Creepy Crawly Wondrous Walkingsticks

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Even with near record-breaking heat earlier this week, the season of encountering six-legged, creepy crawly things is slowly winding down. There are exceptions, and leading the pack of exceptions in Oakland County is the Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata). These well camouflaged creatures spend most of the summer in the canopy of our oak trees, but as the days shorten they descend to lower levels and surprise encounters become more frequent when they meander onto shrubs, porches, and the sunny sides of homes and outbuildings.
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Poison Sumac: An Autumn Beauty to Avoid

Autumn is the season for a plethora of nature-embracing outdoor activities under canopies of kaleidoscope colored leaves and restless winds. It’s the time to hike the woodlands, explore our network of cyclist friendly trails, fish, camp, share a quiet picnic on a lakeside hilltop, and kayak our beautiful lakes in a soon to be mosquito-free environment. It’s the season when young children chase after long-leaping leopard frogs hidden in moist meadows and collect colorful leaves for their parents. Autumn accelerates our hunt for wild mushrooms, with chicken of the woods being at the top of the list, and entices foragers to gather the last of the wild blackberries. We dodge falling black walnuts and bid farewell to Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Sandhill Cranes and Ospreys in these early days of autumn. Perhaps best of all, we are at the cusp of the season to embrace pumpkin-spiced everything! Continue reading

A First Look at Holly Oaks ORV Park

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was tasked many years ago with developing an opportunity for off-road vehicle recreation in southeast Michigan, a venture that would also reduce illegal and dangerous riding on utility corridors and railway beds, as well as in parks and on private lands. Oakland County had depleted sand and gravel mines that were unlikely to ever be redeveloped for residential or commercial use because of noise from I-75 and challenging topography. It was a marriage that was meant to be and after years of labor pains, the result will soon emerge as Holly Oaks ORV Park, the first ORV Park in Oakland County.  It will be the second state park in Michigan to be jointly managed by the state and a county parks agency. Continue reading

A Dark Secret of Doll’s Eyes

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As summer fades, Oakland County woodlands and meadows present new opportunities to forage from Mother Nature’s pantry. I look forward to many of our seasonal treats, especially the prized and often hard to find oyster mushrooms, the far more bountiful blackberries, wild grapes, elderberries and black walnuts. The delectable tubers of Jerusalem artichoke, as well as the invasive, but tasty and healthful, berries of autumn olive are other seasonal favorites of mine. Continue reading

When Thunder Roars!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The sultry days of summer have faded, but the season of powerful electrical storms is not over in Oakland County, or for the rest of our Great Lake State. Nature’s way does not always follow the calendar and in the last few weeks I’ve witnessed boaters on our local lakes pursuing their passion as thunder was clearly audible, picnickers waiting out a storm under an open picnic shelter instead of retreating to their cars (a much safer option), and most worrisome, kids playing sports in fields to the accompaniment of not so distant thunder. Continue reading