Sights, Sounds, Scents and Signs of Spring’s Approach

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The confirmation of spring’s approach arrived on very long legs and boasted a bright red-capped head. It was just before sunrise when I spotted three statuesque Sandhill Cranes standing motionless on ice near a parking lot at Addison Oaks County Park. After a hilly, two-hour hike in a mostly snow-covered landscape, I returned to that melting patch of ice just in time to watch one of those red-crested, long-legged beauties of the wetlands stretching its wings in the morning sun. That sighting alone confirmed what the calendar already said: The final countdown to spring is well underway. Continue reading

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

Vernal Ponds = April Amphibian Action

Wilder Side of Oakland County

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As winter yields to spring, blue-spotted salamanders are roused into action. They emerge from their moist subterranean dwellings and embark on overland journeys to reach the same vernal ponds where their lives began. The vernal pond is a unique forest pond as it only holds water part of the year and is fish-free. The word vernal is derived from vernalis, Latin for spring. In another few weeks, these ephemeral ponds will teem with life, with some creatures so bizarre that they appear to be alien species.

SpringPeeper calling

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