Huron Swamp: The Greatest Treasure of Indian Springs

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Nothing exists for itself alone, but only in relation to other forms of life.” – Charles Darwin.

The Huron Swamp slowly awakened in the dawn’s early light. An unseen Barred Owl hooted as the sky lightened. Although these swamp-loving owls with “soulful brown eyes” wing silently between the swamp’s white oaks, red maples, and tamaracks, their distinctive melody of “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” confirmed their presence. Ten minutes passed. A sudden splash in the shallows was the signature of a raccoon, or perhaps a mink. Fresh muddy tracks on the wooden boardwalk told me it could have been either. Suddenly a Pileated Woodpecker’s resonating wuk-wuk-wuk alarm call indicated an intruder. Perhaps it was me. But my intrusion was in search of swamp magic.

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Groundhog Day and Signs of Spring: Fallacies, Facts, and Fun

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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THE BIG DAY IS ALMOST HERE! Crowds will soon gather around televisions for the final countdown. When will he appear? What will he do? Punxsutawney Phil, the furry weatherman from Pennsylvania has been slumbering in his hibernating den since late autumn. But on February 2nd Phil will stop procrastinating and make a statement at Gobblers Knob in front of an array of cameras. As crowds surge forward for a better view, he will yawn once or twice, and then without further ado will predict the weather. If he sees his shadow, he dives back into his den and we have six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, he lounges topside and that signals that spring will soon embrace the countryside. It’s a great tall tale, and Phil always has a 50% chance of being right.  Continue reading

Rose Oaks on the Dawn of December

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and places to pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir
Rose Oaks County Park is that kind of place.

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An early morning walk through this 640 acre protected wildland in the northwest corner of Oakland County at the dawn of December offers rich rewards, reaching beyond the obvious benefits of healthy hiking and fresh air. Solitude, natural beauty, and a chance to embrace silence without distractions are three of them. The radiant glow of morning sunlight on trees enriches forest stillness, and warms the human spirit.

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Great Blue Herons: Master Hunters, Delayed Migrators

 WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Whether poised motionlessly in the protected wetlands of Rose Oaks County Park, or along an urban creek amidst the bustle of the City of Pontiac, one thing remains certain about the Great Blue Herons: they are a majestic sight. Bird migration is well underway in these crisp days of autumn, but our Great Blue Herons, the largest and most common of the North American herons, are not going anyplace soon. Some will loiter in Oakland County into early November. Others may never leave.

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Nature’s Almanac At The Dawn Of Autumn

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Forget for a moment the temperature soaring into the 80s all week; today is the first full day of autumn. Summer officially ended at the exact moment the sun crossed the “celestial equator”, and the crossing of that line in space only occurs twice a year.  The September equinox happened at 10:21 EST yesterday.  Get ready to celebrate the season of apples, pumpkins, hayrides, fall festivals and hikes under kaleidoscopes of color.  Oakland County Parks, our Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and dozens of other parks in our towns and cities are ready for outdoor autumn adventure.

Even with our unseasonable warmth, seasonal changes of autumn are easy to see, and sometimes hear, in the parklands, wildlands and trails that span the county. One of the most noticeable signs is the wide array of fantastic fall fungi that is spreading their spores to expand their kingdom. Moist woodlands are spawning the rapid growth of the stunningly beautiful Fly Agaric, better known by its scientific name Amanita muscaria, a toxic species, and The Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), a delectable edible delight.

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