Summer Solstice Solitude & Wildlife Adventure

A red fox stands in tall grass

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Summer is the season nature’s way may appear to slow, but that only holds true for those that do not venture out onto our trails or into our parks and wildlands. Walk alone in solitude in the dawn’s early light and the landscape will come alive with hidden secrets, or hike with your nature-embracing companion, and pleasures will increase through the art of sharing. Walk slowly, stop often, look, and listen, and a new world of nature will spring to life. I thought about and now share, some of my favorite creatures that thrive on the wilder side of Oakland County as the dawn of the summer solstice draws near.

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AMBUSH PREDATORS OF THE WETLANDS

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Kayaks provides a perfect viewing platform to watch for wetland ambush hunters from early spring to the end of Autumn. Buhl Lake, Addison Oaks County Park

Kayaks provide a perfect viewing platform to watch for wetland ambush hunters from early spring to the end of Autumn. Buhl Lake, Addison Oaks County Park

Great Blue Herons, northern water snakes, snapping turtles, Great Egrets and American bullfrogs all share a common trait. They are five of the most commonly seen ambush predators of Oakland County wetlands. Ambush predators are masters of stealth and patience, remaining motionless as they wait for potential prey to come within pouncing or striking range. It’s a very effective strategy for hunting. For by staying motionless, they are less exposed to their own predators. The lying-in-wait strategy gives them the advantage of a surprise attack without the need for an energy consuming and perhaps risky chase. Now, at the dawn of summer, thick carpets of duckweed coat the shallow wetlands and the scene is set for the next lightning-fast strike.

Bullfrog

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SNAPPING TURTLES: Don’t Mess With Me, It’s Nesting Season

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Monsters of deep swamps they are not, but the common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentine, is the largest turtle species found in Oakland County (or anywhere else in Michigan). During the final days of May and into the month of June, these algae-coated giants of the turtle world emerge from wetlands and set off on terrestrial treks wrought with danger. They are often seen lumbering along on suburban lawns near wetlands or crossing highways. It’s nesting season for the snappers and their powerful sharp jaws are a reminder to give them a wide-berth when on dry land. Continue reading