Secrets of the Lawn Lobster Chimneys!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Mysterious miniature “chimneys” have emerged in wet meadows and moist lawns all across our county. They are gateways to the secret underground world of several species of crayfish, collectively known as Chimney Crayfish. Mudbugs and crawdads are two other frequently used common names for crayfish, a group of arthropods that look very much like miniature lobsters. I like to use the eye-catching title of Lawn Lobsters to describe them when writing about them, and that’s just what I did four years ago when creating text for an interpretive sign for Oakland County Parks that featured the chimney construction skills of Cambarus Diogenes, a local species commonly known as the Devil Crayfish. It is also one of the most widely spread crayfish of the United States.

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Bewildered on the Wilder Side of Holdridge Lakes

A trail winds through a heavily wooded area. A trail marker indicates the entrance to the trail.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Backwoodsman and legendary folk hero Daniel Boone is alleged to have said, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” I have new respect for Boone’s words, for during Monday’s wintery mix morning hike in the Holdridge Lakes Mountain Bike Area of Holly State Recreation Area, I reached a point on the trail when I realized I had no idea where I was. Lost? Not quite. I knew I was on a trail, just not the trail I thought I should be on, nor did I know where it would lead. To me the word lost infers hopelessness, and so I, like Daniel Boone, settled on bewilderment to define my predicament. But the bottom line is clear, for as series of events unfolded, some planned, some not, my two-mile hike became an 8.5 mile trek of endless adventure and natural wonders. I’m glad it all happened though, for the adventure reminded me there really is a wilder side of Oakland County. Continue reading

Can You Identify a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the hours of daylight lengthen in these early days of March, the woods become alive with early morning songs and the rhythmic drumming of woodpeckers proclaiming territory and taking part in their spring courtship rituals. Most of those woodpeckers go unnoticed by unsuspecting human eyes. That is, of course, with the exception of woodpeckers that frequent feeders filled with suet, or perhaps discover, much to the chagrin of the homeowner, that drain pipes and metal trim on homes are places where the resonance is best. Continue reading