Happy Michigan Trails Week, Oakland County!

Celebrate Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 18-25, on an Oakland County trail. The county and its surrounding areas offer miles and miles of trails for your fitness and enjoyment. Fall is the perfect time to get outside to see the changing colors on the trails. Take a stroll, jog through a park, bike with friends, kick up some dirt at Holly Oaks ORV Park, saddle up on a horse, or paddle down a river. Whether you’re looking to get some vitamin D, exercise, or just want to enjoy some quiet time with nature, there’s no shortage of trails to meet your needs in Oakland County.

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The Dawn of Autumn in Oakland County

Eastern gray squirrel

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Every autumn we sense the excitement of the beginning of a new season. Autumn is the time for nature-embracing explorations into the natural world as nights cool, fantastic forest fungi appear, and mosquito-free trails beckon. I know the time of autumn draws near as energized Eastern gray squirrels gather acorns felled by strong winds. That time is now.

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Countdown to Autumn in Oakland County

Chipmunk

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I’m often asked how I select Wilder Side of Oakland County nature topics. I’m easily distracted, that’s how. Being distracted as I hike is a very good thing for me. Distractions often lead to noting aspects of nature’s way that I was not searching for as the countdown to autumn accelerates. Distractions increase when I hike with my trail companion. An extra set of eyes notes wonders of nature I might just pass by. “Did you see that?” I’m asked. My answer is often no, and that means it is time for me to stop, observe, discover, and learn.

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Nature’s Way on a Summer Day

Scarlet Tanager in tree

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Despite the heat waves that swept across Oakland County, it’s hard not to think about the chillier nights that will soon turn into even chillier days. Early August was sizzling hot with the temperature soaring into the upper 90s. Some of us hunkered down in air-conditioned worlds. But for those of us that wandered the woods, meadows, and lakeshores of our county, the world of nature’s way was very much alive. What was there to see? Here’s just a small sampling from a few short treks on the wilder side of Oakland County.

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Cicada Killer Emergence

Cicada killer on leaf

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Cicada killers (Sphecius speciosus) are a little known, but rather frightening looking member of the wasp family that are very much at home in Oakland County. Just the fact that the word “killer” is part of their name draws attention and causes unnecessary anxiety and fear.

You may have seen cicada killers already without even knowing what they were. They are emerging now and are often misidentified as yellowjackets or baldfaced hornets. That misidentification is not surprising, since cicada killers bear a strong resemblance to yellowjackets—very big yellowjackets. However, unlike yellowjackets and baldfaced hornets that respond ferociously in a defensive manner if their papery nest is disturbed, cicada killers are solitary creatures and tend to totally ignore humans, even humans that intrude into their territory or disturb their underground tunnels.

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