Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Belle Isle Park, Detroit - 01 Jan 2013

Happy New Year! I had the opportunity to help out w/ the Detroit River Christmas Count, which is held annually on January 1st.  Allen Chartier invited me to join him, David Boon and Bill Rapai to bird Belle Isle.

We met up at the Nature Center at ~6:30 am and headed into the woods to look for Northern Saw-whet, Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owls.  Though we would dip on Saw-whets, we had a Screech Owl responding to a tape recording almost immediately.  The bird appeared overhead about 20' away and provided a photo opporunity.  David was able to put the flashlight on the bird while I photographed it using the 300/2.8 VRII and Better Beamer flash extender.  First bird seen of the year, and 1st photograph of 2013!

We would end up calling in 6 Eastern Screech Owls, while hearing 2 Great Horned Owls.  We spent a good amount of time trying to locate the GHO's, but gave up once the skies brightened enough to go look for waterbirds.

Inland ponds on the island were frozen, so we had to stick to the open waters of the Detroit River to find waterfowl and gulls.  Mallard, Canada Goose and Ring-billed Gulls were most common, but we ran into rafts of Redhead, Canvasback, Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Duck, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Ring-necked Ducks.  Allen found a Peregrine Falcon a half-mile across the river atop the Whitier Building while we scoped a light-colored Great Black-backed Gull out on a small ice flow. 

Blue Jays were providing some color on this very cold, dark, overcast morning.  So I spent a few minutes photographing this normally-elusive bird.

A Bald Eagle was spotted flying across the river toward us, and landed in the trees on the other side of the island.  We were able to catch up to it and get some digiscoped images.

Without ice on the river the gull and duck populations were scattered, so we got fewer-than-expected numbers of each.  At the Nature Center we were able to pick up Northern Cardinals, American Tree and Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatch and Black-capped Chickadees

In the woods nearby the bird of the morning was Red-bellied Woodpecker.  We were seeing them everywhere.  Blue Jays were also numerous.  We ran into Pat Jakel, who had just photographed the Eastern Towhee that had been spotted a few days ago.

Though we called it quits at noon, it was a great morning to ring in the New Year!

Allen's e-Bird entry:

Time Start: 6:30 a.m.
Time End 12:30 p.m.
Temp: 28-26
Cloud Cover: Overcast (a.m.) to mostly cloudy (noon)
Wind: NW @ 7-10 mph
Precip: Light snow (a.m. only)
Still water frozen, moving water mostly open
Snow cover: 2-4"

Miles owling: 2.0
Hours owling: 1.25

Miles driven (not incl. owling): 15.0
Hours driven (not incl. owling): 4.5

Miles walked (not incl. owling): 1.75
Hours walked (not incl. owling): 1.75

Observers (5 observers in 2 parties):

Allen Chartier (area coordinator)
David Boon
Patrick Jakel (1 hour only)
Jerry Jourdan
Bill Rapai (covered mainland from 10:00-11:30)

Species (48):

Canada Goose - 1877
Mute Swan - 491
Gadwall - 9
Mallard - 281
Canvasback - 296
Redhead - 453
Ring-necked Duck - 57
Greater Scaup - 2
Lesser Scaup - 5
Bufflehead - 112
Common Goldeneye - 99
Hooded Merganser - 137
Common Merganser - 172
Ruddy Duck - 51
Bald Eagle - 1 ad.
Cooper's Hawk - 1 (by Bill on mainland)
Red-tailed Hawk - 3
American Coot - 72
Ring-billed Gull - 970
Herring Gull - 200
Great Black-backed Gull - 7
Rock Pigeon - 139 (78 by Bill on mainland)
Mourning Dove - 22 (1 by Bill on mainland)
Eastern Screech-Owl - 6
Great Horned Owl - 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 12 (2 by Bill on mainland)
Downy Woodpecker - 6
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Peregrine Falcon - 1 (perched on Whittier)
Blue Jay - 37
American Crow - 9
Black-capped Chickadee - 6 (2 by Bill on mainland)
Tufted Titmouse - 4
White-breasted Nuthatch - 10 (2 by bill on mainland)
Carolina Wren - 2
American Robin - 53 (47 by Bill on mainland)
European Starling - 92 (72 by Bill on mainland)
Cedar Waxwing - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1 (photographed by Pat only)
American Tree Sparrow - 12
Song Sparrow - 1
White-throated Sparrow - 3
Dark-eyed Junco - 15 (4 by Bill on mainland)
Northern Cardinal - 27 (4 by Bill on mainland)
House Finch - 19
American Goldfinch - 33
House Sparrow - 171 (108 by Bill on mainland)

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