Sunday, November 4, 2012

Birding Coldbrook Road-Crossbills are a Plenty!

I birded Colbrook Road today in Oakham and no sooner would I get out of my car I would hear the familiar overhead chatter that's been driving me out of my mind the past few days as I was convinced it was White-winged Crossbills, but really wanted to get a visual on the birds considering it would be a life bird for me.  The flock of about 18 would finally do me the honors and land for a decent binocular view as well as a couple of record shots.

Not the best photos in the world, but I'll take what I can get at this point and  was happy to know my ears were right as I'm harder on them than I am my eyes.

While it wold still be chilly outside, I was in the mood for some mindless walking so my goal was to get to the hawk watch site and back with a few side trails in between for more exploring

With a few stop in between including the spot above where I tried to call in a Northern Saw-whet Owl with my own lousy imitation considering my hands were bound in thick gloves so didn't want to fumble with my Droid.  Needless to say I'd get no Saw-whet or any other bird for that matter so it must have been pretty bad!

I'd continue along my way and would still hear the flocks of White-winged Crossbills flying by as well as the continuous chatter and yank calls of the Red-breasted Nuthatches (YAY).  In fact the nuthatches were so vocal that I could still here them as I drove home (kind of like when a song gets in your head and you can't get rid of it no matter how hard you try).

While walking toward the hawk watch site, I'd stop for a drink of water and look to some open land nearby and wonder if I should head that way to do some pishing for sparrows when my eye would go to the sky and I'd see something that appeared rather large and white headed my way and thought it was a plane at first the way the sun was reflecting on the white, but then realized that UFO was flying far too fast to be a plane.  I'd get my bins on it and see it was a large sized bird and the powerful wing beats and shape of the bird immediately ruled out gulls for me.  I'd then have my "aha" moment when my eyes would finally see the dark primaries and the goose like shape and be thrilled to see it was a lone Snow Goose hauling butt heading South.  The goose would be going so quick, so I fumbled with my camera for a record shot and realize turning on a camera with thick gloves takes precious seconds away from you and your picture but I'd try it anyway and finally get the bird before it flew into tree cover.

Going away but you can vaguely see the dark primaries.  I didn't crop or alter these photos at all but had them at full zoom so the bird looks fatter than it was but welcome to my world when it comes to pictures.  It would also be this area that I'd get an excellent look at a juvenile Northern Harrier but it too would fly off before the camera could even be turned on as always.

Birds would continue to be vocal including more of the ones I had before and a good sized flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets and this very handsome Red-bellied Woodpecker above.

A stop along the way in hopes for sparrows and wouldn't get much except some Dark-eyed Juncos, and White throats.  I'd also be happy to hear a bird that sounded very vireo like to me and remembered what Rodney said during his trip that Purple Finch's can sound like that sometimes so looked on the tops of trees and sure enough I'd spot one so it's nice to know that tidbit of info stuck with me vs. me looking all over the place for a vireo with a funny call. ;-)

And I'd finally make it to the hawk watch site and see Donna, Bart and Don (Dave wasn't there yet) on some birds so I of course try and see what direction their bins are so I can get it too as I would have been beside myself if it was a Golden Eagle and I missed out on it obviously. ;-).  No Golden Eagle, but they did get a nice flock of flying Brant overhead which is always nice!  I'd hang out there for almost an hour and see some migrating raptors with Red-tailed Hawks being most numerous, but they'd also have a migrating Osprey, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk and at least one Cooper's which isn't bad for November hawk watching!

I'd finally head back and hear a chip note nearby that would turn out to be a Chipping Sparrow (I also had one in my yard yesterday), so it appears as if they are still around, but not in numbers just two short weeks ago.

A new way to walk your dog.  Some guy would be in a pick up truck while the Husky followed!

One of many side trails I'd take.  It was nice to see the various wetlands often hidden by leaf cover in summer including the one above which had nothing on it.

One of two nests that appeared to be Great Blue Heron's nests in another wetland.

And finally a much needed break for chocolate and water near the favorite teenage drinking spot!

A fellow traveler of Coldbrook Road, this caterpillar above.  I'd be glad I had my eyes to the ground as I almost stepped on it.

And then I'd finally make it near the car and see a very colorful bird preening nearby which would turn out to be another White-winged Crossbill, but this one would be sitting still!

Giving me the "hairy eyeball".  I'd be looking at the bird, when suddenly a flock of White-winged's would come in and it wouldn't take long for me to hear what I thought was Red Crossbills too.  So naturally I look at the handsome male above and wonder what type it is as it appeared to calm for the WW.  I'd spend a considerable amount of time waiting for it to change position to get a look at its wings and after what seemed like forever it finally did and it was a WW.  One thing I found interesting when looking at the two photos above of the same bird is how long the tail looks in the 1st one vs. the 2nd and WW have longer tails than the Red's but my eyes never noticed it until I got home.

White-winged for sure I'm guessing!

Another lousy record shot but notice the longer tail and the white you can barely see near the tail which I thought was interesting.

And then I'd finally spot the Red Crossbills who'd be mixed in with the White-winged Crossbills to make it even more of a headache.

Another lousy photo but wanted it for a record shot of a female Red Crossbill.  The photo is horrible but you will see there's no white on those wings.  I'd be happy to ID both with my ears at first as they flew in considering I've been listening to both their calls the past week or so hoping it would stick in my brain and for now it has!

So all in all I'd get in close to 11 miles of walking and enjoyed every minute of it.  If you're looking for a place to bird for the Boreal's I HIGHLY recommend this area as it can be done by car too and the crossbills are everywhere so they shouldn't be hard to find.

Take care all

1 comment:

Larry said...

Looks like another nice day for you.


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