Stony Creek’s Habitat Trail: A Winter Wonderland

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

We only had three hours to hike and Stony Creek Metropark offers 27 miles of tempting trails. That made for the most pleasant dilemma on a bright, blue sky day on the wilder side of Oakland County. With those thoughts in mind, a fellow nature enthusiast and I headed to the 2.5-mile-long Habitat Trail in the northwest corner of the park, for a slow-paced journey into nature’s way in winter.

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Northern Cardinals: Habits, Habitat, History

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Encounters with the natural world accelerated at local bird feeders during the first week of January as blizzards slammed much of the eastern U.S. and temperatures plunged into single digits in Oakland County. Many of those encounters were with the “redbird,” more properly known as the Northern Cardinal, a permanent year round resident of Oakland County. With their striking red plumage surrounded by a sea of swirling snow, they are in a class of their own for stunning beauty, a fact that has not gone unnoticed. As a matter of fact, cardinals are noticed more easily here in winter than in summer, and in seven states this easy to recognize bird is honored year round. Continue reading

Chaotic Harmony on the Dawn of a New Year

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The wilds of nature on a frigid sunny day can be a magical place. Red squirrels leap from low branches and tunnel under snow. Red-tailed hawks perch on tree limbs above frozen marshes, perhaps waiting for the tempting movement of rabbits. Rivers flow and shoreline ice sparkles and crackles. That was nature’s welcome to me on the first day of the New Year. I breathed deeply from the evergreen scented air and headed for a large stand of towering red pine trees that were planted in neat orderly rows during the Great Depression. The pines created an image very much unlike what one expects in wild nature; yet to the naturalist spirit within me, they beckoned to be explored. 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

To Migrate or Not? That is the Question.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The classic image of bird migration at the approach of winter is the sight of Canada Geese flying high above our lakes, parks, towns and cities in V-shaped flocks. As winter fades, local television newscasters sometimes bubble with excitement at an alleged sign of spring’s return, robins on a snow speckled lawn. They salute the American Robin as the first returning bird of spring when robins are reported stalking about sunny suburban lawns searching for worms between patches of melting snow. These romanticized images of bird behavior and migration are less than accurate. Continue reading