Yellow Goat’s Beard of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

In the sultry days of August, meadows, fields and un-mowed roadsides of rural sections of Oakland County present colorful potpourris of wildflowers of every size and shape. Many are native species, others are naturalized plants that crossed the oceans with early immigrants and now thrive in our midst. The flowers attract butterflies and insects of all sorts, as well as human admirers. Among the mix in Oakland County is Tragopogon dubius, a lesser known species with several common names including yellow goat’s beard and yellow salsify. It’s an attractive, but rather unremarkable yellow flower whose presence often goes unnoticed; however its three to four-inch globe-shaped seedhead is eye-catching and resembles a giant dandelion on steroids. And when the sunlight hits the seedhead just right, it’s stunning. Continue reading

I Am Not a Chipmunk!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I was blissfully unaware of the existence of thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) living in Michigan, let alone in Oakland County, until a summer day ten years ago. On that day of discovery, I was wandering the Shiawassee Basin Nature Preserve in Springfield Township admiring wildflowers, dragonflies and butterflies in a small meadow. I was just a few hundred feet from the Springfield Township Civic Center when suddenly a small chipmunk-like creature popped up out of the ground in a field rich with clover, grasshoppers and bugs of all sorts. I managed one photo before its hyper-speed vanishing act commenced.

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An Oakland Audubon Birding Adventure & More!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland Audubon Society offers free, fun filled trips for birders of all ages. They are enriching family-friendly events where participants often encounter the unexpected. As expected, my hike with their “young birders” last Saturday morning at 2,454-acre Indian Springs Metropark was no exception. Thirty-six species of birds, including five different species of swallows, were encountered during our two and a half hour meander, but my two favorite species of wildlife encountered were not birds. One had scales, the other fur. It’s not every day I witness an eastern garter snake up in a tree or go face to face with a pair of young thirteen-lined ground squirrels, but on Saturday I did.

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A Sunrise Paddle on the Wilder Side

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Summer is firmly taking hold on the wilder side of Oakland County. It’s a time for exploration and discovery, and without a doubt, it’s the perfect time to greet the sunrise while most of the human world is sleeping and the air is still cool. And so last Saturday morning, just a few hours after the last of the fireflies flickered in my meadow, I strapped my kayak into its carrier and headed for East Graham Lake in the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. Although the drive took only twenty-five minutes, it felt like I had escaped to a far away hideaway. Continue reading

Nature’s Way Hidden in Plain Sight

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

You need not go on an epic journey to discover, explore and enjoy the ways of nature in the sultry days of summer. You need not leave the county or even leave the city or suburbs. Just walk to small bodies of water with vegetated edges and the subtleties and secrets of nature’s world unfold, often just yards from pavement and manicured lawns. Continue reading