The Magic of May: A Time to Discover Nature’s Way

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Rains on the first day of May accelerated the growth of delicate woodland wildflowers and the spring prize of the fungi world, morel mushrooms. It sent frogs to every puddle and pond, and skunks meandering for grubs at dusk. May sees Sandhill Cranes and Osprey back on their nests. Turkey Vultures now perch on rural barn roofs to catch the morning sun. Turtles bask on logs and goslings explore their shoreline world. Snapping turtles and northern water snakes swim through the shallows. Fawns wobble in dappled sunlight, and beavers come on shore in the cover of darkness to fell trees for their home improvement projects. This is the way of the magical month of growth and birth and renewal, a month we call May, a time to discover and share nature’s way. Continue reading

GOATS ON THE POLLY ANN TRAIL

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The non-motorized Polly Ann Trail is a vital and increasingly popular segment of the growing network of trails and greenways in Southeast Michigan that enhance the quality of life, provide healthful outdoor recreation opportunities, and serve as windows to the world of nature. The easily accessible 14.2 mile long Oakland County section of the Polly Ann Trail begins in Orion Township and meanders north through the Village of Oxford, Addison Township, and the Village of Leonard. Woodlands, trailside wetlands, and farmlands dominate the Wilder Side of Oakland County trail landscape as it nears the Lapeer County line. On any spring day, hikers, joggers, walkers, and cyclists will hear the territorial songs of birds and courting frogs, and may see sunning turtles, soaring hawks and an abundance of small mammals and the occasional deer.

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Oakland County Is Coyote Country!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The eastern coyote (Canis latrans) is an intelligent, curious, and highly adaptable animal. Although once confined to the great American deserts and prairies where they were targets of ceaseless eradication campaigns, coyotes have now colonized our nation from coast to coast. “Unlike wolves, which succumbed quickly to predator control measures, decades of intensive persecution did not eradicate coyotes – the unrelenting pressure on them did invoke an ancient coyote biological imperative: It triggered larger litters of pups and colonization behavior that pushed them into new settings everywhere.” – Dan Flores in his 2016 book Coyote America. Continue reading

More Than A Walk In The Woods: Graham Lakes Trail

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Bald Mountain State Recreation Area is a 4,637-acre multi-use wildland managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR describes the landscape accurately with their frequently used sentence of, “The Park contains some of the steepest hills and most rugged terrain in southeast Michigan and features fifteen miles of marked hiking trails.” I knew that. I thought I knew all of the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area trails very well. I did not. Somehow, in all my many adventures at Bald Mountain, I missed four miles of forested trail that circles West Graham Lake, East Graham Lake, and hidden vernal ponds. As John Muir wrote, and I have shared before, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Once again his words were accurate, and they will be for you as well, if you walk slowly, stop often, look and listen. Continue reading

When the Moon Shadows Dance

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Night hiking is always an adventure, but it becomes a five-star adventure on a winter’s night. Hiking with a good friend, a group of friends, or like-minded adventurers adds to the pleasure, but even solo night trekkers are never really alone. Unseen creatures rustle through brush, or crunch through crusty snow stirring our senses into hyperactivity. The hooting of owls is a thrilling and comforting sound that brings smiles for those in the know. Yet sometimes, the whinnies of Screech Owls, deep melodious hoots of Great Horned Owls and the caterwauling conversations of the swampland-loving Barred Owls send shivers down the backs of folks who never tread trails after the sun sets. Continue reading