February 1, 2012
LIfer! White-winged Crossbills
On Monday January 30th, a short stroll in Lambton Woods, had me standing along a path for a moment trying to take a photo of a White-breasted Nuthatch... which I got as you can see below.
And moments later in flew a flock of 20+ birds very near me. They were incredibly noisy and very active (the ones on the ground anyways). And in a moment I knew they had to be Crossbills.
Angie and I have wanted to see these rare (to us), sporadic winter visitors for a few years now. And a week earlier we ventured to a spot where they were reported 18 hours earlier. Something we tried a few winters back as well but always seemed to be just behind these birds and missing them.
So, with so many "near sightings", I envisioned it in my head how it would be the day I finally see this species. And indeed it played out just like that...
The birds flew in to whatever area I was in and they would pretty much raid it for their food source of seeds within the cones of coniferous trees. Their beak is designed just for that cracking of the cones.
Unfortunately my first sighting had them fly into a spot where many people feed the winter residents of Lambton. Of the say 20 birds, about 12 stayed at the top of the trees (which weren't coniferous) while the other 8 scrounged about the ground kind of like scouts. I had maybe 2 minutes of viewing the birds before they all flew off together north/west in search of food.
If there had been something there for them, I recon all of them would have had at it, and I would have had a much longer viewing of them.
I had my camera with me but didn't even try to take a photo until the last few seconds. For a lifer, I need to see the bird with my own eyes and absorb this into my brain. Trying to get a shot right away would surely kill that "lifer" moment. I have to admit there was a voice in the back of my head saying this a few times "take a picture dumb-dumb". But I just couldn't. And in the final seconds with them, the brush was far too busy for the lens and the lighting was lacking. So no photos for me but the pictures in my head are pretty cool anyways.
Lifers are freaking awesome! I only wish Angie was there with me for this. Hopefully we have another sighting of them before the winter comes to an end, and they are in a spot with a good food supply so we have more than a couple minutes with the birds.
I borrowed the Crossbill image from the internet in a Google search...