Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crossbills in T-town

Sunday.  No work.  No desire to stay home.  No desire to do projects that need attention.  

Sounds like a great day to go birding!

Over the last few months, Natalie and I have developed a little "route", if you will.  From my place, we head to Elizabeth Park, up through Trenton over to Grosse Ile and then down to either Lake Erie Metropark or the Pointe Mouillee State Game area.  It works well and takes most of the day.  With stops that include Westcroft Gardens, its good 'ole bird fun!

Cool birds?  Well, the immature Red-shouldered Hawk  on Grosse Ile on Hickory Island was nice. Jim the Mockingbird was at the Pine Fresh Car Wash.  Again. The Hooded Merganser feeding at the corn pile with the Mallards at Elizabeth Park  was certainly unexpected. 

But, without a doubt, the coolest bird of the day...wait, the coolest birds of the day... had to be the White-winged Crossbills

Bloomdale Cemetery.  I've mentioned it before. One of these days, we are going to find a Saw-whet Owl in there.  Well, not today, but the Crossbills were a nice consolation prize!

Natalie and I had split up to cover the cemetery in a more timely manner. I was near the front of the place while she stayed towards the back.  After a few minutes, over the din of traffic, I realized she was yelling for me.  Within a few moments, I had done a sprint across the property.  (I figure 95 yards in 3.54 seconds carrying a 74-pound camera.  Suck on that, Denard Robinson.)  I was just in time to see 20 White-winged Crossbills fly away. Isn't that how it always works?

As they flew west, we figured, briefly, they were long gone. Ahhhh, but a few hundred yards up the road?...more conifers.  

Leaving the cemetery, we shot up King Road and pulled over into a service drive and spent a good 15 minutes enjoying the show at point-blank range.  We were so close, and they we so loud, we could easily hear the crunching of the seeds as they plied them open with that goofy crossed bill.  How awesome.

Frustratingly, the cones were all high in the tree so they were never any lower than 10 feet or so. But, we managed.  The above photo was taken from the service drive.

So, this is getting pretty peculiar.  A swarm of White-winged Crossbills in February. In Trenton.  On New Years Day, we had a Snow Goose flying over Fort Street.   In Trenton.  That is two super birds in two months. In Trenton.

Hmmm...I wonder what T-Town will bring us in March?

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