October 1: October came in on warm breezes, a gorgeous day. Our juvenile Y.Belly sapsucker is still here and American Goldfinch numbers are increasing daily. Black-throated Green Warblers and American Redstarts visited the pond today, but most of the migrants are moving through at tree-top level, gleaning bugs from the higher branches. We still have quite a few leaves on the trees yet, and the woods are bathed in a golden hue.

October 5: We now have hundreds of juvenile American Goldfinch on the property. They're delightful to watch feeding among the seedheads in the garden- bungie jumping from stem to stem. I've added quite a few extra feeders to accomodate the large numbers, but have also had to take a few down from the south side of the house where they're flying into the sliding glass doors. So far they've all recovered from the hits, but I'm not taking any chances with these beautiful youngsters.

October 6: The wildlife seems to be recovering from whatever affected their numbers for most of the summer. A combination of factors really took it's toll on all species on the property and we're now seeing more squirrels, chipmunks, opossums and porcupines again. Today's fronts moved many migrant birds through the area, including large numbers of warbler species. Despite the rain, many of them visit the pond for a dip or a quick drink. Yellow rumped warblers are very abundant, and are challenging to pick out of the large flocks of juvenile goldfinch that join them at the water.

October 7: Although we've sighted White-throated Sparrows at RRRA this month, today marked their arrival on our property. These beautiful fall sparrows are always a welcome sight.

We also sighted a large flock of 30+ Eastern Bluebirds a few miles away while passing through nearby farmland. Their gorgeous plumage was absolutely stunning. I miss those birds so very much since we've moved into wooded habitat.

October 8: Today marked the arrival of a small flock of Dark-eyed Juncoes on the property. I love the pin-ball machine sounds of these small beautiful birds.

We also have quite a few White-throated Sparrows here today. Many warbler species are pushing through in the cold front.

October 9: What a great day. Cool breezes yet sunny and pleasant. Perfect birding weather. On the way to run a few errands this afternoon, we stopped along the shore of Grebe Lake and were delighted to see the Trumpeter Swans have returned. Small flock of 4 Adults and unlike last year at this time, there were no signets present.

Watching a small flock of Ruby-crowned Kinglets while scoping out the swans, we quickly decided the errands could wait, and birded the park for a few hours. Birds were numerous- many warbler species, White crowned & White-throated Sparrows, quite a few ducks, Hermit Thrush and many more... the bird of the day was definitely Cedar Waxwings- they were abundant throughout the park, and at one point we stopped on the main trail (not far from skunk creek) where it passes through thick willows and brush- this is always a very birdy area in the fall and many passerines follow the small streams that meander through the swamp.. Many ripe berries are in this area and a flock of 7 juvies and 3 or 4 adults were absolutely gorging on them. I walked along the trail slowly, listening to their buzzy calls, watching the juvies begging for food.. they flew down within 3 feet of me & I kept wondering when they would spook and fly futher out into the swamp, but they stuck around for quite a long time.. a couple of the juvies were snuggled up as close as they could get to each other, facing right into the sun with their eyes closed, just soaking up the rays.. A day I won't soon forget.

October 12: This was a wondrous day with the passage of many Hermit and Wood Thrush through our property. We glimpse them so briefly during the summer that it was almost surreal to have the opportunity to watch so many so closely. Before the fog lifted early this morning, 2 Wood Thrush were hop/skipping about the east side of the house.. soon afterwards 2 more stopped for a quick dip at the pond.. after lunch, a flock of 5 Hermit Thrush flew in, joined by one American Robin, and splashed about the pond for quite some time with obvious delight..

They gathered together as a flock again before continuing their journey through the woodlands. I felt that certain feeling one experiences when events come full circle.. from those first rich, beautiful notes that signal their arrival to the wistful watching of their silent exodus... I wished them safe passage, and with ceremony the winds rustled through the falling leaves, leaving behind a swirl of colorful leaves.

October 13: Turning on the side light late last evening, a Barred Owl took wing and flew off in the rain. It had been perched on a limb over the pond- later this morning it came back and perched in the same area. I've been tossing chicken-scratch feed around that spot for the D.E. Juncoes and sparrows, so small mammals are possibly coming in to eat there in the evenings, and the owl has found a good dining area.

October 14: High winds yesterday brought down a good portion of the leaves that remained on the trees. We got a hard freeze last night, and alot of the remaining flora was hit. Good movement of warblers again today, with many first year 'butter butts' flitting through.

October 16: The temps have dropped like a rock over the past few days- lows down into the 20's and the winds have a very cold bite to them during the day. We still have a family of 4 Pileated Woodpeckers here- 2 adults and 2 juveniles. Very shy birds that spook at any strange sound or sudden movement. They can often be heard cackling through the woods like manic banshees and seem to have expanded their range to include the area around the lake.

October 19: The cold snap continues- 5 Fox Sparrows arrived on the property today and I enjoyed the airial cavorting of 3 Common Ravens directly over the house- it was a magnificent show of diving, rolling, tumbling and wind-dancing. We're not going to have a great color show this year, with the recent high winds and rain stripping the trees of most of their leaves. Stopped by the highbanks area of the rifle river this afternoon - one lone red maple tree stood out amid various shades of brown.

October 23: A Northern Goshawk spent time around the property today, one of the largest goshawks we've ever seen. Dark-eyed Junco numbers have increased, with over 4 dozen of them here now. Heading over to Prescott, we were happy to find an osprey nest right near the area where consumers power removed an active nest in early spring. We also came upon a beautiful tiny young rat snake that was trying to warm itself on the road- I picked up a small twig and moved it off the pavement so it wouldn't be hit. It's small head shone in the bright sun with an iridescent blue hue.

October 27: The weather has been cold and rainy for day after day this month, and any amount of sunshine is a treat. We ventured over to Clare today and sighted many Eastern Bluebirds in each of the 3 counties we drove through. Sighted our first American Tree Sparrows of the season as well. Clare & Gladwin counties are both very hilly and scenic, with many Amish farms dotting the countryside. I love how they stack the cornstalks in teepee shapes.

October 28: Bird activity is high today around the property. Blue Jays caching peanuts, White-breasted Nuthatches caching sunflower seeds (only to have them dissapear into the beaks of the B.C. Chickadees). Sandhill Cranes & Common Ravens passed overhead in the low clouds earlier in the day. Our first seasonal sightings of Snow Buntings near Rose City and also had a Northern Shrike while tooling around the area. Also had a most welcome sighting of a male Purple finch for a brief time at one of the feeders- the first I've seen in many months.

October 30: We spent a beautiful day in RRRA, enjoying a rare day of sun. The poor weather has had a negative effect on the colors this fall, but the environs are still quite scenic- Tamaracks surround Grousehaven lake in muted shades of brown and gold. 2 Sandpiper sp. were motoring about the shoreline and a Pileated Woodpecker cackled from nearby pines. Further down the trail, 2 Tundra Swans were quietly feeding in the shallows on Lodge Lake. While sitting on a ridge above the lake enjoying the swans, many Canada Geese could be heard honking in the distance- the small specks soon became larger specks and before long we had hundreds of them flowing overhead in a loosely formed V- they streamed by for 5 minutes heading southwest- 10 minutes later an equally large flock followed. Probably more than 500 total. Always gives me goosebumps to watch and listen to them.

Many duck species were scattered about Grebe lake- Buffleheads, Ring-necks and others. Ring-billed Gulls passed overhead while a Great Blue Heron worked the reeds around the fishing pier. A lone Belted Kingfisher rattled from the opposite shoreline and 2 Bald Eagles circled an area over the high ridge. Since the park was so very quiet, even small bird calls were easily heard. Many birds sighted and enjoyed today.

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