September 2: We're down to just two hummingbirds now. The adult males left about a week ago, then the females soon followed suit. These two feisty birds, which I believe to be juveniles, are putting on quite a bit of weight. They'll need every ounce of fat they can store for the long journey ahead. They enrich our summer days so very much and it's such a long time before they'll be back again. Safe journeys, little wingeds- you'll be missed.

September 6: We're having very warm weather again and the drought conditions continue. A few maples are starting to turn and goldenrod is abundant all around the area. Checking Henderson Lake, we found that the two juvenile Common Loons have now left the lake- the adults left a couple weeks ago. I love fall season, but the loons are a constant during the summer months and their haunting calls will be greatly missed. Most of the adult neotrops have left, including the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks & Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, although juvenile birds still remain on the property. Two hummingbirds are still here, but am noticing they squeak/fuss at each other very little now and seem to be concentrating on fueling up. It's getting quieter every day with the decrease in birdsong. A few warblers here and there and quite a few empid. species with young. We had Least Flycatchers here today, a new species for our property. 3 juveniles sported a bold eye ring with yellow bars on the wing coverts, just a beautiful bird. During the evenings the Barred Owls are still calling up a storm each night, at times going into their howler monkey routine. A few new species of moths showing up at the sheets, but they're being picked off by at least 4 big brown bats. They haven't fed in this area all summer, usually I see them feeding up higher over the house, but that has changed. I find bats fascinating, and watching them flitter over my head to grab a moth out of the air just inches away is a bit unsettling sometimes.

September 8: Spent the better part of the afternoon in RRRA. The cold waters of Grousehaven lake felt so refreshing, with the temps. up into the 90's. Still quite a few species of flora to be found along the sandy beaches- wood anemones, beach heath and other colorful flowers are abundant. Enjoyed many birds soaring overhead- Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Turkey Vultures, Tree Swallows and quite a large number of Ring-billed Gulls.

September 13: We still have at least one hummingbird here, although the hundreds of stinging yellowjackets are really making it hard for them to feed. We've fashioned bee and wasp traps that are working, but there are just too many of them and they're very aggressive bees, seeking water in the midst of the ongoing drought. Something seems 'off' right now, although I'm not sure what the cause is, or if it's a combination of factors. We normally have upwards of 30 squirrels here, and right now only have 2 black-phase grey squirrels. We also only have a few chipmunks and usually on any given day we can count up to 20. The bird population seems to be down too, and not just migrant birds but all species. One very special bird is still here though, a bird that I've enjoyed watching and listening to since it fledged. A young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker just absolutely pulls at my heart strings with it's plaintive calling. It visits the oranges I put out every day and always calls out while feeding. He/she is pretty tolerant of my presence, and since it will soon be headed south, I recorded the familiar sound that will soon be just a memory until they return again.

juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

September 15: Spent the late afternoon birding RRRA, and spotted a large mink crossing the road near Grebe lake. Quite a few ducks were feeding in the shallows. We concentrated our search along the river near ranch campground where gray catbirds were very numerous along the water along with many warbler and empid. species. Sighted a small flock of White-throated Sparrows and enjoyed a beautiful fall day surrounded by many beautiful birds.

September 16: Checking the river for steelhead beds, we searched the area for mushrooms. Last year at this time we found dozens of species, yet today we found not one mushroom. The woods are so very dry and even the understory in the cedar swamps nearby are bone dry. No sign of any salmon or steelhead yet, the water is low and very weedy. Sighted a few flocks of Wild Turkey, and we sat and watched one group of polts taking dust baths. They were up and running as soon as we stopped the truck.

We had a very ill Downy Woodpecker here today- it exibited all the symptoms of west nile virus and suffered greatly before it expired. I have never seen a sick woodpecker species in all of our years of watching and feeding birds. I hope to not ever see one again, it was not a pretty sight. On a good note, we had one hummer here this evening. It was flying pretty slow and was a bit clumbsy around the feeders, but it nectared from what few flowers we do have left. Temps. dropped down to the low 30's last evening, and if anything, I hope it kills some of the remaining mosquitoes off.

September 17: The bird gods smiled warmly on us on this beautiful fall day at Tuttle Marsh. I went with two birds on my wish list that I hoped to see- birds I haven't had the opportunity to watch and enjoy for quite some time. First on the list was an American Bittern- I think bitterns are just the coolest and could watch them for hours on end. That wish was granted.

Next on the short wish list was a Green Heron- that wish was granted too.
At this point, if we didn't see one other bird I would have left completely happy.. but we saw many many more including: Rough-legged Hawk Northern Harrier (2) Merlin- very engaging bird, coming within 20 feet of our truck at one point. Watched it make at least one kill. Osprey (2) Bald Eagle Black-crowned Night Heron Great Blue Heron (10+) Great Egret (20+) Sandhill Crane (4) Belted Kingfisher (3) Virginia Rail Killdeer Greater Yellowlegs Blue-winged Teal (10+) Mallard Pin-tailed Duck (many more duck sp. that were flying into the sun, couldn't get an id on most) Tree Swallow Gray Catbird Marsh Wren Chipping Sparrow Swamp Sparrow Blackpoll Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler Yellow Warbler American Redstart Nashville Warbler Black and white Warbler (many unidentified warbler sp.) Northern Flicker Blue Jay Eastern Wood Pewee American Goldfinch American Crow. We also saw a mink and many diff. species of odonata and turtles- we spotted what we thought was one of the largest blandings turtles we'd ever seen- turns out it was 2 turtles mating.. first time we've seen turtles mating in the fall. Also sighted one juvenile Common Loon on Long Lake (Iosco Co.) today.

September 23: The first day of autumn brought a most welcome sighting on our property- the Brown Creepers have returned.

September 26: Yesterday while checking on salmon beds (still none found) we came up on a mixed flock of juvenile E. Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows and Palm Warblers. Northern Flickers were very abundant on this stretch of road, at least a dozen sighted. A large flock of Wild Turkeys were in the same field we spotted them in last week and further down the trail we sighted 2 young Ruffed Grouse.

We stopped by Nayanquing WA today, and the whole area is a huge sea of cattails and rushes- the water is completely gone from the pond and the bay is impossible to view without a scope. We saw no shorebirds at all, but there were quite a few duck species to the west of the tower. Sparrows were abundant (chipping, song, savannah, swamp), quite a few warblers & a beautiful blue-headed vireo. The birds were all holding tight to cover making it hard to see field markings.

September 29: As soon as we parked near the rifle river inside RRRA today, I could see from the hilltop view that we were in the 'right place at the right time'. Birds were just everywhere.. darting in and out of cover along the river, flitting through the treetops, hopping about the understory. Many were singing. It was a confusing but fun afternoon trying to decide which way to look with the bins. We started out at Ranch Campground, but pretty much covered the whole park today- among birds sighted were:

Gray Catbird (many) Eastern Phoebe Yellow-billed Cuckoo American Robin (many) Hermit Thrush Brown Thrasher Cedar Waxwing (many) White-throated Sparrow (dozens) Song Sparrow Chipping Sparrow Black-capped Chickadee (dozens) Golden-crowned Kinglet (dozens- many came down to face level when pishing) Nashville Warbler (many) Blackpoll Warbler (many) Yellow-rumped Warbler (dozens-more than any other warbler sp.) Black-throated Blue Warbler Common Yellowthroat Pine Warbler (many) Mourning Warbler Black and White Warbler American Redstart (many) Wilsons Warbler Yellow-throated Vireo
further down the trail from the footbridge at ranch campground, birds were flying out from the swails into the tall grasses to glean bugs- sighted in this area: Savannah Sparrow (many) Palm Warbler (dozens upon dozens) Yellow-rumped Warbler (same as above) Eastern Kingbird (many) Eastern Wood Pewee American Goldfinch Northern Harrier American Crow
also sighted around the park: Y.B. Sapsucker Scarlet Tanager Northern Cardinal Blue Jay (many) N. Flicker (dozens) Pileated Woodpecker Ring-billed Gull Canada Goose (dozens) Great Blue Heron Mallard Pie-billed Grebe Bald Eagle- 2 Adult and right at dusk- Great Horned Owl (heard) American Woodcock The DNR, in it's infinite wisdom, poisoned off the river yesterday for lamphrey eels, so we didn't wet any lines today. The river still had a greenish cast to it and it's absurd to us that they did this two days before this stretch of river closes for salmon fishing. I also received an email from a friend who resides in South Branch today- he shared the following: "You should have been at our house with your camera two days ago. The annual migration of Eastern Bluebirds came through. There is some type of weed seed in my abandoned vegetable garden that they come in an feed on during their migration. It is really something seeing 200-300 Bluebirds at the same time."

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