the year in birds: 2008

January 1, 2009

in Me

Most notable for me birding-wise in 2008 was my inadvertent big year in my home city. I had 169 species, blowing away any previous year’s total. I got my last city bird New Year’s Eve day, an American Black Duck at the Ford Rouge Plant.

The Rouge — besides being an amazing place in a sort of post-apocalyptic industrial way — is good for waterfowl in winter because the water around the plant stays open. Some of the ship turning basin is visible from the road, but good birds are more often found from inside the plant. I get in with one of my best friends, a city cop who is also an avid birder. A lot of Black-crowned Night-Herons winter inside the plant in a small, sorry-looking discharge pond that never freezes. We counted 27 tucked in the phragmites around the pond. My friend also took us into the Ford Proving Grounds, where we tried for Lapland Longspur or Snowy Owl. Sometimes there are surprises in the wide open spaces enclosed by the test tracks, no luck yesterday, though.

The total number of birds I’ve seen in my city is 217.  New for me this year were Horned Grebe, White-winged Scoter (which was new on the city checklist, which stands at 250 species), Virginia Rail, and Long-eared Owl.

  • New life birds: 63. Most were from my trip to Panama last January.
  • Total life birds: 974.
  • Total ABA-area birds: 578.
  • Total state birds: 310 (up two, Black Scoter and Franklin’s Gull)
  • Total birds in my home county: 257 (good year for county birds for me, adding Eared Grebe, Black Scoter, Short-billed Dowitcher, Red Knot, Franklin’s Gull, and Bohemian Waxwing).
  • Total birds at work: 188 (new this year, Merlin and Long-eared Owl)
  • Yard birds: 135 (new this year, Summer Tanager).

I’ve done this summary the last few years. Here are links to 2005, 2006, and 2007.

As for predictions for 2009, my big scores will hinge upon a planned trip to Nicaragua in March. Kingfisher and I will be doing some bird banding near Matagalpa and insect surveys for the owners of at least two eco-lodges. This is our second attempt to arrange a Nica trip, so we hope this one works out.

I wish you many good birds — and peace and joy — in 2009. Happy New Year.


{ 2 comments }

John January 2, 2009 at 12:06 am

Congratulations on the new record!

I wonder why the water doesn't freeze at. Is the water heated in some way? Or is it chemicals?

Nuthatch January 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

For the river, it's warm water discharge. The pond is away from the manufacturing assembly line building, but near the steel facilities. It's all kind of creepy looking and frankly I'm sure the water has its share of contaminants. Nonetheless, it's clean enough to support some sort of food supply, since once the Rouge and Detroit Rivers freeze, there's no place else for the herons to forage.

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