Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Both Crossbills, More Waterfowl, January 5

On days when I am not birding, I  am gathering information regarding a pension, medicare and social security submissions.  Not a happy task!

Today I went to Spring Grove Cemetery to try to find White-winged and Red Crossbills, which are winter specialties, and this year is an invasion year.  There are conifers, particularly hemlocks that the crossbills are feeding on.  These have been reported on, the local bird reports website.  My hearing is still quite good considering that I am chronologically more gifted, so I walked around and listened and looked in the best area where the birds were reported.   First found Red-breasted Nuthatch (RBNU).  This winter is an invasion year for this species.  I saw a bird fly down to the ground, and thought it might be finch or sparrow, but was surprised that it was a RBNU and that I could approach within at least 10 feet.  Then I heard a Pine Siskin flying around making its distinctive call.  An over-wintering immature Sharp-shinned Hawk was keeping the birds stirred up and wary as it tried for breakfast or brunch.  I met several other birders in the quest, Bill Hull and Bill Doss.  Finally, I heard the call of a Red Crossbill on the back side of a section near 51.  I found a Red Crossbill male and several White-winged Crossbills in the same hemlock.  This must be one of the small billed races of Red Crossbill due to the small size of the hemlock cones.  During this quest, I also found White-breasted Nuthatch. 

In the early afternoon I left Spring Grove Cemetery to meet another Hamilton County Volunteer In the Park (VIP) at Fernald Preserve to transfer my key to open the Sharon Woods Visitor Center for Cincinnati Bird Club meetings.  I can not guarantee that I will be available this year.  Task completed, and there was a good array of wintering waterfowl, including Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Black Duck and Northern Pintail.  In addition, there were an American Kestrel and 6 Wilson's Snipe.  Met Allan Claybon at Fernald.

I continued to Lost Bridge near Elizabethtown and found one lone Canvasback in the gravel pit.  This was the first full day of birding this year.  The total at the end of the day is 62 species.

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