Detroit River CBC - 01 Jan 2022

Full reset! Its time to start anew. A New Year. Welcome 2022!

With rain forecasted for the morning, and snow predicted for the afternoon there was concern that owling would be fruitless if it was raining, so Allen Chartier suggested we meet on Belle Isle State Park midway to the Nature Center at 7 am. I arrived at our rendezvous point at 6:45 am and found Spence Vanderhoof and Larry Urbanski already celebrating 3 Screech Owls. No rain, and temps were hovering around 40F. Quite mild for January 1st.

I joined them and we quickly got 2 Eastern Screech Owls to respond to calls. Once Allen arrived we were able to get 3 calling again by the time April Campbell arrived. Even though it was still dark we managed to hear a Bald Eagle calling, as well as the first of many Winter Wrens of the day.

Near the Nature Center we were successful in getting a pair of Great Horned Owls to serenade each other just as the first light of the new year arrived. As we were among large patches of cattail marsh we also had several pairs of Winter Wrens sing and chatter, and also several pairs of Swamp Sparrows and Song Sparrows

We had hoped to pick up some recently-reported rare birds near the Nature Center: Virginia Rail, Lincoln's Sparrow, Gray Catbird, or Common Yellowthroat. We dipped on all of them. Bummer.

The group decided to then hike the "used to be a central avenue but now is a torn up muddy path with newly-planted oak saplings" trail (Central Avenue). The mud wasn't too horrible, but horrible enough four us to wish the road was still there. Even worse were the several canals we had to cross to continue along the muddy trail. They were treacherous, especially to those of us carrying camera equipment. We got through it ok, even managing to pick up a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, Red-bellied Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jays, and Hairy Woodpecker

We did get into some more Winter Wrens, and even found patches of Song Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows as we hiked along the perimeter of the central woodlot. Unfortunately, Lake Okonoka was flooded enough to prevent us from hiking the woodlot's edge to get to the north end of the park and back to the Nature Center. Instead, we had to backtrack a mile along the lake then take the main road back around the lake to get to the Nature Center. But, we did find some potential shorebird habitat come Spring. We also picked up a female American Kestrel perched on freshly-planted saplings near the flooded field.

Back at the Nature Center we tried for a Common Yellowthroat but dipped. Winds were now blowing from the north so the front was moving in. We also tried behind the Nature Center but found the feeders empty, and no birds to call in. 

It was now 11:30 am so the plan was to make a quick loop around the island in cars to look for ducks and gulls on the Detroit River. I managed to see an American Kestrel fly into the tree next to the road and got some pics from inside the car.

A quick scan of the river produced a Great Black-backed Gull but little else. Small flocks of Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser and Bufflehead were scattered and far between.

I needed to get home so I took my leave of the group just as the first drizzle started hitting the windshield. Thanks to Allen, April, Spence and Larry for letting me tag along on a nice start to 2022.

I'd get home just in time to get some nice Wayne Co. updates: 93 Greater White-fronted Geese on Siegler just east of Telegraph, and another 23 GWFG at Clark Rd next to Crosswinds Marsh. Also there was the Northern Shrike and Snowy Owl. Hopefully some of these birds will stick around tomorrow when my knees don't hurt so bad... 


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