I started my new year w/ a trip to Point Pelee and the Onion Fields this morning. Though I haven't committed to it entirely yet (it will all depend on what my eventual job situation is this year), I'm thinking I'm going to try to see 250 species of birds in Essex County this year. Kory Renaud inspired me w/ his final tally of 261 species for the County and I think I can get to 250 by year-end. After just doing a 300 year in Ontario, I don't want to have any commitments as large as that was, but we'll see how things go. To be honest, setting goals like this gets me out birding more because I want to see as many species as I can so I think it'll help motivate me on those mornings where you just want to sleep in but you know you'll regret not getting outside later in the day.
My year list after today stands at 41 species.
My first 10 birds of the year, in order, were:
1. House Sparrow
2. European Starling
3. American Tree Sparrow
4. Dark-eyed Junco
5. Black-capped Chickadee
6. Northern Cardinal
7. Downy Woodpecker
8. Mourning Dove
9. American Kestrel
10. Horned Lark
Most of these I had at my feeder right when I woke up. On the drive to Pelee, I added Common Grackle, Northern Harrier, Lapland Longspur, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Rock Pigeon. No Snow Buntings yet...
At the Tip, the highlight was an adult Glaucous Gull. My hopes were high that the Purple Sandpiper would still be hanging out down there. Unfortunately, it wasn't present. That would have been a great bird to get out of the way on the first day!
All 3 Scoter species were present w/ a single Black Scoter seen, many White-winged Scoter, and a handful of Surfs mixed in w/ a huge raft of scaup along the west side of the Tip. American Pipits were feeding on the beach at the Tip and a good number of Bonaparte's Gulls were on the water along w/ Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed Gulls. No Iceland this morning. I hope I can knock that species off soon.
I also added Horned Grebe, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, a single Ruddy Duck, Canada Goose, Long-tailed Duck, and American Crow in the area between the southern tram loop and the Tip.
Elsewhere in the park, I heard Golden-crowned Kinglet, saw a few American Robins, a single White-throated Sparrow, and a Cooper's Hawk near the park gates.
Finally, on the drive home, I added Bald Eagle and Song Sparrow. I searched for Long-eared and Snowy Owls in the Onion Fields (including the one reported today from Erie Shores Golf Course), but couldn't turn anything up.
Going to see if I can get to over 50 species by tomorrow. Shouldn't be too hard!