A Winter Season Appetizer?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

On the sunny afternoon of Friday, November 9th, I hiked the heavily wooded northern section of the Ortonville State Recreation Area and was surprised to discover thin layers of ice had formed on small hidden lakes located between the steep hills of this State protected wildland. Dry leaves, pushed by gentle winds, seemingly danced across the frozen surfaces and my hiking companion and I joked that it almost looked like winter arrived early, especially when we noted traces of snow from the night before on fallen logs and fungi. Continue reading

Adventuring Up North at Stony Creek!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A dusting of Halloween night snow whitened the hills of northern Oakland County, confirming the duel between autumn and winter has accelerated. In anticipation of that forecasted seasonal change, I accepted the invitation of two outdoor adventuring ICU nurses that are avid hikers to join them for an “up north feeling” trek at Stony Creek Metropark, one of 13 parks in Southeast Michigan managed by Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Our destination for the last hike of October was the southwest corner of Stony Creek, the section that is located entirely within Oakland County and has thirteen miles of hilly trails dedicated to mountain bikers, hikers, and perhaps in a few more weeks, if Mother Nature is willing, and it looks that way, cross-country skiers. Continue reading

Migrate, Stay Active, or Hibernate?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Pumpkins were laced with frost last Saturday morning and that sudden temperature plunge sent motorists scrambling for window scrapers as squirrels went into overdrive nut gathering mode. Hours of daylight are diminishing and leaves are cascading downwards with each gust of wind. Although some humans head south for the entire winter, most of us simply adapt to the cold with heavier coats, warm houses, vacation dreams and weather-adjusted outdoor plans. But what about the wildlife in our midst as temperatures continue to fall and food gets harder to find? They have three choices: migrate, stay active, or hibernate. Continue reading

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes of October

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The woods and lakeshores of Oakland County have accelerated their seasonal transition with cool breezes and colorful leaves, luring hikers and cyclists to our trails, picnickers and late season kayakers to our parks and lakes, and large numbers of residents to our cider mills. Just like humans, wildlife creatures are soaking up the sun during the shortening days of our autumn season, including the only venomous snake found in Oakland County, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Continue reading