August 1: Went out to see what moths were flying after sunset last night, and was struck by the beauty of the full moon- the second full moon in one month, thus a 'blue moon'. The echoing calls of a pair of loons rose up from the lake and I could see many bats flitting about over the garage. Coyotes yipped in the distance and crickets chirped softly in the understory. A beautiful evening.. right up to the moment a skunk let loose with its spray somewhere very close to the house, and all thoughts turned to getting inside as quickly as possible.
August 2: Juvenile Purple Finch are now coming to the feeders.
The young American Crow still comes in to feed with the deer a few times a day, and doesn't beg as much as it did last month. Silver-spotted skippers are numerous in the flower garden- or what remains of the garden. The rabbits and deer have really put a dent in the flowers over the past couple of weeks. The understory is quite dry despite the recent rainshowers, but cardinal flowers are popping up in area bogs and swamps.
August 4: It appears that we have at least two families of racoons on the property. There has been an adult coming in with 3 very small youngsters at night lately, and the small ones are fun to watch hopping around the grass trying to catch insects. The other family has juveniles that are almost as large as the mother coon and they can really make some ferocious noise when they fight.
August 6: Spent the afternoon at RRRA, where we enjoyed blue skies and pleasant temperatures. On the way home we passed a coyote that was hopping around the field- probably hunting mice.
August 8: Spent yesterday afternoon fishing grousehaven lake. No loons were present, as I'd hoped, but we enjoyed many bird species. Common Nighthawks & Purple Martins soared over the water while the shoreline was busy with many juvenile warblers, sparrows and other passerines. Caught a few skinny perch and enjoyed the calm waters and beautiful scenery. Today was spent up on a stepladder photographing hummingbirds. While standing up in the air quite a few birds landed on limbs nearby, not quite sure what to think of having me at eye level. I still want Garry to build me a treehouse someday, I like the view from up there.One of the fawns wandered into the yard, totally unconcerned with my presence. She was more interested in the birds that were splashing about the pond and when the mother doe gave a short blat, she went running back to feed inside the treeline.
August 11: It's begun- the invasion of the blackbirds and grackles. They swarm onto the property as one giant black mass of feathers and leave empty feeders and a feather-filled pond when they leave.
August 12: I had an appt. in Bay City today, so on the way back we had a bit of time to stop by Nayanquing Wildlife area. Good numbers of birds all along the pathways. Ran into a fellow NMB member- always nice to put a face to a familiar name.
August 14: Even more Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds are arriving daily. 100's of them. They scare many of the smaller birds away, but the juvenile and adult Baltimore Orioles find their way through the mass of black birds to the jelly feeders. A male pileated came into the clearing late in the day- we've been hearing them, but they haven't been coming in to feed as often as they were.
A fellow naturalist sent me a product to try on our hummingbird garden- rabbits and deer have chewed down at least half of the monarda and tore up the rest of the flowers, so she recommended a powdered coyote urine product. I was in hopes it would work and it seemed it might be effective.. for a day or so- Garry counted 8 rabbits smack dab in the middle of the flowers tonite, just munching away. So much for that idea.
August 20: We've had unseasonably cool weather which has really put a dent in the butterfly numbers this year. A few frits and skippers are showing up now and then, but for the most part my butterfly garden is not a busy place as far as butterflies are concerned. The hummers are keeping the flowers tended though and good numbers of ruby meadowhawks usually bask on the high blossoms. I really miss spending time out with moths this summer, but my knees just can't handle all of the bending- that and West Nile Virus has hit our county pretty hard this year, so I can't justify exposing myself to even more mosquito bites than usual. We had a huge emergence of four-spotted itames last night- 100's of delicate little white moths flitting around the woods. Also large numbers of katydids, which are not my favorite bug to have bouncing off my head.
August 23: Our property has turned into one giant blackbird- Common Grackles and R.W. Blackbirds are now coming in by the 100's all day long. We still have quite a few Baltimore Orioles here but the R.B. Grosbeak numbers have gone down. American Goldfinch are feeding in the flower garden and the yard is busy with juvenile woodpeckers and titmice. We took a ride over to Prescott today where I found a baby Gray Catbird just sitting in the middle of the road. It must have been hit by a car because it was in shock and couldn't/wouldn't fly, so I moved it into cover/shade and hoped the parent birds would tend to it. I really wish we had a rehabber here in Ogemaw County, I felt so sad just leaving it there so helpless and defenseless. Near the feedstore we enjoyed watching a family of juvenile Barn Swallows being fed- such colorful little swallows with a very big appetite.
August 28: It's been very humid and warm over the past few days, so we visited the park this afternoon, thinking a cold dip sounded pretty good. Bird activity was pretty slow. Enjoyed several butterfly species- cabbages, monarchs and red-spotted purples. Also found a beautiful spotted tussock moth caterpillar, feeding on wild cherry.
After filling the feeders at home, I heard the young pileated male come in to the front of the property- he's a very vocal woodpecker. I watched out the door as he layed on his side along the driveway and snatched up small red ants with his long touge. He jumped up a couple times and flapped his wings like he was trying to shake something off them, so he probably was getting bit while he fed.
Additional 2004 Journals: