August 1: Medical issues are keeping me inside for a few days, but am enjoying the squeaking and tussling of many hummingbirds at the feeders while I recoop. Not exactly sure how many are here, but they're good medicine.

August 3: Quite a few new butterflies are visiting the garden- Great spangled frits, little glassywing skippers and aphrodite frits, among others. Hopefully soon I'll feel up to taking images again, although it's been a restful change to just watch & listen to nature instead of photographing it.

August 5: Received very good news regarding my recent surgery, so am quite relieved and thankful today. To celebrate I sat out in the back yard and enjoyed at least 5 hummingbirds chasing each other around the property. We've had quite a few young frogs lately and I discovered one of them hiding under the hose. What a precious tiny creature.

August 8: Awoke to a sure sign of fall today- over 200 Common Grackles in the yard. It's been raining on and off for over a week now and the woods are filled with many interesting/unusual mushrooms but the mosquitoes are too unbearable to be out there exploring very long. I've hung yellowjacket traps out to catch some of the biting ball-faced hornets and yellowjacket bees- they're on every hummingbird feeder and making life quite miserable for the birds at the suet feeders too. I have yet to hang the wine ropes out for moths, mainly because the bees/hornets will be all over them within minutes. When taking in the hummer feeders this evening I walked right up to a flying squirrel feeding in one of the platform feeders. They're such an unusual animal with those huge eyes and bat-like appearance when gliding. Also heard a Barred Owl hooting around 2 am, just off the back deck.

August 9: We spent a wonderful afternoon at Nayanquing Point WA today, after finally healing enough from surgery to get in/out of the truck. Birds are always such good medicine. The trail running east from the tower was absolutely teeming with warblers, sparrows, vireos and their young. Dozens upon dozens of Cedar waxwings buzzed about within the thick cover and we walked right by a nesting female in the sumac bushes unknowingly- only when she flushed after we'd already walked past her did we see her nest, a first for me. Mosquitoes were thick but the birding was so fantastic that it was worth every single bite. One of my favorite sightings of the day were 2 juvenile Sedge Wrens- cute as a button, these tiny wrens were very curious and flitted about the reeds and grasses right near our feet. There were also many juvie Marsh Wrens along the trails- just precious.

August 14: The weather has turned oppressive with high humidity and temperatures. Good for the butterfly garden, which is blooming nicely now. Frits are abundant but I have yet to see a Hummingbird moth- wondering if our extremely cold winter killed off the hibernating pupas. The moth population is really down from last year at this time. At any rate, we have at least 9 hummingbirds zipping around the house and property and the pond has been quite busy, with juvenile Baltimore Orioles, titmice and chipping sparrows splashing about. We have a few eastern cottontail rabbits that come in at dusk each night to feed & drink and the squirrels & chipmunks are already stowing away acorns for winter.

August 22: We spent some time fishing on Long lake in Iosco county this week, a much needed break. Didn't catch a single fish but had a wonderful time regardless. A common loon drifted nearby with a grown chick in tow, while Common Nighthawks zig-zagged overhead. A beautiful male juvenile Scarlet Tanager visited the pond earlier this week and splashed about the water with young Northern Flickers, titmice, goldfinch and chipping sparrows. I haven't been able to get into my webpage files, so this month's journal is going to be a bit sporadic, at best.

August 22: We still have at least 9 hummers here and their squeaks are such a delightful noise. They're so amusing to watch hiding in the flowers then darting out to ambush each other. It's obvious they're having a good time. I observed a large garter snake on the driveway today, the first I've noted on our property all summer. A few catocala species are showing up at the mercury light and hummingbird clearwing moths are finally visiting the flowers.

August 23: The day started off a bit rocky after a Coopers Hawk made a quick sortie through the back yard, causing a fatal window strike for a juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak, despite the windchimes that covered the window. The protective screens went back up today, the hawks are very active this week & a panicked bird does not pay much attention to windchimes. We ventured to the rifle river, where I hoped to find some butterflies nectaring on the abundant swamp milkweed- not much luck in the butterfly department but we encountered many birds, including a family of Nashville Warblers that bounced around the tall grasses.

August 24: I've been noticing a chipping sparrow over the past couple of days that I thought was eating acorns- it came in to feed near the house today, so I grabbed the bins and the poor tiny bird has an acorn stuck square on it's beak. The more it pecks at the ground, the further up the acorn is pushed onto it's beak and I'm at a loss how to help it. If it becomes weak from lack of food/water, I'm hoping I can toss a sheet/net over it and remove the nut. On a brighter note, we did a bit of trailriding this afternoon in RRRA, and enjoyed the quiet that is returning to the area. Cardinal flowers are in full blossom, lining the area streams and yellow-legged meadowhawks are numerous.

August 26: I had quite a long conversation with a Barred Owl last evening. It perched close to the house, not far off the deck and the woods resounded with it's 'hoowahh' call. I answered back, trying to imitate the call, and what ensued was 15 minutes of owl-talk. The owl responded each time I answered. Flying squirrels were squeaking/chittering in what probably was 'lets get the heck out of here' talk, since the owl was very near the platform feeder that they feed in each night. I'm not quite sure what was said between the owl and myself, but it was one of the most enjoyable conversations I've had in awhile. Also had a sleepy underwing and a girlfriend underwing both at the mercury light & the tolypes have emerged, one of my faves. Warm fuzzies on a warm night.

August 27: The backyard looked like something out of the movie 'birds' today, with over 200 Common Grackles descending on every feeder and filling up the pond. What a racket of feathers. Tonight while at the computer, I heard a loud thunk against the house, then saw a flash go by the office window. I looked out and there sat a Screech owl in the window flower box. I hurried out to make sure it wasn't hurt and it flew up to a low limb and rested a few seconds then it flew south, up and over the house. Apparently it was uninjured, so I'm not sure if it was the owl that hit the house of whatever it was chasing. I don't know what would have made that loud of a thunk unless perhaps it was persuing a bat. Later on we took our telescope out to state land near the river to watch Mars and enjoyed the chorusing of many coyotes and heard a Great Horned Owl off in the distant pines. The star-filled heavens were beautiful and Mars was in clear view.

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

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