Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roadside Cafe: Saga of a red-tailed hawk and a rabbit.

All photos by Jonathan Schechter 10/21/13  Brandon Township, Michigan

I was just a few hundred yards from my house driving home on my rural hard-packed dirt road when a sudden movement  caught my eye;  a large bird flew out of the ditch and landed in a tree perhaps 20 feet from where his take off point was located. I slowed as I approached and quickly noticed it was  red-tailed hawk, a young one I think.  As I reached for my camera in the car's back seat and squinted into the sunlight I could see he seemed to be swallowing  
and something  - a little piece of meat  - dangled from his mouth. 

 I watched through the car window for another few minutes until the watchful hawk grew
 uneasy at my roadside loitering and flew to the limb of another further away tree. 
I then drove slowly to the spot from which he had first appeared. 
The facts on the ground told the rest of the story.

A bloodied eastern cottontail rabbit was sprawled on his back in a most unglamorous pose and was most obviously the tasty late afternoon entree at this hawk's roadside cafe.   The rabbit did not appear to be pancake-flat as is the usual case when crushed by a car. My best guess is the rabbit was captured at the edge of my neighbor's closely cropped lawn and dropped by the hawk when trying to fly with his heavy prey. 
 I left so the hawk could finish his fine dining at this Oakland County (Michigan)
 all you can eat roadside cafe where all the food is fresh ---  and served very rare.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

65 miles of trails: Hike your Oakland County Parks!

photos by Jonathan Schechter  

The first snow flurries have laced the northern reaches of Oakland County. Nature's late October artistry is at her finest.  The woods are alive with the refreshing scents, sounds and sensational smells of autumn.  Go hike!  You need not be a mountaineer, or rush off to a pricey outfitter for high tech equipment and survival gear to enjoy the trails.  Just visit one of our Oakland County Parks and you will find an incredible mix of trails waiting for your feet.  Many of the most popular trails are located at Addison (Addison has equestrian friendly trails) and Independence Oaks County Parks.   There are trails that are paved and flat and perfect for slow paced strolls and there are glacial sculpted trails that are hilly and rough and great for muscle and lung conditioning jaunts into the wilder side of Oakland County. Or head to Rose Oaks for an even more primitive experience. Want to know more?  Explore  for details on all 13 Oakland County Parks and links for park locations, trails, regulations and special events. 

Head for the hills and find your trail!

Crooked Lake at Independence Oaks County Park

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Explore Oakland County Osprey on Sunday October 20th!

Osprey chick in an Oakland County nest:  photo by Jonathan Schechter

Program text by Oakland County Parks

Once nearly absent from our state, Michigan’s osprey population continues to rebound.
 Learn about the Michigan Department of Natural Resources exciting efforts to track the 
migration of these unique raptors and how cell phone towers have helped their recovery 
at Ospreys and Backpacks from 2 – 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20 at Wint Nature Center.

The program is free
An Oakland County Parks daily or annual vehicle permit is required for entry. 
While pre-registration is recommended at 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-625-6473 Saturdays,
 walk-in guests are welcome.

Wint Nature Center is located in Independence Oaks County Park at 9501 Sashabaw Road
 in Clarkston. Take exit 89 from I-75 and head north 2.5 miles.

For more nature education programs, visit:

Hope you can join us!

-Oakland County Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Education Staff 

photo of adult Oakland County osprey by Jonathan Schechter

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nature's signs confirms autumn's arrival

Stick insect on scarlet-red leaves of staghorn sumac signal autumn.
All photos by Jonathan Schechter
You do not need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,
or -  signs of nature add emphasis to the calendar's proclamation.
  Photos confirm the facts of nature's way:

 Shaggy mane mushrooms spring up overnight in moist suburban lawns

Aspen leaves turn scarlet-yellow

Jerusalem artichoke reach skyward.

Cicadas hum their final songs

Sandhill cranes gather in their migration staging areas.

And when the tamarack trees turn smokey gold I'll be grabbing by backpack and heading for the northwoods, for I too must answer the call of the wilds as the days shorten.