June 1: I always start feeling a bit claustrophobic here once the trees leaf out. I miss unobstructed views of the skies & the open-ness of meadows and grasslands. I miss vast spaces & the bird species that live there. I could sit for hours listening to the sweet songs of bobolinks and meadowlarks, and the ratchety calls of sedge wrens. Garry's favorite bird has always been tree swallows, and since there are many new nest boxes erected on Stahl bush road, we've been spending more time there than usual watching them soaring above nearby fields. I've also become very fond of fences- since they're about the only thing for birds to perch on in this area, I see them not as an un-natural thing at all.. rather a tie that binds.
June 2: We heard our first Common Nighthawk of the season this afternoon. When the full moon rose, I stepped outside and heard the soft hooting of a nearby Great Horned Owl and the yipping of nearby coyotes- and the calls of many songbirds. Apparently, they're dazzled by the moonlight too.
June 3: Blue skies for the first time in many days, so we headed over to the coast and spent a wonderful afternoon at Tawas Point State Park where good numbers of migrants are still passing through. I watched 3 Gray Catbirds battling it out within a stand of jackpines, they made such a racket and tumbled around the brush for quite awhile. Eastern Kingbirds were very numerous and so were Brown Thrashers. Garry caught a nice bass at the park and we enjoyed many Orchard Orioles while in the area. A banner day.
June 4: We met with friends in Bay City and visited a new nature park near the Saginaw river. Very peaceful and scenic, we'll definitely have to check this area out better when we have more time. Stopped at Nayanquing Point on the way back, where we had many good sightings, including a few Willow Flycatchers.
June 5: Took back trails up into Oscoda & Alcona counties today. Stopped by Loon lake where large flocks of Cedar waxwings were gleaning insects over the water and pink ladyslipper orchids were in blossom. From there we checked Mack Lake area for Kirtlands & we were successful in finding 3 males. Good numbers of birds but the area was so dusty that it made trail riding a bit uncomfortable. We wound around the bull run hill climbing area, and north up to McCullough lake, where we stretched our legs and enjoyed even more waxwings and a family of wood ducks on the water. Turtles were very active today, and we moved one small painted turtle and one larger snapping turtle off the roads. While moving the snapper, a wild turkey hen fed near the roadside.
June 7: Visited a nearby lily farm today, where I always enjoy the many colorful blossoms and the many butterflies and birds around the large gardens. Barn swallows were numerous around the potting sheds.
Both male and female Osprey were on the nest near Prescott, but we didn't see any fuzzy baby osprey heads poking up there yet.
June 9: Garry saw our first fawn today. The mother deer are very cautious, so we don't usually see them when they're newborn. The heat has been oppressive and you can guage how many biting insects we have by watching the deer- they twitch their ears & their skin ripples constantly.
June 10: I released the second of two black swallowtail butterflies today.
The weather was much more tolerable with cooler temps, so we spent some time near the river where Garry fished and I enjoyed many skipper, butterfly and odonata species. A couple male American Redstarts are still singing on territory and I had a good view of a male Mourning Warbler while walking the trails.
June 11: Spent some time in RRRA photographing odes and flora today. The ridge area is so wonderfully fragrant with many different shrubs and honeysuckles in blossom. 100's of damselflies flitted about the trails while we enjoyed good looks at Gray Catbirds, Chestnut-sided Warblers and a beautiful first year male Veery.
June 12: White-breasted Nuthatch juveniles have been honking around the property this week. They're so much fun to watch- they don't fly real well yet, but they sure are vocal & curious little things. We have baby racoons coming in to feed at night and today a long-tailed weasel ran across the driveway a couple times, and came within a few feet of Garry in the garage- they're absolutely fearless. It checked the yard out pretty well and all of the squirrels scattered. Since 'Blackie Jr' has been hiding out under the deck, I worry about the weasel finding him because it hunts that area too. The white-tailed fawn made another trip into the yard- it ran full tilt into the grass then stopped and looked around like 'what am I doing out here alone?" It then kicked up it's heels and zipped back to the mother doe, who seems pretty exasperated with this youngster. There's just nothing cuter than a young fawn, they're so full of energy and play. This is one of the boldest fawns we've ever had here, and definitely has a mind of it's own. We haven't seen any twins yet, which is unusual .
June 14: We spent a bit of time in the Prescott area again today. Sighted nothing out of the ordinary, but then again I find the 'ordinary' to be quite beautiful this time of year. Tree swallow nest boxes are still active & every stand of willow seemed to hold at least one Yellow warbler singing on territory. Area roadsides are covered with oxeye daisies, birdsfoot trefoil, red clover and orange hawkweed, and many parent birds are taking advantage of the abundance of insects. There's alot to be said for roadsides in June.
June 17: We now have at least 2 long-tailed weasels actively hunting on our property. It's really quite fascinating to watch them, but the downside is our little baby melanistic chipmunk is no longer coming around. My thoughts are the weasels probably found him under the deck- I hope not, but he/she was pretty active every day. Alot of juvenile birds making their appearance at the feeders and pond, and there's alot of calling coming from the nestbox of chickadees- they should be fledging soon. Speaking of noise, we have a baby American Crow out back that makes the most pitiful sounding begging call I've ever heard. A very loud and raucious call.
June 19: The mother doe brought in two young fawns today- the twins are absolutely precious. The doe sticks close to the house most of the day now and lays in the clearing with her nose tucked in under her short tail. I'm feeding her a bit of corn to help her keep up her strength to nurse the twins, but by the looks of my flower garden they're getting plenty of snacks on the side. We took a drive down to the river for a bit, but the deerflies were horrid- so we checked in the park and they were just as bad. Good numbers of odes and butterflies, but the biting flies made it hard to concentrate on taking photos. The showy ladyslippers are in blossom and while photographing them on Grousehaven lake, a female Spotted Sandpiper kept a close eye on my whereabouts, so I didn't stay in the area long as she probably had a nest nearby.
June 20: We now have at least 4 juvenile titmice on the property- precious little noisy birds. Also young downy/hairy/redbelly and pileated woodpeckers are joining in the chorus of begging calls.
June 23: Stopped by Nayanquing point for a brief visit yesterday afternoon- enjoyed good numbers of Gray Catbirds, many who are still watching over their nests.
Quite a few empid species are still gathering nesting material and many Cedar Waxwings- juveniles were abundant.Good close views of Yellow Warblers and many Common Yellowthroats. American Coots out feeding among the cat tails with their young, many Purple Martins, several C. Nighthawks and the usual birds that always make Nayanquing so special. We also observed a bald Red-winged Blackbird, which I found a bit sad because it has no feathers at all over it's ears. I've seen this in Bluejays and N. Cardinals before, but this is the first bald RWB I've ever encountered.
June 24: I witnessed something yesterday that made me quite sick at heart to see. A short-tailed weasel carrying a chipmunk across our driveway. I thought we had long-tailed weasels here, but it's hard to tell them apart. The weasel was only a few inches longer than the chipmunk, but when I followed it out to the woods to see where it was going, it stopped and gave me a look that stopped me cold in my tracks. I have no doubt that it would have turned on me had I got any closer. We now have no chipmunks- zero. They're all gone. These fierce predators have killed every single chipmunk that we had on the property and will probably start on small birds next, as I've seen them climbing trees. I hate to intervene, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to hire a professional to come in with a livetrap and relocate them. They have no fear of my 110 pound rottweiler and sooner or later there will be a confrontation since they're going under our deck and pass right by the area we tie her out in. It's so eerie to walk out and not have chipmunks racing around the yard.
June 28: My dialup seems to be down most of the time lately and am not able to keep up when I can't access my website files. The juvenile American Crow is coming into the yard on a daily basis now and we have many other juvenile birds feeding around the property. Many titmice, chickadees and our first batch of grosbeaks and orioles have fledged. I've noted a few chipmuks over the past couple days, so apparently the weasels didn't get them all. I released one of my cecropia moths last evening, and the other one has yet to emerge from it's cocoon.
Additional 2004 Journals: