Monday, February 24, 2014

Ducks in the D --- Winter birding on the Detroit River

White-winged Scoter at close range - Previously taken in 2011!

The Detroit River has been the highlight of my winter birding efforts over the years and this year is no different. This winter, there has been huge numbers of White-winged Scoters on the river. I've only been birding for 4 years, but I have never seen more than one or two White-winged Scoters along the Detroit river. This year, I've seen rafts of 20 ww-scoters in two or three different locations along the river! Long-tailed ducks are also extreme rarities along the Detroit river --- even though tens of thousands of these ducks are easily seen along the Sarnia River / Port Huron just one hour north of here.

White winged Scoters --- record numbers?

Sleeping Oldsquaw in Olde Sandwich Towne --- Ultra Rare!
During this last week, a Black Scoter was photographed at a park in West Windsor called McKee Park, just 200m west of the Ambassador Bridge. I tried to catch up the Scoter, only to come up empty-handed but was able to see this sleeping Long-tailed Duck instead. *Quick historical note* The area west of the bridge in Windsor is one of the oldest communities in Ontario. This house below, just one block from McKee Park is the Duff-Baby house built in 1798 --- It has changed ownership many times since it was built but this house was rumored to have hosted Chief Tecumseh and was at one time raided by the American army during the war of 1812! I had to throw in the historical reference --- Oldsquaw in Olde Sandwich Towne...

I also attended a nature outing held by the Essex County Field Naturalists which was held last weekend. While touring the Black-oak Heritage Park in West Windsor, we toured the last remaining undeveloped shoreline in Windsor --- a small strip of land called Ojibway Shores [map]. Our group saw some of the more common birds that one would expect to find in the forest and along the river --- our main highlight was some Glaucous Gulls always a pleasure to see. It was surreal to watch these gulls in front of the Zug Island industrial complex which one sees when standing on the shores of Ojibway! (Side note about Ojibway Shores: The Windsor Port Authority owns this land and was about to bulldoze it to store aggregate for a new bridge crossing over the Detroit River. A few hundred people protested and the port authority backed down -They promised not to destroy that last remaining natural area along the water for "two years").

My son and I walked up on this Eagle at Ojibway Shores on Family Day

A couple more scoter rafts above. Can you find the Surf Scoter?

Good birding!


  1. Most of the Sarnia Long-tailed Ducks have now disappeared. Lakes have opened up a bit so they have dispersed!

  2. Thanks for capturing pictures of these ducks. i've been seeing very large groups of them in the detroit river between the river canard bridge all the way to where allied chemical used to be. judy p. april 5th 2014



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