Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dearborn area of the Detroit River CBC, 01/01/09

The 2008 birding year ended for me with a Great Horned Owl heard calling as I left my neighbor's house at 10:45 pm last night. The 2009 birding year began with a Great Horned Owl calling from within Greenfield Village at 5:39 am. The Great Horned and two Eastern Screech-Owls were my owling contribution to the 2009 Dearborn section of the Detroit River CBC and my last CBC for this season. The above photo is of Snow Woods at the corner of Rotunda and Snow. This year, as usual, I did not have a screech here and the daytime birding was scant as well.

From Snow Woods I went to Ford Field where I had my best birding of the day. The three mallards above are from the group of 57 that I found in the river. I also had one Brown Creeper and two White-throated Sparrows here.

Amongst the mallards I found this funny, uncountable bird; part mallard and part ... goose? Is that possible? I thought the facial patterning was the best clue to identifying this fat hybrid, but I have not figured her (I'm assuming it's female) out. One interesting feature of this bird was that she had a stifftail like a Ruddy Duck - as it shows in the photo below.

The last haul for me was along the channelled section of the Rouge River between Rotunda and Southfield. Thank goodness I need the exercise because the birds certainly did not show up for me.
So, what does one do when there are not many birds to count as was the case for me today? I like doing Christmas Bird Counts for the possibilities that they promise. But, when the weather is bitter cold as it was today, I try to pay attention other things that always seem to turn up.

Though it is not a bird, possibly my best sighting of the day was this mink found on the north bank of the Rouge River in Ford Field. I was walking on a narrow, sloping path hoping to see or hear Carolina Wren because the habitat was very suitable for them. I needed to watch my footing because there was little room for error. If I slipped I would be in the river. I did not find Carolina Wren, but this fellow suddenly appeared in front of me. I was surprised. Except for one mink seen several years ago in Tahquamannon Falls State Park in the upper peninsula, I have not seen another in Michigan. Today I found one in my hometown. As you can see, he's considering me closely as he poses for this photo. I got three shots from this distance and then tried my luck at getting closer. Just a couple of steps forward and he was gone, running down the snowy path with, unlike me, little concern for his footing.

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