Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds as Summer Wanes

black and red hummingbird

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The shortening hours of daylight as summer’s end draws near has accelerated activity of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that have again honored me, and perhaps you, with their beautiful iridescent colors, incredible flight patterns, and pleasing presence. From the moment of dawn’s early light until dusk, they are constantly flitting between my suction cup window feeder, an array of potted flowers, and a hanging feeder in my rustic arbor.

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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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Flying Dragons of Summer!

An upclose Yellow-legged Meadowhawk

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Dragonflies have ruled the skies of planet Earth since before the time of the great dinosaurs. They survived cataclysmic extinction events that eliminated other species and set back human evolution In the blink of an eye, dragonflies can change their flight direction, speed, and elevation with aerodynamic skills that even the most advanced, high-tech drone cannot master. Dragonflies can detect, track, pursue, intercept, catch, and consume flying prey that are plucked from the air. Perhaps this makes them one of nature’s finest tuned killing machines, true masters of aerial predation. Some of these perching “flying dragons” appear to smile, just as this Yellow-legged Meadowhawk seemed to do. 

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Nature’s Wilder Side Almanac 2019

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

JANUARY

The first days of January signal a New Year of adventures along the trails, and in the parks and wildlands of Oakland County. Snowy Owls, the denizens of the Arctic tundra irrupt into Michigan most winters confirming the season of snow has arrived – even when it’s delayed. Snowy Owls have already been sighted not far from our county. They perch motionlessly on fence posts and telephone poles near farm fields, spacious meadows and frozen lakeshores to wait for meaty entrées, perhaps mice and meadow voles, or a duck that did not wing south. January is the month that early rising hikers and trail runners find their favorite trails of solitude and solace, crisscrossed with tracks of our apex predator, the eastern coyote. It’s the season I look forward to sharing sunrises on a wooded, often snowy bluff that overlooks Buhl Lake, a four season gem of Addison Oaks County Park.

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Autumn Beauty on an Oakland County Trail

A cement path winds down through a heavily wooded area. Foliage is turning from green to shades of yellow and orange. A deer stands near a tree and is almost hidden as its color blends in with the foliage around it.

As the leaves transition to shades of red, orange, and yellow, and the air gains a crisp autumn edge, there is no better time to venture along one of Oakland County’s many scenic trails. To find the best place to take a walk in nature, check out our list by clicking on the button below:

List of Nature Trails in Oakland County

You can also check out the Oakland County Trail Viewer, an interactive map developed by Oakland County’s award-winning GIS team. Each trail is marked using brown lines, while green icons represent parks. When a trail is selected, the map allows you to reference both its length and elevation. When users click on a park icon, its name, size, website, and other helpful information will appear.

From the paved paths at Groveland Oaks in Holly to the expansive trails at Waterford Oaks, you are sure to find the perfect nature trail for you using our list and interactive map.

Do you have a favorite trail in the Oakland County area? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter, by contacting us at socialmedia@oakgov.com, or leaving a comment below.


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