July 1: The pond has been busy with the ongoing high temps. We have an American Robin who thinks the bird pond belongs to her and her alone. While she is in or near the pond, she won't allow any other bird to enter. A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak tried to get into the water for a good half hour, but the robin was not in a mood to share her cool spot.

July 2: I turned on the mister for most of the afternoon, placing my chair under the mist so I could cool off while watching our resident male hummer darting through the cold water. Since our spring season was so very cool, our growing season has been a bit behind. My hummingbird/butterfly garden plants are close to blossoming and today the evening primrose opened up along the east side of the house.

Sighted a few new lepidoptera species on the property today, including several silver-spotted skippers.

July 3: Our bird species list total for the property increased by one today. A beautiful Black-billed Cuckoo hopped from limb to limb in the canopy feeding on insects. Such a striking bird that we enjoyed observing.

July 5: We drove down our favorite backroad for butterflies today and what we saw was so very disturbing. Or make that what we didn't see. This area is teeming with common and swamp milkweed and it's a great habitat for many species of lepidoptera, including Monarch butterflies. Today we sighted only three within the entire stretch of road- two on the wing and one nectaring on the milkweed. Last year at this time there were dozens upon dozens of Monarchs in this area. Reports are coming in from all over the U.S. that their numbers are down and almost nonexistant in some regions do to loss of habitat in S. America and hurricaines & snowstorms that killed millions of these beautiful butterflies. It was very eerie to be standing in a field of milkweed watching only one Monarch nectaring. And very sad.

We did sight many new skipper species though, and enjoyed many birds while there. Sighted and heard quite a few American Redstarts. I always smile when I hear their joyful song.

July 7: One of the does finally brought her young fawn closer to the house today. Such an energetic and curious deer, she'd rush at the feeding birds and squirrels then buck around playfully in a circle. They're just so precious and smart. Her mother is the doe I nicknamed 'weezie' because she wheezes/snorts at us if we get too close. She blats at the fawn to call her, and the fawn blats back- they sound so much like sheep when they call to each other.

Spent the day in the recreation area again and swam in the wonderfully cool waters of Devoe lake. Sighted 15-20 new odonata species and also crept up to within a few feet of a Veery- I crouched closeby watching him sing his 'bird in the bottle' call, one of my most favorite birdsongs.

July 11: While searching along our favorite butterfly trail today, I came across a pair of nesting Mourning Warblers. The male was absolutely stunning in his bright plumage.

Many bird sightings and good number of butterflies and dragonflies near the Rifle River, but the biting deerflies made it almost unbearable to be out long.

July 12: My fellow nature enthusiast/friend Louise sent me two gorgeous cocoons to raise today- a Luna moth cocoon and a Polyphemus Moth cocoon. I've placed them in my mesh butterfly enclosure and they should emerge anywhere from July 15 through the 22nd. I released 4 Lunas last year but they were deformed, so I'm really excited to see how these two progress.

We spent the better part of the day out on an island in Devoe Lake. Did a bit of snorkeling, and enjoyed the privacy of being completely surrounded by water. The small island held quite a few species of odonata and flora, including spreading dogbane, black-eyed susans and swamp milkweed. Song Sparrows sang sweetly from the cedars and a Belted Kingfisher perched nearby on a dead snag while we explored the beach area. We found a large male bluegill guarding a very large nest. If another fish ventured too closely to this nest, it was either chased off or eaten.

July 13: After doing some snorkeling on Loon Lake in Oscoda Co, we ventured into the thick decidious forest that borders the lake. The definite highlight of this day was hearing the beautiful call of a Whip-poor-will echoing through the forest area. The trees along the shoreline were alive with many juvenile birds including a flock of Cedar Waxwings that were feeding on pine nuts. Eastern Kingbirds were numerous.

A lone male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was busy gleaning bugs from the many sapsucker wells from the birches while a Sedge Wren worked the tall grasses and Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Willow Flycatchers, Baltimore Orioles and Great-Crested Flycatchers all darted out to snatch bugs over the lake. Ovenbirds, Veery, Wood Thrush, American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroats sang nearby while we glassed the lake watching many Tree Swallows skimming the waters surface while 2 Common Loons and 4 Canada Geese swam in the clear waters. Flitting from tree to tree were 2 Adult Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers with two young in tow. American Robins, American Goldfinch, White-breasted Nuthatch and Black-billed Cuckoos were also in the area. From there we stopped by Crater Lake where we enjoyed listening to many other bird species. This is a very rustic area (ie: no campers) and no man-made sounds are often heard here. We continued on a bit further north, swung east on Curtisville Rd then south on Mack Lake Trail Rd.
We were now in thick stands of jackpine and we stopped on the shoulder to enjoy the numerous songs of wood warblers. Quite a few Pine Warblers, Savannah & Chipping Sparrows were in the burned off area. Kirtlands Warblers were abundant. We heard many and sighted 5. We also sighted many butterflies in the area, including our first Coral Hairstreaks of the season feeding on wild Butterfly Weed.
We ventured off the trail onto 'Old Baldy Road', which is nothing more than a very bumpy narrow 2-track that jars the senses, but a very rewarding trail bird-wise. Sighted in the area were Cedar Waxwings, Indigo Buntings,Black & White Warblers, Wilsons Warbler,American Redstarts, Red-eyed Vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Ruffed Grouse, Veery, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Cardinals, Pileated Woodpecker, Turkey Vulture, Ovenbirds, and Field Sparrows. On the drive home we came across a tiny little vole that scooted down the middle of the dirt road- I'd never seen a vole up close before, what a neat little animal. Also had good looks at American Kestrels, a Red-tailed Hawk and many Bank Swallows. At the home-front, I was delighted to see 5 separate Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeders. We've had one adult male and three nesting females here this season that I know of and hopefully one or more of these were juveniles today. Time will tell.

July 17: The temps soared up to the mid 90's today and all of the wildlife, including the birds, are making good use of the pond.

We haven't had any significant rain in almost a month now, and much of the local flora is showing the effects of lack of water. New species of lepidoptera on the property this week include many little glassywing skippers and silvery checkerspot butterflies.

July 19: While trying to photograph butterflies nectaring on oranges, a beautiful juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker landed on the birch tree to feed on the fruit. They're straying further from the parent birds all the time but still call to them constantly.

We did our monthly Loon Watch check on Londo lake today- no Common Loons were sighted but we had a wonderful time watching an adult Bale Eagle soaring above the lake then down to the water where it snatched a fish in it's talons. The shallow waters were teeming with pickerelweed that is in full blossom- such colorful and stately aquatic wildflowers.

July 20: Not far from home, a lone male American Kestrel sat alone in the early spring. Within weeks a female joined him and we have watched the pair throughout the summer season hovering over the meadows, diving down to snatch a meal, or perched on the power lines that stretch above the roadside. Looking up to watch the kestrels on this stretch is automatic- just as natural as flipping on the turn signal, done in habit. Their sillouettes can be seen from the stop sign of our own road, part of the familiar landscape and view. Yesterday when we rounded the corner, additional sillouettes could be seen from a distance. Two beautiful juveniles now join the adults- 4 American Kestrels all in a row.

July 21: Finally received some rainfall overnight, so decided to visit a nearby lily farm for a few perennials and hostas. The huge wandering gardens at timber ghost lily farm are just magnificent, with over 400 varities of lilies. Birds were quite active and we sighted quite a few species on the drive including a small flock of 4 juvenile Brown Thrashers.

I released the Luna and Polyphemus moths tonight. Both appeared to be females, so hopefully they are up in the tree canopy releasing their eggs for future generations.

July 25: Mourning Cloak caterpillars were abundant around the west side of the property today. I brought 6 of them in, disinfected poplar leaves for host food, then placed them in an enclosure. They're quite large and probably in their last instar, where they shed their skin.

I've been spending alot of time outdoors watching the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, for they'll be gone all too soon. I can't say for certain that I've sighted a juvenile yet, and am not concerning myself with capturing photos. While sitting amongst the trees, doing nothing more than enjoying their squeaks, the thought struck me on how photography is really an action of self interest. With the click of a camera we capture moments in time- we witness things of beauty and we endeavor to preserve it, hang on to it, claim it in some sense.. but the special beauty of a hummingbird- this amazing, colorful and small creature who is able to beat it's wings 53 times per second, fly backwards, hover and show aggression towards birds as large as a Barred Owl- that special beauty belongs soley to the hummingbird. Flower eagles.

July 29: Spending alot of time out with the moths in the evenings. I continue to find new species and id'ing them is such a challenge, but one I enjoy. The Barred Owls keep me company while out in the night, always calling around dusk with a loud Hoooowahhhh. This is usually repeated only once, then they are silent for most of the night. Many of our summer birds are starting to dispurse, like the Baltimore Orioles- we no longer see them feeding on the property. Sighted a Northern Goshawk streaking across the backyard today while the woodpeckers all scattered. Had our first ever black eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on the property yesterday, and the eastern tailed blues arrived today. Such a delicate little butterfly, with the most awesome shade of blue in their upper wings. I also came across the coolest looking caterpillar I've ever seen. A beautiful Silver-spotted Skipper cat busy building his new silk home in a folded racemed milkwort leaf.

It was a good day for seeing quite a few tiny creatures. While standing in the office window watching juvenile Wood Thrush in the driveway, I noticed something small scurrying around under the camper. This tiny young deer mouse sat and ate while I placed the camera on the ground in front of him. I think they're just precious.

Additional 2002 Monthly Journals: March April May June August September October November December