May 1: I released the leopard frog outdoors a couple days ago. Checked today and it's doing just fine in the pond.

Reports of many migrants moving in to the south of us, but the chilly temperatures have put a damper on things yet again.

May 2: Did a bird-count in RRRA for the 'Great Global Bird Count'- good number of species despite the chilly winds. After returning home we first heard, then saw our first male Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the season. One of my favorite spring birds, it's wonderful to see them here again.

May 3: The female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks arrived today- totally backwards from last year, where the females arrived before the males. We birded around the hardwood lake area and had good looks at Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers and quite a few shorebirds. Still chilly but the round-lobed hepatica finally blossomed on the property.

May 4: The distinct 'freep' of a Great Crested Flycatcher rang out through our woods this morning- first of the season. We ventured up into the Maltby hills area to do a bit of mushrooming and found ourselves surrounded by many spring wildflowers- the hills were covered with round-lobed hepaticas, dutchmans breeches and mile upon mile of trout lily colonies.

We stayed on county roads winding north towards Mio, and birded the jackpine forest area- the bird of the day was definitely Vesper Sparrows, found along the trails feasting on insects. We have never encountered so very many of them before, such a delightful bird.

May 6: A constant rain brought many birds to the feeders and a Mallard pair to the cracked corn.

The R.B. Grosbeaks continue to arrive and we now have at least 5 males and 3 females around the property.

May 7: Our Baltimore Orioles arrived today, a day later than last year & we're also hearing a Eastern Wood Pewee calling on neighboring property. We watched a mother squirrel move two youngsters from the owl box today. What a task- she tried to carry them in her mouth, but they were about half her size and definitely weren't happy about being vacated from their nest. Eventually all of them made it down to the ground safely after much manuevering around.

May 8: The female orioles arrived today- and hot on their tails, literally- one very fiesty male hummingbird who is guarding every feeder on the place, including the oriole feeders. I almost feel sorry for them, they fly in and just start to enjoy a smorgasborg of oranges, jelly and nectar, then some lil throat-flashing brute starts chasing them around the yard.

Also heard our first Ovenbird of the season this morning.

May 9: Today marked the arrival of a Red-headed Woodpecker and another male hummer.

May 11: High winds and low temperatures caused a fall-out of birds around the property today. The woods are absolutely teeming with orioles and grosbeaks in hot pursuit of rivals and potential mates. We had our first Indigo Buntings and many warbler species moved through the trees in a constant surge northward throughout the day.

May 13: Still quite windy and cold- did a bit of birding around the Prescott area where we had our first Eastern Kingbirds of the season.

Many Yellow warblers, Bobolinks and Bank swallows around the Beach Rd. area.

May 14: Today held many gifts- the gift of perfect weather, beautiful birds and great friends. Birds were very active & it was just a super day. 22 Wood Warbler species today- woohoo!

From Tawas, we headed to Tuttle marsh where we birded until dusk. An absolutely wonderful day in every way - when we arrived home we had our first female hummingbird. We also have a Ruffed Grouse that has been drumming by moonlight this week.

May 15: Birded RRRA most of the day and had good numbers of warblers again- the bird of the day was definitely Palm Warblers, numerous throughout the park.

We sat along the riverbank and enjoyed many birds feasting on the hatching insects. We also had good numbers of flycatchers along Devoe lakeshore- the very distinctive 'whit' call notes identified them as Willows.

May 17: Spent some time at the rifle river access where we had quite a few warbler species feeding along the water. A male American Redstart was within reaching distance and I thoroughly enjoyed watching this small & colorful bird. He would stop feeding just long enough to sing, and when he sang he put his whole body into the song. Just magical.

We also checked the Bald Eagle nest near Rose City and there is no sign of adults nor chicks either one. The nest appears abandoned and it was disheartening to see it empty.

May 17: Spent some time enjoying the hummingbirds around our property today. While photographing the moths later in the evening, I heard first one.. then two.. then three Barred Owls calling, all within what I'd guess to be a half mile range. They went into what I call their howler monkey impersonation, and it was quite a thrill to hear.

May 18: Took the trails into Maltby hills area again and concentrated on Kirtlands warblers, which we did not see, but we enjoyed many other species of warblers, including a large flock of Magnolias. Their sweet songs just fill the air.. and speaking of songs! heard our first Wood Thrush today- along with Hermit & Swainson's Thrush, this area is just thrush heaven. We also heard our first Veery of the season.

Also spotted quite a few different butterfly & skipper species, especially in Oscoda county. I wasn't able to document any of them with photographs & get a positive id.

May 19: Added a very rare and special bird to my lifelist today- a bird that is so very rare to Michigan that I cannot put much about it on the net because of the circumstances surrounding the sighting. A great day and a great bird. Afterwards we birded the klacking creek area near Selkirk where we had quite a few species, including many Wood Thrush. Mosquitoes are starting to get pretty thick out in the deep woods.

May 20: While birding around the Prescott area today we had our first Black-billed Cuckoo of the season. We also literally stumbled upon yellow morels on our property.

Many wildflowers are abundant- fringed polygala, trillium, canada mayflower, and soon we're going to have more yellow lady slipper orchids than ever before. The rains have really been good to the flora. Tonights freeze warning may not be so kind.

May 21: Spent the day up in Maltby hills and Oscoda county again today where we had numerous sightings of birds. The numbers of Wood & Hermit thrush this year are just astounding! Quite a few warblers still migrating through, but still haven't sighted a Kirtlands in the jackpine area yet. Enjoyed quite a few Brown Thrashers perched on the deadsnags, what a melodious song they have. A couple new butterflies to add to our list- silvery blues and juvenal duskywings. We also spotted a large porcupine which sat still a whole lot longer than most of the warblers.

While driving back on Mapes road on the west side of M-33, we came across many clear-cut areas. It was quite disturbing to see miles of trees, an entire forest, literally ripped from the ground and the trees piled up like matchsticks. A Red-tailed hawk pair sat in a dead snag gazing over the empty hills while a lone Wood Thrush song echoed across the barren landscape.

May 22: We birded the Kirtland Warbler habitat west of Rose City today- still no Kirtlands sighted, although we did hear singing males. Vesper & Lincoln's Sparrows are abundant in this area, as well as many thrush species. Did quite a bit of trailriding/hill climbing in the Ogemaw Hills area, a very scenic area.

May 24: A small flock of Evening Grosbeaks stopped by the feeders for a brief visit this morning. We're seeing alot of pretty serious oriole battles and I'm going through a cup of grape jelly and 8 oranges a day. The trees are really staring to green up and leaf out now with all of the rains & we have at least 2 males and 3 female hummers here now- the males are doing their U courtship display all around the property.

May 26: The sun finally came out and after a few days of rain it felt good to just sit out woods and listen to birdsong. I miss the songs of the Wood Thrush & Veery and don't quite understand why the birds have moved on/stopped singing. We have an Ovenbird that sings almost every evening around midnight, and the Ruffed Grouse are still drumming. The vernal pool is still quite large and two Mallards visit it each day. Many species of frogs are chorusing around the area & the understory is so rich and teeming with wildflowers, mosses, mushrooms and ferns. The yellow ladyslipper orchids are in blossom now- one of my favorites.

May 27: Birded RRRA for the better part of the day, and enjoyed an abundance of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. The lilacs are in blossom now, so we sat and enjoyed several hummingbirds nectaring on them while Eastern Kingbirds feasted on the explosion of insects. Finally sighted Wilsons Warblers and Warbling Vireos were very abundant along the ridge.

While hunting mushrooms near Scaup lake, we watched a Great Crested Flycatcher pair and discovered where they are nesting. The female kept returning to the nest with food, so she's evidently feeding chicks already. Least Flycatchers were numerous and there were quite a few warblers feeding near the ranch campground area. Had my first polyphemus moth on the sheets tonight and am really piling up alot of photos to identify- one of these days!

May 28: Garry found the tiniest salamander today out by the woodpile. Barely 2 inches long but quick as a blue racer snake.

Returned to RRRA when we heard the weather forecast for thunderstorms. A banner day, birds were feeding hard along the ridge and the trail by grebe lake. Enjoyed redstarts an arms length away and watched a male hummer do repeated U displays over the female hummers that fed on lilacs. The bird of the day was definitely Cedar Waxwings, gorging themselves on apple blossoms. The park reminds me of a perfumery right now, there are so many fragrant shrubs in bloom that it's a very heady place to be.
Sighted quite a few new butterflies that I wasn't able to get photos of, and several snowberry clearwing moths at a humongous lilac bush near Scaup lake that is larger than our 3/4 ton truck. It took alot of courage for me to approach it for photos because it was so full of bees that their buzzing made my teeth hum! Garry caught a few nice crappies and a good sized pike.

May 29: The Red-headed Woodpecker returned this evening, but by the time I got to the window he was gone. Hopefully this means he's in the area to stay. Got great looks at one of our resident Great-crested Flycatchers today. He flew down from the canopy to feast on insects and his breast plumage is just so buttery in color and beautiful.

May 31: Finally got a good look at a Scarlet Tanager late this afternoon. I was beginning to think I was jinxed, but a beautiful male broke the spell. What a stunning bird. I am suprised to see the two female hummers sitting on the same feeder with each other lately and tonight, the male perched between them. 3 hummers on one feeder, that is a first for us. These females really seem mellow, but maybe it's the cooler weather that has them a bit subdued. Frost warnings are out for tonight.

Additional 2003 journals: January-February-March-April-June-July-August-September- October-November-December

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