A Winter Walk at Hawk Woods

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

I almost did not attend. A gloomy overcast sky had painted the world in dreary shades of gray. The weather forecast suggested a cold drizzle of rain, not my favorite conditions for hiking or photography. I had all but decided it would be a miserable day for the hike being offered by the Hawk Woods Nature Center to explore “seasonal changes” and look for signs of wildlife. However I had promised my old friend Mike Mansour, the long-term naturalist at Hawk Woods that I would be there. And so I went.

Continue reading

Winter Solstice Wonders

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The arrival of astronomical winter, the Winter Solstice that occurred on Saturday, December 21st at 11:19 p.m. EST, reminded me that the phrase, “the dead of winter” is an oxymoron. Winter is never dead, a fact that comes to life with excitement for those that make an effort to enjoy the wilder side of our county during the days of diminished daylight, days when even those that do not arise early can watch spectacular sunrises at 8 a.m. Winter brings treasures of nature to be discovered, from sparkling ice under clear blue skies to eastern bluebirds fluffed up against biting winds, and of course the deep soft hoot of Great Horned Owls, sometimes accompanied by the yips and howls of our “song dogs,” the eastern coyotes that have colonized our county.

Continue reading

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