December 1: December blew in on blustery winds with lake effect snow. The female and juvenile cardinals came in to feed tonight- we haven't seen or heard them in a few weeks.

December 5: The sun has finally decided to come out for a couple days and the temperatures have been quite moderate for this time of year. Most of our area lakes have a layer of shelf ice, but this time last year the ice was probably a foot thick on most inland lakes. Purple finch continue to multiply in numbers daily, with over a dozen on the property now.

December 7: While sitting out watching and listening to a couple of Brown Creepers swirling around the tree trunks, a male Pileated Woodpecker landed nearby. They tolerate me quite well- in fact they tolerate me much better than they tolerate each other.

December 8: We have a couple of red squirrels here, one of which is baffling me with her behavior. She gathers just one seed or peanut at a time, and then races back to the nearest leaf litter, where she tucks it just under the leaves. She spends so much energy doing this all day, and doesn't seem to have any rhyme nor reason to where she caches the seeds. At any rate, she's a fun little character to watch.

December 9: Made a quick run over to Oscoda today in hopes of finding the reported Rock Wren- we did. Our first sighting for this species in Michigan. A very gray and foggy day, but we enjoyed this delightful bird as well as White-winged Scoters,Glaucous Gulls,Bonaparte Gulls,Black-backed Gulls,Lesser Scaup,Northern Pintails Common Goldeneyes,Common Mergs and many many Mallards.

Just a handfull of fishermen were braving the brisk offshore winds, but a few good sized whitefish were being caught off the breakwall.

December 11: East of Selkirk we sighted 70+ Wild Turkeys feeding amongst the corn stalks this afternoon. This hilly area is always good for turkeys, probably because manuer spreaders are common there too. 2 Adult Bald Eagles were standing in a field further north on the opposite side of the road. Returning home, an adult Northern Shrike was perched on a powerline on henderson lake road. This is in the same spot that we consistently sighted the N. Shrike in last winter.

December 14: Todays light snows brought back our Dark-eyed Juncoes, Pine Siskin and our first Common Redpolls of the season. What a delight to see these beautiful winter finch again. We have at least four of them here, mixed in with large numbers of American Goldfinch.

December 19: A juvenile Sharp-shinned hawk staked out one of the feeders this morning. It perched and peered into the surrounding trees for a half hour before leaving the area.

December 25: As we often do when we get any significant snowfall, we took to the woods to do a bit of trailriding this afternoon. While walking along the rifle river near the access on Sage Lake Road, following the tracks of rabbit and fox, we heard the distant soft call notes of a small flock of golden crowned kinglets. Darting within the hemlock, spruce and pines along the riverbank with a few chickadees for company, hovering for seconds at the tip of a pine bough & gathering food that only they could see. I followed them into the thick stand of pines for quite a distance, then sat and listened.. totally enchanted by the sweet music of diminuitive Christmas angels moving about the trees like small jingle bells. Some of the best gifts come in the smallest packages.

December 26: We spent the afternoon trailriding in the park. The cedar swamps were absolutely magical, with waterdrops falling from the trees like bright diamonds. After a lovely sunny day of hiking in the park, we enjoyed a brilliant sunset over the lake. While unwinding from the day, a Great Horned Owl perched near our side deck- it called loudly and clearly 3 times, then flew silently back into the woods.

December 31: Hearing the words and music of 'auld lang syne' this evening, I think back on the many aquaintances we've shared our days with this past year. The wonderful times spent with good friends enjoying the wonder of nature, and the many winged and four-legged friends as well. So many have crossed our paths that have left a lasting impression upon both our hearts and minds. I will long remember them and I look forward to new adventures in the coming year.

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

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