January 2016
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed about the Detroit River.

Message from the RAP Coordinator
Happy Holidays! Looking forward to many more clean ups, tree plantings, and projects in 2016. Please note that the office will be closed until Monday, January 4th. Best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!

Claire Sanders & Sarah Baldo
Detroit River Canadian Cleanup

State of the Strait 2015: Coordinating Conservation
State of the Strait
This year's State of the Strait conference was held at Eastern Michigan University on December 9. The theme for the 2015 conference was, "Coordinating Conservation in the St. Clair-Detroit River System." Many government managers, researchers, students, concerned citizens, and
environmental and conservation organizations attended, including the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup. Topics covered ranged from, Lake Erie's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy to chironomid monitoring in the Detroit River. The State of the Strait is a binational conference that takes place every two years - the conference report will be published early in 2016. 
For more information on the State of the Strait conference, visit www.uwindsor.ca/softs/.
Wildlife in the Detroit River Watershed
Intense pollution, hunting pressure, and environmental degradation over the last century drove many species of wildlife away from the area, including beavers from the Detroit River. However, in recent years, improving environmental conditions in the Detroit River has led to the return of "charismatic megafauna" (The Return of Detroit River's Charismatic Megafauna, John H. Hartig).
Recently, Essex Region Conservation Authority water quality staff found evidence of beavers in both Turkey Creek in LaSalle and Little River in Windsor, two tributaries of the Detroit River. Despite water sampling at these locations for the last several years, this is the first time staff have come across evidence of beavers.
Evidence of beavers in Turkey Creek, LaSalle (S. Baldo, Nov. 2015)
Do you have any wildlife sightings or photos taken within the Detroit River watershed? Please send them to the DRCC so that we can share them with others who are interested in the improving health of the Detroit River ecosystem.
33rd Year of Monitoring Detroit River Bird-of-Prey Migration Completed 
Grosse Ile - Daily updates of the continentally significant bird migration at the Detroit River began on September 1st and came to an end on November 30th - the same time period for the past 33 years. Over the last three months, thousands of people followed the on-line summaries (www.drhawkwatch.org/hawk-count-monthly-summary). Still relatively little known by the general public, the autumn migration of birds of prey over the Detroit River documents the largest fall passage of broad-winged hawks and turkey vultures in the Great Lakes and is North America's leading site for red-shouldered hawk, documenting hundreds of thousands of birds each year. The annual count, conducted since 1983, systematically records the bird migration using volunteers each day from September 1st through November 30th at the Lake Erie Metropark boat launch. One highlight from this year was that over 14,000 broad-winged hawks were counted crossing the Detroit River on their fall migration on four different days in the month of September (September 13, 20, 21, and 22).  
The program demonstrates the multiple benefits of long-standing, high quality citizen science programs. It has been coordinated by the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge since 2008 and is supported through fund-raising by the Refuge's Friends Organization - the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance. Drawing thousands of bird-watchers each year and international attention, the Refuge is the official coordinator of the count and the steward of 33 years of migration data, including not only raptor migration, but weather, incidental wildlife sightings, and phenology notes.   
This year monitored the passage of seventeen species of migratory birds-of-prey, totaling 159,510 individual birds-of-prey (e.g., hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures). This information is deposited at hawkcount.org with a daily narrative each night during the season. The program has corroborated other information that documents the region's increase in migratory bald eagles and turkey vultures (219 and 73,601, respectively in 2015) and contributed trend data for species of concern, such as red-shouldered hawk, American kestrel, and osprey (seasonal totals: 763, 816, and 81, respectively, in 2015).
This year marked relatively high years in species showing cycles of high and low breeding success, which almost exclusively occurs in Ontario and Quebec for those birds migrating at Detroit River. This included northern harrier (632) and American kestrel (816), whose previous long-term averages are 472 and 932, respectively.

For more information, contact Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Biologist Greg Norwood (734-692-7611 or [email protected]). 
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
The Detroit River in the news....here are some relevant, external links to news articles that may pique your interest. Click on the link to read on.
Upcoming Events
Save the date for these great local events! Please ensure you contact the organizer for more information.
January 1, 2016
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is conducted in over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Christmas Bird Counts are conducted on any one day between December 14 and January 5, inclusive. They are carried out within a 24-km diameter circle that stays the same from year to year. These bird observations have been amassed into a huge database that reflects the distribution and numbers of winter birds over time. Birds are indicators of the overall health of our environment. As well as adding an exciting and fun event to the holiday season, the Christmas Bird Count provides valuable insight into the long-term health of bird populations and the environment. 
Christmas Bird Counts are generally group efforts, though single-observer counts can and do happen. They are organized at the local level, usually by a birding club or naturalists organization. Volunteers are welcome! For more details about the Detroit River count on January 1, 2016, please contact the Ojibway Nature Centre (519-966-5852).
January 9, 2016: 9:00am-3:00pm
Lakeview Park Marina, 9200 Riverside Drive East, Windsor 

Join the Essex County Field Naturalists' Club and the Ontario Field Ornithologists for a bird excursion encompassing the Detroit River and surrounding areas. Meet leaders, Kory Renaud, Jeremy Bensette, and Jeremy Hatt at 9:00 a.m. at Lakeview Park Marina on Riverside Drive. Winter is an excellent time of  year to observe waterfowl, gulls and birds of prey using the often open water of the Detroit River. We will start the day at the marina, then visit the Little River Corridor, and continue down river to check a few more spots, ending the day at Ojibway Park. Be sure to dress for the weather and pack some snacks. Bring your scope if you have one. Due to the duration of the outing, we will make a brief stop for lunch. Everyone is welcome!
January 13, 2016: 7:30pm
Ojibway Nature Centre, 5200 Matchette Road, Windsor

Little River Enhancement Group History
Ian Naisbitt was an elementary school educator for 30 years and created the Habitat 2000 Club at Concord School in 1989, organizing 6 river cleanups of the "old channel" of Little River in East Windsor. In 1991, he helped establish the Little River Enhancement Group, which consisted of educators and representatives of the City of Windsor, Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, Essex Region Conservation Authority, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Habitat 2000 Club Concord Public Elementary School (1989-1990). Accordingly, Lil' Reg "adopted" the Little River Watershed, which drains portions of the Town of Tecumseh and the City of Windsor into the Detroit River. Local schools and community volunteers have helped with Lil' Reg's efforts to improve the quality of the watershed ecosystem. The group coordinates beneficial environmental activities throughout the river basin using a multi-stakeholder approach in the community and both Ian and Lil' Reg have won numerous awards for their contributions. In 2007, Lil' Reg restructured and became a committee of Essex County Nature.
January 14, 2016: 7:30pm
Essex Civic Centre (Room C), 360 Fairview Avenue West, Essex

Being Saved from Extinction - New Zealand's Native Birds
Todd Pepper will describe the risks that the native birds of New Zealand have faced from 1280 to present. This is a fundraising event with donations of $20.00 gratefully received. Refreshments will be served.
January 16, 2016: 9:00am-noon
Nashua Trail, Belle Isle, MI

On Stewardship Saturdays, volunteers can help remove invasive plant species from the island. The purpose of this task is the preservation of Belle Isle's old growth forest by pinpointing invasive plants such as honeysuckle and privet, the primary invaders. These plants do not provide the proper nutrition for migratory birds. It's sort of like providing "junk food" for birds. Plants like these create monocultures in the forest understory, crowding out native plants that are nutritious for birds. Ecological balance is our prime concern. Please join us in doing work that is so needed in Belle Isle's natural areas. It's a small commitment, the work is not taxing, and safety is a priority. We start at 9 a.m. and end at noon. Please no children under age six. All children must be supervised by an adult. Please contact the Nature Zoo for activities for small children. To sign up for these activities please RSVP to Laurel Malvitz (313-331-7760).
January 29 & 30, 2016
Friday: 7:00pm, Saturday: 7:00 & 9:00pm
Point Pelee National Park, 1118 Point Pelee Drive, Leamington

Wondering what the owls of Point Pelee National Park are up to? Discover who, who, who's out there on an evening adventure with a park interpreter. Enjoy the fresh winter air, the peacefulness and dark skies of Point Pelee National Park as you listen for their alluring calls. Learn about the world of the mysterious owl. Bring the whole family to this invigorating nighttime adventure and stay late on January 30 for star gazing when the park is open until midnight. For more information, call 519-322-2365 ext. 0.
Cost: $14.70 Family/Group admission
Job Postings
These postings are for jobs at various locations with varying deadlines. Please click on the job title to view job details. Contact the listed agency in the job ad for more information.