June 1: Finally heard the songs of a Wood Thrush and Veery on the property. We've been hearing them north of here for weeks and I was becoming concerned that we wouldn't have them singing on territory here. The neighbors are making so much noise with their chainsaws and lawn mowers, but I still picked out those most beautiful songs amid the racket. Also had a good showing of moths at the light, including many Rosy maples.
June 2: Very pleasant temperatures have made for some very pleasant days afield. We came upon a darling flock of baby turkeys today on Sage Lake Road- first the mother hen crossed the road then 8 teeny tiny puffballs followed her. The tiny polts must have just hatched, too cute! We then journeyed over into Roscommon County near the clear lake area and worked our way around the designated Kirtlands area for most of the day. It has taken me awhile to get used to the appearance of clearcuts- it still disturbs me somewhat. At first glance it appears a giant Paul Bunyan went a bit nuts with his chainsaw, ripping and tearing out hundreds of acres of forest- a huge cemetary of tree roots, with nothing to mark their graves except ugly stumps and piles of torn limbs. But this is a very unique habitat for many species of birds. The deadsnags not only give warblers a place to perch and sing, but they are home to nesting Eastern Bluebirds, N. Flickers and others. They're crucial to the survival of jackpines and the survival of Kirtlands Warblers. I've learned a bit more about them this spring- their likes/dislikes.. the size jackpines they prefer, the size jackpines they avoid- we checked out yet another area of designated habitat today and now I've learned their beautiful songs just a little bit better. We heard 11 separate Kirtlands Warbler males & sighted 5 individuals on territory, singing their hearts out at different points along several very remote trails in Ogemaw County.
June 5: Got a quick peek at our first fawn this afternoon. It was laying out in our clearing and I accidentally spooked the mother doe and the fawn when I went out to refill bird feeders. So tiny and so precious.
June 6: The understory is covered with lily-of-the valley pips. This is the first time they've come up since we've lived here and they are so wonderfully fragrant.
June 7: Enjoyed some of our first juvenile birds on the property today- B.C. Chickadees, W.B. Nuthatch, Tufted Titmice and Chipping Sparrows were all out and about begging for food and following the parent birds around. The Red-headed Woodpecker was pretty visible all day.
June 8: Rains continue today, but the weather cleared just long enough to hang the moth sheets out last evening. Good numbers of polyphemus moths, sphinx sp., and our first cecropias.
June 9: One of the does brought her little one close to the house today. It is still very clumbsy but very curious and playful.
June 11: Spent a bit of the afternoon birding Nayanquing point and had good numbers of species, including many Yellow Warblers.
June 12: Went on a 'wildflower ride' this afternoon along the west then east side of the rifle river- found quite a few flowers and quite a few butterflies and skippers- while photographing a hobomock skipper, my concentration was entirely on the skipper- so much so that I about fell over backwards when a fawn jumped up from the ditch- it was hidden in deep grass less than 2 feet away & hadn't moved a muscle until I reached out to move some grass away from the flowers and almost touched it. Not sure who was more startled, the fawn or myself.
June 13: A male Scarlet Tanager has been singing his way around the property this week about the same time each afternoon. He still hasn't found a mate, but it's certainly not because he isn't colorful enough.
June 15: I usually enjoy the sounds that accompany visiting my moth sheets during the wee hours of the morning.. the yipping coyotes, the chorusing frogs, squeaking flying squirrels and the call of ovenbirds that echo through the forest under the moonlight. Last evening, however, the buzzing of junebugs was grating on my nerves while trying to photograph moths- I can't keep my attention on a focused image when I know a junebug is about to bounce off my head. So, I donned my cd walkman and jammed to 'Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits' while photographing io's, polyphemus, crambus sp. and many other winged ones. Boogying around the sheets trying to keep from stepping on the moths and probably really got the neighborhood gossip lines going this time.. (Harold, look- she's out at those sheets again with all those bugs and this time she's not just taking photos with that netting over her head but I think she's dancing!) Anyways, back to the moths- lately I've been finding many polyphemus, cecropia, io, etc. wings scattered around the east end of our property- this area is quite a distance away from the garage where I hang my sheets under the mercury light- I chalked it up to the many bird species that pick the moths off the garage walls each morning. So I'm out dancing and singing/lamenting with Marvin on how "things aint what they used to be, mercy mercy me.." with the Olympus keeping beat with the abundance of species on the sheets, enjoying the evening to the max when there was a sudden flurry of wings above my head..NOT moth wings. Big wings. Really big wings. I stumbled backwards from the sheets & there, not 4 feet away from me sitting on the driveway directly in front of the sheets sat a beautiful adult Barred Owl- a Barred Owl that happened to have a polyphemus moth hanging out it's mouth! I forgot I had a camera in my hand at this point and just stood there totally spellbound. The owl tossed it's head back and swallowed the moth with one gulp, turned it's attention skyward to the trees above the garage and with one large leap flew off into the night. I'm pretty sure I stood there with my own mouth agape for awhile.. and as I waited for my heart rate to come back to normal, my headset filled with Marvin & Tammie singing "aint nothin like the real thing baby..aint nothin like the real thing..". Right on Marvin. I wonder what 'Claptons Greatest Hits' will bring in tonite ;)
June 18: Lightening bugs flashed about the yard for the first time tonite & also observed our first Harris's Three spot moths.
June 17: Found many spotted thyris moths nectaring on daisies and common fleabane today. They're so tiny that they look like a small beetle from a distance. Cool moths.
June 18: On the way back from a nearby lily farm we were just about to roll the windows up and turn on the air and then we heard the distinct call- looked at each other and said in unison.. Bobwhites! stopped truck, got out and walked along the fencerow listening to two males on the east side of the road then another on the west side soon joined in.. ' bob.. bobWHITE'.. this was a real treat, we haven't heard nor seen these birds in years with the exception of a couple encounters within Saginaw-Gratiot state game area in our woodcock banding days. At one point a male was calling so close to where I stood that it sounded like it sat on my feet- soon it broke cover and ran for a short distance along tall grass near a hayfield. Beautiful bird! Good numbers of Vesper Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Barn Swallows and Bobolinks in the Prescott area today.
June 20: We finally found time to visit an area we've always passed by on our trips north. Negwegon state park in Alcona county, is a very remote and beautiful park along Thunder Bay just north of Harrisville. There are no signs marking the turn-off points and there are no facilities/camping in the park. The terrain is a mixture of hardwoods and aspen forest with mature pine forests/open meadows throughout. The cool breezes off Lake Huron felt wonderful and held the bugs down while on the shoreline. Inside the forest was a different story. While swatting at the virtual walls of biting bugs we listened to the songs and calls of Wood Thrush, G.Crested Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-Pewees. There were a few gals in the bogs gathering odonata, which disturbed the birds somewhat, but we still enjoyed many species including Swamp Sparrows, many American Redstarts, Warbling Vireos, Common Yellowthroats, Willow Flycatchers and Osprey. Quite a few wildflowers were in blossom including pink ladys slippers and bunchberry. This is definitely a place worth visiting again.
From there we visited Tuttle Marsh where we were happy to see 2 Osprey chicks on the nesting platforms. Good numbers of Yellow Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Marsh Wrens, Cedar Waxwings, Belted Kingfishers, Blue-winged Teal and Green Heron among others. The mosquitoes were absolutely unbearable, even with the stiff breeze. Thinking the shoreline was the place to get away from the hordes of mosquitoes (wrong!) we headed over to Tawas Bay where we enjoyed the last light of day with Spotted Sandpipers, American Bittern, Canada Geese and Great Blue Herons.
June 21: We had our first Red-spotted Purple butterflies at home today. I was heartsick to discover that coons or squirrels or deer (or all of the above) tore my butterfly garden to shreds during the evening. Butterfly bushes ripped up, shasta daises stomped and foxgloves flattened. So much for that idea. The fawn came in close again today and it's hilarious to watch it buck around and jump just because it can. The deerflies and mosquitoes really do a number on these little guys.
June 22: There was an Eastern Screech Owl calling quite close to the house last night. Haven't heard them in awhile, so it was good to know they are still in the area. We spent a very steamy afternoon in RRRA- many butterflies were puddling around Grousehaven lake and I had my first sighting ever of a beautiful Nessus Sphinx moth. This was one thirsty little moth and had the brightest double yellow stripes on it's abdomen.
June 23: Another hot one. Quite a few northern cloudywing skippers and hobomocks nectaring on the wild geraniums and what remains of the butterfly garden. The peony bush blossomed this afternoon. One of the few flowers the critters haven't ate- yet.
June 24: We spent a beautiful afternoon paddling around Grousehaven lake today. It seemed like everywhere we pulled the boat out to stretch our legs was occupied by either nesting birds or birds that were tending to chicks. At the first stop, I crouched under a tamarack to get in some much needed shade and almost ran smack into an Eastern Kingbird. Her small cup-shaped nest was right at face level - I was surprised how well camoflaged both she and the nest were but it was right out in the open & it was built on a tamarack limb that reached out over the water. Not wanting to stress her out any further we got back into the boat and paddled to another destination while she scolded us from the tree top.
A first year Common Loon kept surfacing near the boat as we paddled over to another stretch of beach. It reminded me of a snorkler with a facemask on, just peering down into the waters while it paddled the drop-offs. Within a few minutes of stepping onto shore, a Bank Swallow began diving over our heads. Looking around the area, we could see a hole excavated out of a turned over cedar-tree.. it had built a nest inside the huge root ball that was left when the tree toppled over. The swallow was not a happy camper, so back to the boat where we paddled to a small island on the west side of the lake. I could see a Spotted Sandpiper perched on a small tree and thought that it was safe to approach the other side of the island since this bird was obviously not sitting on eggs-
So we no more than got ashore on the tiny island and she started really carrying on and flew down to the opposite end. Grabbing my camera to take a few images of dragonflies I noticed movement under the short spindley shrubs and there were the cutest little sandpiper chicks I've ever seen- so tiny! They scattered quickly so I backtracked my steps- The parent bird was frantic by now & I didn't want to frighten the chicks out into the open since there were seagull above, so back to the boat we went. Once we were out in the water again, the tiny chicks gathered around the parent bird and the coolest thing to me was how they pump those tiny tails just like the adults- just too cute for words. A beautiful day and met a new photographer friend who was taking images of flowers after we pulled the boat out of the water for the day. Good stuff.
June 26: Yesterdays hot and muggy temps sent us packing with beach towels to Devoe lake. Many dragonflies and damselflies were basking along the shoreline.
June 28: We were absolutely delighted to see one of our area does bring in triplets today. Three beautiful spotted fawns, each a carbon copy of the other. Just precious. We also have a female racoon that has 4 of the smallest and cutest baby racoons I've ever seen. They are still very shy and are never far from the mother. They spend alot of time climbing on her and on each other- alot of physical contact and she's very protective of her young.
June 29: The juvenile birds are starting to venture into the birdpond now. Three young Tufted Titmice hopped around the pond today while one brave youngster flew into the water several times. He'd fly in, splash around and spook himself, fly up to a tree, then zip back into the water to do it all over again. What a comedian.
June 30: Checked on the Northern Bobwhites today but didn't hear or see them today. The area is teeming with deer and they're all very active- this always results in more road kills and I feel sad to know there are probably orphaned fawns each time I see a doe that has been hit by a vehicle. While around the Prescott area we enjoyed many birds including quite a few Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows.