Sunday 31 January 2021

Middlesex Biggish Year: January Update

We have survived the first month of 2021! It was quite an exceptional month for birding, with many highlights. After month #1 in my "Middlesex Biggish Year", I have amassed 82 species, almost 80% of the species reported from the county so far this year. This past month, my only "critical misses" were Pine Grosbeak and Barred Owl, and to a lesser degree, Red-shouldered Hawk and Lapland Longspur.

The breakdown:

Code 1: 60 species

Code 2: 14 species

Code 3: 4 species

Code 4: 3 species

Code 5: 1 species

Although code 1 species are pretty much guaranteed, there were several that I saw that are usually quite rare in the winter. These species include Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Chipping Sparrow, and Common Yellowthroat. These winter abnormalities are always fun to come across.

Hermit Thrush

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Green-winged Teal

Code 2 species were well represented, and I managed to see pretty much all the expected January ones. Highlights included Cackling Geese, three species of owls (Snowy, screech, and Great Horned), all the gulls, and a wintering Fox Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow

Although numbers were low for the code 3 species, that is to be expected for January. Golden Eagle and Short-eared Owl, two uncommon overwintering species, were ticked off, as was Common Redpoll, a common species this winter. An unusual winter Red-breasted Merganser on the Thames River was also found.

Red-breasted Merganser

Code 4 species were made up entirely of irruptive finches. Although I had scored White-winged Crossbill early on January 1st, it wasn't until a couple weeks in I finally found a Hoary Redpoll, as well as some Red Crossbills, the first of that species to be seen in the county for over a month. The mega flight of finches is certainly being kind to us...only three more species of finches to go!

Red Crossbills

A singular code 5 was seen, a Harlequin Duck first seen on January 9th, and refound on the 12th. I believe this may be the 5th record of the species for Middlesex County, and the first in a few years. An excellent bird to start off the year!

One month down, eleven to go. Although the next month will probably be pretty slow going, it will soon pick up! I can't wait to see what else is waiting to be found.


  1. Fantastic start to your "Middlesex Biggish Year", Quinten! ❤

  2. Cold...I mean Cool Son. Nice start.