Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Fish: A boy's dream realized!

Photos by Jonathan Schechter at Upper Bushman Lake,  Independence Oaks County Park
One hour after walking down to the lake  seven year old Dominic proudly displayed his first fish 
to his grandmother. The photos tell the rest of the tale of a young boy fishing with his brand new rod. 
Upper Bushman Lake is a catch and release only lake at the very northern tip of  1,276  acre 
 Independence Oaks  County Park.  The fishing pier is at the end of a  1,200 foot gently
 meandering  gravel  path  that  starts  in the  parking lot of  Independence-North.  
Details on  Independence  Oaks and all Oakland County  Parks and their summer 
adventure and nature exploration  opportunities and special programs at: 

Fish on!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Great egrets of the West Bloomfield Trail wetlands: Nature's Way!

Great egret photos by Jonathan Schechter  June, 1st 2012

Great egrets are slowly adopting Oakland County as home.  The western end of the West Bloomfield Trail provides excellent opportunities to view these stately predators of the marshes and shallow wooded wetlands just yards from palatial homes.  On National Trails Day I explored the new section of the West Bloomfield Trail and took time out to watch this beauty hunt for frogs and fish. It was the exploitation of these magnificent  birds by plume hunters to create frilly hats for women in the late 19the century that led to many bird preservation  laws. Today egrets have full protection of Federal and State law. These photos are meant to accompany my  hiking column about the West Bloomfield Trail that appears in the June 9th print edition of The Oakland Press.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Season of the Snapper: A time to lay eggs!

Photos by Jonathan Schechter  6/1/2013

Sunshine warmed the earth and rains softened the soil; making perfect egg-laying conditions for the common snapping turtle. But on June lst, National Trail Day, as I hiked the new trail extension of the West Bloomfield Trail Network I did not expect to see snapping turtles  under the cloudy sky.  I was wrong.  In addition to discovering many nests that had apparently been raided and devoured by raccoons in search of turtle egg omelets, I stumbled upon a medium size snapper in the very act of egg-laying.

Hikers and strollers stopped to watch and kept a respectful distance.
She scooped with hind legs and positioned herself for egg laying.
She watched us casually and did not withdraw her algae and duckweed covered head.

I carefully positioned myself near her backside and zoomed the lens just in time to capture the image of egg leaving her body and joining others in her muddy nest.  Once the egg-laying ended  she will leave her nest that will mostly likely have several dozen eggs or more. She will never return.  If raccoons or  coyotes do not dig up the eggs for a tasty snack the hatchlings will emerge in as little as 55 days or in as much as 140 days; it all depends on soil and weather conditions. A great day in nature for the trailside turtle and for me on the new West Bloomfield Trail.