Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Finches That Stole Away to Visit us!

Crossbills!!  Who doesn't pine for crossbills? Unfortunately for them, the pine crop was not suitable and they hit Kingbird Region 10 hard! Reports started showing up for White-winged Crossbills here and there, and then finally Red Crossbills started being reported as well.

Some of the first reports of reliable flocks were taking place at Hecksher STPK. Sunday morning 11-18 on the way to take care of some errands, Bob called to inquire about going out and seeing these beasts. We agreed to touch base later in the day.

After completing our tasks, a quick check of the 'internet tubes' revealed that both crossbills were currently being seen at Jones Beach west end 2. A quick call to Bob and plans were changed to facilitate a much shorter trip.

Jean and I arrived ahead of Bob and viewed the birds at the Coast Guard station. Impressive numbers of Oystercatchers were present, but we learned that the birds we sought were actually at the west end 2 median turnaround pines. This info was gathered from Ian and Donna, who were concluding a QCBC trip with Lou, that was lack luster so they came here and had a brilliant finish with both x-bills.

Jean and I moved to the other location and told Bob to meet us there. We ran into Lloyd S. and David S. { but different S's} who repeated what everyone else had been saying: the birds were repeatedly returning to the same pines; wait a bit and they'll return....

Bob eventually arrived with Lisa L. momentarily delayed by looking for the car I was not in. We all took off to the median, and did not see any birds. After a while I suggested that we head towards the Coast Guard station and look for them, and along the way we had Harrier and at least two Coopers Hawks that were probably as good an excuse as to why the birds were scarce as any.

Being with three people of limited bladderial ability, we headed back to W/E 2 in hopes that the restrooms were open. A short perusal of the swale and I was itching to get back to the median. Bob, who had lagged behind, called me to let me know that a few crossbills had landed in the trees right in front of him; pretty much where we parked our cars!

We went over, but our arrival made the birds depart. no matter, we walked back into the median and to the other side where I spied a flock of birds at the top of some denuded deciduous trees. Crossbills!

When we got closer, we were able to discern mostly White-winged, and then a flock of Reds. A few birders commented that this was the first time that they had seen a mixed flock like this, and to me it was a delight.

Other prevalent birds were Red-hatch, and Goldfinch. We followed the flocks around for some time, and were able to be quite close at times. And then moving with but stopping alone, and at the top of a nearby pine, perched a Common Redpoll! In my excitement I tried to get the other three on the bird, and succeeded! The bird's patience had been tested though; and while everyone got a great look, i could not swing my camera up in time to get off a shot. Oh well, everyone saw it and Bob and Lisa scored a lifer! And for Bob that was lifer three for the day, in addition to the two crossbills.

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