areas, Oakland County Parks, and Huron-Clinton Metroparks, but also in our suburban and urban areas. Coyotes are found in every city and town in our county, including populous Pontiac, Royal Oak, and Rochester, nor are they strangers to the city of Detroit.
This excellent video of a coyote hunting meadow voles in a roadside field at Detroit’s Rouge Park, as a deer casually watched, was filmed last week and shared with me by my nature friend, Donna Croaker Hall.
Thanksgiving feasts of golden roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, and tangy cranberry sauce, accompanied by alluring arrays of delectable garnishments and mouth-watering pumpkin pie await. It’s a beautiful looking meal. About the only thing more eye-catching than a ready-to-be-carved Thanksgiving turkey, is a Wild Tom Turkey strutting his stuff in the woods of Oakland County.
It goes without saying that if you spend the day constantly hitting your forehead against a tree trunk, you will end up with a severe headache, at the very least. A concussion or brain injury may be more likely, but that’s not so for a woodpecker. Woodpeckers can spend all day pounding their heads against tree trunks at 20 times per second in search of hidden grubs and hibernating bugs and then come back for more pounding the next day. The activity is so fast that the human eye does not even notice that with each successful pounding, a woodpecker’s beak penetrates the bark, and its long sticky tongue zips in and out, snagging hidden insects and larvae.
Oakland County is a landscape created by the incredible power of glaciers. Glacial erratics are perhaps the most intriguing of all our glacial landforms, but the name “erratic” often causes confusion for those unaware of our natural history and the science behind glacial geology. It should not be, for in reality, there is nothing mysterious about those two words: glacial erratic, when they are used in combination. Glacial erratics are rocks and boulders of any size that were scraped up from the earth, or fractured from bedrock by a glacier, and then carried by the glacier, and finally deposited in an erratic fashion as the glaciers melted and retreated. That event last occurred during the end of the Pleistocene Epoch about 13,000 years ago, a time we refer to as the Ice Age. It was the time glaciers covered much of our planet and created the landforms and lakes of present-day Oakland County.
The ephemeral beauty of eye-catching October tree colors faded as the winds of November strengthened. But what a month it was to explore nature’s artistic way in Oakland County and the rest of Michigan. Hikers and trail runners often paused in our parks to observe perhaps the best kaleidoscope of leaf colors in a decade, a gift from Mother Nature that coincided with an equally colorful forest floor display of fantastic fungi. Gone are the bold, brilliant shades of deep orange of sugar maples. Gone are the reddish hues of sassafras, sumacs, and red maples. Gone are the dazzling, wind-driven yellow “sparkles” of aspen leaves that quaked in gusts of wind.