Poison Sumac: Tale of a Toxic Trailside Beauty

red poison sumac

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the crisp days of autumn draw near, I increase my explorations of the wondrous world of our wetlands, swamps, and marshlands. They take on a special peaceful splendor in the waning days of summer, especially in the dawn’s early light. The wetland-embracing trails on the wilder side of Oakland County lure me in as surely as honey bees fly to flowers for nectar and pollen. However, this year as in the years before, I will be watchful for and ever wary of one wetland plant in particular. This plant presents a clear and present danger to humans that have the misfortune of making physical contact. Even touching or brushing against any part of this toxic trailside beauty may lead to a world of woe and in some severe cases of exposure, a visit to an emergency department follows.

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Rose Oaks – A Wonder in Winter

An interpretive sign next to a large boardwalk over wetland that is covered by snow.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Rose Oaks County Park is a nature-embracing and easily accessible winter wonder that presents wide-open vistas, glacially sculpted wooded hills and hidden secrets of nature exposed by tracks and trails in the snow. Six hundred forty acre “Rose” is one of my favorite parks managed by Oakland County Parks and Recreation. I look at her wildness as an early morning wintry haven of solitude enhanced by wind whistling through groves of evergreens, the chatter of chickadees, gurgling waters of icy streams, the near magical mesmerizing booming of lake ice expanding and contracting, and in a few more weeks, the magnificent rattling bugle calls of Sandhill Cranes. The sounds of nature in winter make every trek a delight for those that walk slowly, stop often and listen. The song of coyotes in the moments before sunrise just might be your greeting, and as the sun climbs higher, the distinctive call of the Pileated Woodpecker signals the woods are awakening. Continue reading

Oakland County’s Yellow-Necked Reptile: The Blanding’s Turtle!

Blanding's Turtle

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Looking for a yellow-necked timid dinosaur? I’ve got the next best thing: A Blanding’s turtle! Signs of these ancient creatures may be a slow-moving dome lumbering across the road or a mysterious shell appearing like a glistening algae coated rock at the edge of a marsh. If the turtle’s long neck is extended and the dazzling golden-yellow throat and chin are exposed, the confirmation is certain, you are viewing a Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii); a “Species of Special Concern” in the State of Michigan. Species of special concern are generally described as:

“any species of fish or wildlife that does not meet the criteria as endangered or threatened but is particularly vulnerable and could become a threatened, endangered or extirpated species due to restricted distribution, low or declining numbers, specialized habitat needs or limits, or other factors, or is a species likely deserving of threatened or endangered status, but for which insufficient data are currently available.”

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Rose Oaks County Park: A Wildland Gem of Oakland County

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY


“From her somber, sullenness on a misty morning in autumn, to the excitement and bustle of life on a warm summer day, there is always something interesting to see at Rose Oaks.” Those words of Kegan Schildberg, the Natural Areas Stewardship Lead for Oakland County Parks, paints the near perfect picture of a park that was designed by retreating glaciers some 11,000 years ago and now offers peaceful and passive recreation on the Wilder Side of Oakland County.

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