On January 9, eight participants joined Kory Renaud and me for the Detroit River and Ojibway Park OFO Outing. We finished w/ a total of 45 species w/ stops at Lakeview Park Marina on the Detroit River, Little River Corridor Park, and Ojibway Park.
The milder temperatures today were a welcome change from the colder temperatures experienced throughout the week and made for a comfortable day of birding. Fortunately, the recent cold weather has frozen up most of Lake St. Clair and has started to concentrate gulls and waterfowl in the open water of the Detroit River.
We started our morning at Lakeview Park Marina where the Detroit River meets Lake St. Clair. Here we saw good numbers of expected waterfowl like Canvasback, Redhead, and Common Merganser, and lower numbers of Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Red-breasted Merganser. Canvasbacks, which overwinter on the Detroit River in large numbers, are always a highlight of this outing and we saw at least 1,000 birds in flight and in rafts from the marina as well as several smaller flocks flying over throughout the day. Another highlight was an American Coot fairly close on the river followed by a first winter "Thayer's" Iceland Gull, which flew close to our group and provided great opportunities for photos. Also notable was a group of 49 Great Blue Herons that were flushed from Peche Island and flew out over the river before returning to the island. It was an incredible sight to see this many herons at one time in January!
Our next stop was Little River Corridor Park. Warm water effluent from the Little River Pollution Control Plant keeps Little River open throughout the winter and is a good spot for waterfowl, herons, and other water birds. There were several Canada Geese and Mallards in the river as well as a continuing female Green-winged Teal. Although Wood Ducks have been reported throughout the week from this location, we couldn't find them today. A Belted Kingfisher hunting along the river was another nice winter find.
On the drive to Ojibway Park after lunch, a few members of the group drove past the Ambassador Bridge to see one of the resident Peregrine Falcons. This is a reliable spot to find Peregrine Falcons in the winter where they roost on the bridge and hunt pigeons and other birds. At Ojibway Park, we finally started to tally more passerines for the day. Ojibway Park is a great spot to bird in the winter for close looks at species like Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a variety of other common species. Many in our group were able to get excellent photos of Tufted Titmouse coming to seed left along the trails. Other highlights included a Brown Creeper, a small flock of American Robins, and a beautiful male Eastern Towhee feeding along the trail edge.
Thank you to everyone who attended the outing and for helping make the day fun and safe w/ masking and social distancing.