Wandering Through Winter with White-Tailed Deer

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Wandering through winter is the way of life for the white-tailed deer living in our midst. They need not wander far. For snowy days, temperatures below freezing, and winds that howl across open meadows and fields rarely present a danger to the thousands of deer that live in Oakland County. Deer have evolved a four-step basic strategy for surviving winter that is really rather simple: go about a slightly altered routine, don’t over exert, sleep near your best food supply, and just wait for spring. They can do this thanks to physical traits and behavioral patterns that slowly changed as autumn faded. Continue reading

Seven Lakes State Park: A Pre-Solstice Wintery Adventure

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The arrival of the winter solstice opens the way for a new season of embracing the ways of nature on the trails and in the parks that add to the quality of life of Oakland County. The nature that surrounds us becomes even more amazing – we’ve got enticing trails, drifting snow, frozen streams, babbling brooks, crackling ice, whispering winds, and of course, tracks in the snow that help unravel the mysteries of wild creatures living in our midst. If a destination is chosen with forethought, there’s the added benefit of enjoying soothing solitude for hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the wilder side of Oakland County. That was my plan last Friday. Continue reading

Snowy Owls: Visitors from the Arctic Wilderness

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Snowy Owls are charismatic, majestic and mysterious. They are the heaviest of all North American owls with some weighing almost six pounds. Their yellow eyes, massive talons, feathered feet, eye-catching white plumage and diurnal hunting behavior appeal to almost everyone, even people who normally would rather shop in a crowded mall than walk in the silence of a woodland. Naturalists and birders are smitten by their unpredictable movement patterns, and the spirit of the remote arctic wilderness these amazing raptors represent. However, unless you plan on visiting the high Arctic tundra of North America or Eurasia, the chances of seeing Snowy Owls in the wild is usually nearly zero. But maybe not this December.

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Turkey Tales and Tidbits from the Wilder Side

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

No one seems to think about turkeys very much until the turkey’s internal temperature soars to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s surrounded by sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cooked greens and a pumpkin pie. Invite me to your Thanksgiving table and I won’t ask about the wishbone; I will try to engage the gathering in a lively conversation of snoods, wattles, caruncles, dewlaps, spurs and beards. Continue reading

An Early Morning Lake Sixteen Environmental Adventure

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

150 Tennis Balls, 91-Acres of Water, 18 Volunteers, and the Ghost of Mastodons: An Early Morning Lake Sixteen Environmental Adventure

Oakland County would be a lesser place if it was not for our beautiful lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams. With those thoughts in mind, I loaded my kayak onto the roof of my jeep on the last Wednesday of August for a bit of participatory, investigative reporting on Lake Sixteen.

The early morning fog lifted just as I pulled into the small parking area near a fishing pier and a non-motorized boat launch site on Lake Sixteen, a 91-acre lake on the east side of Orion Oaks County Park. Lake Sixteen is one of the hundreds, or some say more than a thousand local lakes that sparkle in the early morning light of fading summer. Here’s what Oakland County’s Prosper Magazine wrote last October about the numerous lakes that enrich our lives, and provide diverse habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife and great outdoor recreation for residents of our county.

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