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,
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 McGowan
Macaulay Library
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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