Chicory: Queen of the Roadside!

blue chicory blossoms

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The sultry days of summer are here. Goldfinches flutter over meadows. Dragonflies patrol the sky. Bullfrogs sound off from ponds. Tomatoes ripen on vines.Crickets sing to the night. Rabbits are everywhere. Thunder rumbles. But it’s chicory (Cichorium intybus) that really proclaims that the heat of summer is on.

Chicory is one of our most abundant midsummer flowers but sadly, it also carries the demeaning title of being classified as a weed. I guess that’s technically correct since it’s a non-native plant that grows profusely along many rural roadsides and other areas that have disturbed, well-drained soils that are bathed in full sunshine. However, their beautiful periwinkle blue flowers on spindly stalks make them an unmistakable sign of summer. It’s abundance in mid-August also reminds me summer is at its peak and the season will soon fade away.

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The Mighty Osprey!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Majestic! Magnificent! Unforgettable! Those three words do a superb job of describing an Osprey’s behavior when it’s time to fish for dinner. Ospreys are amazing fish-hunting birds that are found along ocean coasts as well as the shorelines of many large lakes and wide rivers on all continents, excluding Antarctica. They are a truly remarkable raptors, well deserving of their colloquial name, the Fish-Hawk.

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Timberdoodle Tales

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I know of a field with heirloom fruit trees (a location I shall keep secret), where Timberdoodles hide in plain sight to incubate their eggs and dance in the sky. That’s where this wilder side tale really begins a few months ago on my spring hunt for morel mushrooms. Now you may ask, what do morel mushrooms have to do with Timberdoodles (American Woodcock), one of the strangest appearing birds of Oakland County you may ever encounter? More than you may think, for “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” a quote from John Muir that so often comes to life for me. That day in May was no exception.

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Northern Water Snakes – Facts, Fiction and Phobias!   

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

When a large northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon) swims alongside your canoe and then suddenly looks straight at you on a sultry summer day, one thing is certain; it has your undivided attention. Northern water snakes are one of the most common snakes of Oakland County and are frequently encountered as the days of summer sizzle on and we relax and recreate near ponds, lakes, marshes and rivers. They are often under-appreciated, and at times heavily feared because of their appearance and bold, opportunist behavior. Herpetologists and nature lovers in the know are enthralled with their behavior and patient observation helps to better understand their ways and coexist peacefully. Sadly, some people “know” they are venomous. They are not!

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