Sunday, November 12, 2017

Some Old, Old, Erie Marsh CBC Records - 11 Nov 2017

Russ Schipper, long-time state-compiler for Michigan Christmas Bird Counts, sent me some old records (1968, -65, -64 and -48) from the Michigan portion of the Toledo, OH Christmas Bird Count. The Michigan portion consists mainly of the Erie Marsh Preserve that is now part of the Monroe, MI CBC Count Circle. Incidentally, Erie Marsh has, and continues to be a part of the Toledo, OH CBC Count Circle as well as the Monroe, MI CBC. What is neat about these records is that they were submitted by the renowned Ornithologist Harold Mayfield, who invented the Kirtland's Warbler. Ok, maybe not invented, but Mr. Mayfield was well-known for his efforts in studying and understanding the ecological needs of the Kirtland's Warbler, and largely responsible for their recovery.

Notable sightings from the 20 December 1968 Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count were:
1 Cattle Egret
37 Ring-necked Pheasant
1 Virginia Rail
15 Bobwhite
180 Great Black-backed Gull
1 Saw-whet Owl
27 Swamp Sparrow

Ring-necked Pheasants and Bobwhite are two species that are almost never found on our CBC today, so seeing such large numbers is very interesting...

Harold Mayfield, John Mayfield, John McCormick, John Stophlet, Paul Toppin, John Turner, and Robert Turner conducted the Erie Marsh and adjacent Lake Erie shore on 27 Dec 1964 as part of the Toledo, OH CBC. Temps were in the 20-30's Fahrenheit, and 29 spp. were recorded. Notable sightings of the 1964 Erie Marsh count included:
1500 Common Black Duck
10 Rough-legged Hawks "The most I have ever seen at one time and place" - H.M.
46 Great Black-backed Gull - "A new high for this species here" - H.M.

Perhaps most interesting of the documents I received was the Erie Marsh report from 1948!!
Lou Campbell penned the following note to George (I'm assuming Dr. G.J. Wallace, Zoology Dept., Michigan State University, Lansing, MI) dated 1-24-49:

Dear George,

   Harold has gone to the Bahamas with Van Tyne. His secretary called me and told me about your request. Enclosed is the complete census and the Michigan portion. 
   Whether it was because of the sudden cold spell or not, our results were very disappointing. For the first time in very many years, even Cleveland topped our list. In parts of the territory song birds were very scarce and apparently few out-of-season species remained. Last year we found many more.
   Laurel Van Camp (address Genoa Ohio) saw an ivory gull in the Detroit River somewhere around Jan 12. He was with Fred Brint (federal man) and John Anderson of Winous Pt. marsh Ohio. Van Camp is first class observer. 


Lou Campbell
4531 Walker Avenue
Toledo, OH

Here is the Toledo, OH CBC List for 1948.  Highlights of the count included:
2 Great Black-backed Gulls - note how their numbers have increased since
90 Ring-necked Pheasant - note how their numbers have decreased since
3 Barred Owl - nice

Wow! An Ivory Gull was apparently seen ~12 Jan 1949 on the Detroit River. I checked the Michigan Rare Bird Records for Ivory Gull and this observation was either never submitted, or was unaccepted due to incomplete documentation. A bit more research put me on Julie Crave's Net Results website where more information has been uncovered. Thanks, Julie!


redknot said...

This is a very unique sighting and story of identification gone wrong. It reenforces the need to carefully note as much as possible the markings and behavior of rare birds and the reporting same in a timely manor. Today's electronic media surly helps to communicate rapidly the rare species. Hopefully this is a lesson learned by us readers.

Thanks Jerry for sharing this important find.
Bob Pettit

Unknown said...

There used to be fields full of Pheasants when they bread them at I75 and Erie Road, just inland from the power plant. Probably other places too. Back in my year listing days pheasant was usually a January 1 car window bird in Monroe County. Presumably pheasant breeding and releasing has gone out of vogue.