Hi all, I journeyed up to Summerhill this morning. I spent the first hour and a half (7:00-8:30) walking up and down Salt Road and occasionally down Hoag Street with very little to show for it. Several COMMON RAVENS were around, as well as RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, and the other usual spruce birds. The best birds during this time were 5-10 flyover PINE SISKINS and 3-5 flyover PURPLE FINCHES. Finally, as I was considering giving up, I decided to walk down Hoag Street one more time. My luck changed abruptly as I was walking along the swampy area a few hundred meters west of Salt Road. I had found a large flock of PINE SISKINS (20-40 birds) here earlier, and as I was looking for them again, I heard two or three calls from a WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. I waited a while, then heard more and closer crossbills. I saw a decent sized flock (~25 birds) lift off from a hemlock on the north edge of the marshy area and land in a deciduous tree. This flock quickly disappeared, but a few birds split off from it and flew south over the road in front of me, at least three WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS that gave me good looks and a few pictures in flight. And I waited at this spot, I heard a single flyover RED CROSSBILL (could have been in the flock with the White-wingeds or a lone bird flying over, I couldn't tell) and more White-winged Crossbills, which turned out to be mixed in with an even larger siskin flock. I watched one flock of siskins (no crossbills with them at that point) foraging on hemlock cones, exhibiting behavior much like crossbills. When the big siskin/crossbill flock flew over again, I was unfortunately unable to assess the species ratio, and I suspect the original flock of ~25 that I had taken to be all crossbills was actually a mix, so I don't know how many were actually there, somewhere between 5 and 20.
While I was waiting for them to return again, an adult NORTHERN SHRIKE popped up in the tall spruces on the east edge of the swamp, then flew into that area, not to be seen again. Two FOX SPARROWS were also present with juncos in the underbrush. After that, I checked a few Dryden spots, including Dryden Lake (2 Bufflehead, 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Mergansers, 50 Ring-billed Gulls) and George Road (16 AMERICAN COOTS, lots of geese, not much else). After that I looked for Paul's NORTHERN SHRIKE and quickly found it in one of the hedgerows on the north side of Ellis Hollow Creek Road near the horse barns at the west end. I watched it for a long time, then came back an hour later and watched it some more. It was one of the most cooperative shrikes I have seen in a while. It switched perches quite often but was in view nearly all the time, a beautiful adult. I never saw it chase any other birds (although there were bluebirds, a mockingbird, and lots of House Sparrows and starlings around), but it dropped down into the field many times would came up with something, big arthropods of some kind. On my way home I stopped briefly at the Freese Road garden plots, which are now a plowed dirt field with 13 AMERICAN PIPITS foraging in it. Also, last night I had a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL give one squeal in response to whistling at Hammond Hill. Good birding, -Jay -- Jay McGowan Macaulay Library Cornell Lab of Ornithology jw...@cornell.edu -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --