Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, New Moon? - 01 Jan 2018

I awoke to 2018 and prepared myself for the Detroit River Christmas Bird Count. At 5:30 am I decided to run outside to see if I could call in a Screech Owl for the first bird of 2018. A full moon was high in the west so I decided to make it my first photo of 2018. Which begged the question, "Is a full moon a new moon?". According to astronomists a new moon is the dark moon, but Jewish scholars believe that the full moon is the new moon. So, the decision appears to be NO and YES.

I spent a few minutes playing a Saw-whet Owl call, but got no replies. I then played the Eastern Screech Owl call and got an immediate reply. I then looked up and saw the owl fly directly overhead and land on the vent pipe of my roof. I turned to photograph it using 3 flashlights attached to my 300/2.8 VRII but it flew off before I could raise the camera. It flew back toward the woods and landed in a tree and was viewable with the flashlights. Unfortunately, it was too far away to get an exposure fast enough to not blur the ~720mm focal length.

At 6 am I took off for Belle Isle to meet Allen Chartier and David Boon for the morning survey of the island as part of the Detroit River CBC. It was 5F on the island, and from what I could gather the Detroit River looked completely frozen! I drove around to the old zoo and started playing some Saw-whet Owl calls at 6:30 am but got no responses.

I caught up with Allen and David and found that they had no luck with owls, either. We hit a couple more spots in the woods but still got no replies. But, just before sun-up we heard a Screech Owl. I then saw it fly over my head and land in the trees just above us. I was able to get a couple of fair images before it flew off. The flashlights allowed me to focus on it, but shutter speeds were too low to get a sharp image.

We then headed for the river and proceeded to F.R.E.E.Z.E. our a**es off just trying to count the 100's of Common Goldeneyes and 1000's of Common Mergansers on the Detroit River (Canadian side).  This black squirrel seemed to me mocking us as it sat in the tree eating ice in the sub-zero temperatures...

We stopped by the Nature Center to check the feeders. Besides the usual House Sparrows, Northern Cardinals , Blue Jays and Mourning Doves there were Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, and a few White-throated and Song Sparrows. An Eastern Towhee was seen yesterday by Frank McDonald, but hadn't shown this morning. Everything scattered when a Cooper's Hawk flew in looking for a meal (it failed).

A hike through the woods at the north end of the island yielded only a few Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Another stop at the feeders yielded no new birds, so we called it a day. Time to go home and warm up.

Happy 2018!

Belle Isle Park, Detroit US-MI (42.3458,-82.9720), Wayne, Michigan, US
Jan 1, 2018 7:38 AM - 12:38 PM
Protocol: Traveling
4.9 mile(s)
29 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  155
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)  20
Redhead (Aythya americana)  2
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  375
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  2
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  3500     Canadian side of Detroit River.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  150
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  20
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)  6
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  30
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  4
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  6
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  18
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis)  1
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  30
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  3
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  9
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  75

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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