Milkweed Bugs of October Meadows

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October is the season of the Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus), a colorful but lesser known bug of Oakland County’s milkweed-rich meadows, fields and trailsides. They are spectacularly beautiful creatures that lure the attention of nature hungry little kids, nature savvy adults and university entomologists. However unless one walks slowly amidst the milkweed plants, and looks for them, they often go unnoticed, even with their brilliant colors. Don’t let them go unnoticed. Continue reading

A SWIFT NIGHT OUT: Flying Cigars over Farmington

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are masters of the sky. These enigmatic smudge-gray colored aerial artists are sometimes referred to as “Flying Cigars” because of their appearance in flight. They are almost always airborne, unless sleeping. Unlike most bird species, you will never see a Chimney Swift perched on a branch, or standing on the ground. Their evolutionary path led to sleek wings and fantastic flight skills, but also left them the inability to perch on a branch or even stand like a song bird on the ground. When a Chimney Swift needs to descend from the sky it uses its grappling hook-like toes to cling to the vertical interiors of hollow trees or interior of chimneys. Thus the name Chimney Swift, a bird that was once known as the American Swift.

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A Park on a River, Placemaking, and Pizza

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

One hundred and ninety-six years have passed by since Aaron Webster became the first permanent European settler along the banks of the Clinton River in what is now the City of Auburn Hills. He died of typhoid fever just two years later in the summer of 1823, but before his death he constructed a dam on the river that captured the power of the water’s flow to operate a saw mill.  The timber from his saw mill was then was used to build a grist mill to grind grain. That’s how Auburn Hills began.

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Secrets of the Lakeshore Trail

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Lakeshore Trail of Holly State Recreation Area does not qualify as the “path less travelled,” or as wilderness, but if you wish to explore a small slice of the wilder side of Oakland County in the closing weeks of summer, this two-and-a-half mile natural surface loop trail will not disappoint. You need not be a tree-hugging naturalist to enjoy the natural beauty and secrets of the trail, which embraces the shoreline of Wildwood and Valley Lakes, but a spirit of adventure—and a bit of sure-footedness—will help. The State Recreation Area, though located in Oakland County, is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and a Recreation Passport sticker is required for vehicular entry.

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Palate Pleasing Secrets Of Staghorn Sumac

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

It was late summer in the rolling hills of Western New York State when I came upon the sun-soaked field of staghorn sumac that accelerated my path of nature education after a near stumble. Back then I was a long-haired, bearded 20-year-old. I was happy to be the nature specialist for Camp Lakeland during my summer break from college, but I was even more excited to share “nature’s lemonade” with kids on their hikes. My hair is a lot shorter now, but my foraging enthusiasm remains. This little flashback to Camp Lakeland is necessary to set the stage for this tale from the wilder side, for in the world of nature all things are connected. Continue reading