Wonderful Woodpeckers of Winter’s Approach

woodpecker on tree branch

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

It goes without saying that if you spend the day constantly hitting your forehead against a tree trunk, you will end up with a severe headache, at the very least. A concussion or brain injury may be more likely, but that’s not so for a woodpecker. Woodpeckers can spend all day pounding their heads against tree trunks at 20 times per second in search of hidden grubs and hibernating bugs and then come back for more pounding the next day. The activity is so fast that the human eye does not even notice that with each successful pounding, a woodpecker’s beak penetrates the bark, and its long sticky tongue zips in and out, snagging hidden insects and larvae.

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Gifts of the Glaciers

glacial boulder on grass

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland County is a landscape created by the incredible power of glaciers. Glacial erratics are perhaps the most intriguing of all our glacial landforms, but the name “erratic” often causes confusion for those unaware of our natural history and the science behind glacial geology. It should not be, for in reality, there is nothing mysterious about those two words: glacial erratic, when they are used in combination. Glacial erratics are rocks and boulders of any size that were scraped up from the earth, or fractured from bedrock by a glacier, and then carried by the glacier, and finally deposited in an erratic fashion as the glaciers melted and retreated. That event last occurred during the end of the Pleistocene Epoch about 13,000 years ago, a time we refer to as the Ice Age. It was the time glaciers covered much of our planet and created the landforms and lakes of present-day Oakland County.

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It’s Totally Tamarack Time!

yellow tamarack trees

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The ephemeral beauty of eye-catching October tree colors faded as the winds of November strengthened. But what a month it was to explore nature’s artistic way in Oakland County and the rest of Michigan. Hikers and trail runners often paused in our parks to observe perhaps the best kaleidoscope of leaf colors in a decade, a gift from Mother Nature that coincided with an equally colorful forest floor display of fantastic fungi. Gone are the bold, brilliant shades of deep orange of sugar maples. Gone are the reddish hues of sassafras, sumacs, and red maples. Gone are the dazzling, wind-driven yellow “sparkles” of aspen leaves that quaked in gusts of wind.

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THE WILDER SIDE OF NOVEMBER

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

November is upon us once again, an excellent time of the year to get outside and enjoy all the wonders of the wilder side of Oakland County. The fields, forests, wetlands, wildlands and trails bring unique sights, sounds and smells and enjoyable wildlife encounters in a mosquito free environment with the cascading fall of colorful leaves nearing its end, new vistas unfold, exposing the geology and glacial history of our county. It’s time to arm yourself with a camera, and perhaps bring along the family or a good friend and seek out seasonal secrets of nature’s way before snow blankets the landscape.

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November: A Great Month for Hiking

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTYimg_1212

November trails are mosquito free. The air is rich and crisp. Crowds are gone. In November, leafless woodlands are home to peaceful solitude and delicate beauty. Go for a hike on the trails of our county and you just may embrace the timeless words of Henry David Thoreau, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

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