March 1: We thought we'd brave the muddy trails again today in the rain/fog and I'm sure glad we did. On Stahlbush Rd we encountered a banded adult Bald Eagle- this is the first time we've viewed an eagle in this particular area. A flock of over 50 Wild Turkey fed nearby in the field and a Northern Harrier worked the opposite side of the road. After we left the feedstore, the real fun began. We took Beach Rd. and wound around to Mills Rd, then made our way around the heron rookery- then back from Prescott via Sage Lake Rd.. there were times when we had to slow the jeep to a crawl because so many Horned Larks were flying over the road, with a few Snow Buntings mixed in here and there. I didn't even try to count how many we passed by today, hundreds of them. I can still hear those sweet peeps.

March 3: On the way back from West Branch today, we slowed down to look over the field east of the Selkirk cemetary on State Road- 100's of Wild Turkey and white-tailed deer were feeding on the recently spread manuer and two Bald Eagles, one adult and one immature, were fighting high above the deer carcass. They did everything but lock talons and the younger bird was getting some pretty strong lessons in eagle etiquette. A few chipmunks are venturing out of their burrows now.

March 4: A quick trip over to Prescott in search of rough-legged hawks produced one perching over Sage lake road. Not many of the horned larks were present, but we did find 3 Bald eagles in a hayfield feeding. Near the heron rookery we sighted a Northern Shrike and on the muddy road home we passed a huge flock of Wild Turkeys.

March 5: Today we checked the nest near Rose City and there were two adults inside the nest, moving sticks around and acting very much like they're going to stay. Also had a Ruffed Grouse perched in a small tree close to the road. Ventured up into Ogemaw Hills where we met with torrents of melt-water rushing down the trails and most of the area was socked in with fog. Heard two Common Ravens calling back & forth and caught a glimpse of a large raptor- am guessing N. Goshawk. The snow is melting off fast, except for in the denser woods.

March 8: We had an adult male American Kestrel on State Rd. today, just east of West Branch. Haven't seen them in quite some time. Also at home, we have over 6 dozen Common Redpolls today.. they're on every feeder they can fit on and we tossed additional nyger seed on the ground so more could feed.

March 9: We pointed our jeep south today & eventually headed down to Lake Huron, which is still iced in. Like I do each spring, I rolled down the windows, closed my eyes , hung out my head and just listened to the sweet songs of tree sparrows, american robins and many many red winged blackbirds.. I kept my eyes closed for a long time and just listened. Such rich notes singing konk-la-reeeeeee..' I'm here! See my bright epaulets? And watch my tail feathers, I can spread them soooooo wide and I can call louder than the next guy on the tree next to me.' I drank in each song with gratitude. Birds always keep their promise, they're usually pretty much on time and when they do arrive they bring such beautiful music with them. I love them for that.

March 10: I was delighted to hear and see our first Red-winged Blackbird on the property today. Perched high and displaying those wide tailfeathers, he's already announcing his arrival loudly. Many racoons have been coming out into the yard at night and each day brings more chipmunks scampering around the feeding areas.

March 11: While watching the light snowfall last evening, I noticed an insect flying around under the mercury light. I went out to investigate and discovered a very worn and very cold moth.

March 12: Despite windchills of 10 degrees, we had another 'spring' visitor today at the feeders. Our first European Starling.

March 13: Did some trailriding in RRRA today, not much happening in the park bird-wise except for a Pileated woodpecker/chickadees and a few American Crows. We left the park as the sun started to set and passed an American Kestrel just off Sage Lake Rd on Wiltse Rd, perched on a wire- further up the road a smaller bird perched on the same wire.. the sillouette looked very familiar and sure enough, when the bird took wing and then landed on a sumac bush facing us, it was a beautiful male Eastern Bluebird. He sat for a long time allowing us to view his pretty self. Also sighted one R.L. Hawk near the river access on Sage Lake Rd. earlier today.

March 14: Took a quick trip over to the Prescott area and checked out the hayfields around the heron rookery. We counted several Rough-legged Hawks and a few Northern Harriers. At one point, a rough-legged took chase after a male harrier, but the harrier was unscathed and eventually broke away from the larger hawk. We watched it make a swift kill out in the field- a gray ghost with eyes of gold shining through the grasses. We also enjoyed quite a few American Kestrels perched along the fenceposts watching the fields intently.

March 19: There are easily 200+ Common Redpolls here feeding today, and among them is one Hoary Redpoll- trying to get a photo, but it's very skittish and each time a chipmunk,squirrel or deer wanders near it, off it goes. It's sure a pretty little thing. We observed several Rough-legged Hawks in the area this afternoon- a pair of dark morphs wheeled overhead when we drove by the eagle nest near Rose City, and we spotted a couple light-morphs north of town.

March 22: Good numbers of Purple finch are coming into the feeders now, and the males are so very colorful. We still have quite a number of Common Redpolls with us and several Red-winged Blackbirds now. The cold temperatures remain, but the bird songs are increasing as well as the mating displays among most of the species. We also have a wounded black squirrel that can't walk in a straight line and lays on her side to feed. I'm trying to make sure she gets a bit of extra food, because it appears as if she's nursing, since her teats are all swollen. The chipmunks are back to normal, racing around the yard and chasing each other for hours.

March 25: I find it difficult to describe the numbers of Common Redpolls we've had here since this morning- and at least 3 Hoary Redpolls. They covered the ground in a feathered blanket to the north, south, east and west. They covered the driveway and deck- they filled the pond and all of the feeders dissapeared under their sheer mass. They landed on the cars, the picnic table, the woodpile- anything that could be perched on. They pecked at every spec in the snow and fed voraciously and fast. I have never seen this many common redpolls in one place-ever. And I doubt that I will again, this has been an indescribable day. I don't even know what to put down for a count number other than hundreds, they flew in from every direction and the more I looked, the more I saw. Their songs were constant and even the scolding red squirrels could not be heard over the birdsong. Then when one flew, they all flew as one- the only indication that they were here is 6 empty thistle feeders.

March 29: This was another one of those "not gonna forget this day anytime soon" kind of days. Had an appt. in Tawas and from there we stopped by the river mouth where we viewed quite a few ducks, gulls, and one lone Lapland Longspur- it landed not far from me as I tried to take a few hooded merganser photos and didn't make a sound, just hopped about the sand looking for food. from there we headed north toward the park-Huge flocks of Dark-eyed Juncoes were along the roadside all the way out to the park and inside the park the songs of Song and Tree Sparrows filled the air with the trills of many many Dark-eyed Juncoes. 100's of them. But the bird of the day was Eastern Phoebes. Huge numbers of them spaced along the beach for as far as the eye could see- they would face out over the water, then jump up and catch insects that were apparently hatching out of the sand. They'd fly back to the tree line from the water, rest a bit, then fly back to the surfline and catch insects. While driving out of the park on the road closest to the beach we could see 3-4 phoebes flying up over each and every rise all the way down the trail, there were 100's of them out there today. What a blast!

Also sighted in the park- R.W. Blackbirds American Robins (huge flocks) Northern Flickers (5) A. Crows M. Doves (huge flocks) Killdeer Ringnecks Common Mergs Hooded Mergs Pintails Lesser Scaup Mallards G.B. Heron And while stopped at the entrance road, I had my eye on an Eastern Bluebird- rolled down the window and heard a very distinctive call.. waited a bit and sure enough, an Eastern Towhee scratched his way out of thick hemlocks. Returning home we viewed our first Osprey outside of Tawas city limits and near Beach Rd. our first Eastern Meadowlarks. At home we still have dozens of Common Redpolls and we also saw our first frog leaping over the road near Prescott today (several herons at the rookery, but no osprey on the nest yet). Spring has sprung!

Additional 2004 Journals: