Oakland County’s Quintessential “Seagull”: The Herring Gull

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland County has no seagulls. Not even one. So just what are those raucous birds that fly around boats, docks, beaches and picnic areas on Memorial Day Weekend? They are not seagulls. Seagulls do not exist.

There is no such thing as a seagull. The word “Seagull” however, is an acceptable layperson’s term to describe all species of gulls whether they are soaring over ocean shoreline, following fishing boats on the Great Lakes, or just “hanging out” near picnickers at Stony Creek or Kensington Metropark, or any large park or lake in our county. My use of the word seagull today refers exclusively to our quintessential seagull, the often maligned Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). The Herring Gull is a beautiful bird, but unless it stays motionless, the beauty of this gull is often overlooked.

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MAY’S WOODLAND WILDFLOWERS MAKE WAY FOR JUNE

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Spring wildflowers of Oakland County woodlands capture our hearts, stir memories and draw the attention of woodland hikers, nature lovers and sometimes white-tailed deer. The flowers of May are short-lived flowers, and must emerge from the moist soil, grow rapidly, flower and produce seeds before the abundant oaks that named our county OAKland County leaf out and block the sun from the forest floor. The days of muted, dappled light seemingly dancing on the forest floor are rapidly fading. Shade will soon dominate and end the show of the ephemeral flowers. Now is the time to go for a woodland wildflower hike on the wilder side of Oakland County while their blooms remain; and there may even be a bonus, late-emerging morel mushrooms.

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Adopt-A-Stream, Become A Benthos Hunter!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

If a hiker wandered by a section of a small creek near Clarkston last Sunday they may have wondered why two women wearing waders carried small nets on long poles and slowly walked into the water. Every few minutes one would come ashore and carefully empty dark muck from the creek bottom into a pan. Another woman on shore gave directions, took notes and documented everything as I watched with the steadfast intensity of a man observing every aspect of very tiny creatures that wiggled in the muck pan in front of him. Continue reading

Pitch a Tent, Light the Bonfire

Spring is here, so it’s time to bring out your camping gear!

Oakland County’s natural splendor is on full display at the 16 campsites, 62 swimming spots, and 100 fishing holes. From Ortonville State Recreation Area down to Haas Lake Park RV Campground, the perfect wilderness getaway is always close at hand.

To find a campground or campsite near you use our interactive map or view a complete list of locations here.

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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