Thursday, January 1, 2009

Year of the Crossbill!

A happy new year to all.  In the past (as many birders probably do), I've termed (at least before I find a good bird that I actually remember) the first bird I see in a year (or the first one I see with Ginger) as the bird of the year.  However, after probably 7 of the last 8 years have been either the year of the junco, screech owl, or goldfinch it seems that this is a tradition that's about worn itself out (not that I remember what I coined the year for more than a week or so).  Today I spent a couple hours looking through about 1000 ducks at various points on Lake Michigan, finding all 3 scoters, redhead, and long-tailed duck, but no big ticket items.  I also walked a subdivision that in the past has produced crossbills, when what should fly past the window when I get home but a bright pink bird with black wings and bright wingbars.  It didn't have to land for a sure ID, but land it did, right on the porch rail:

It's a crappy pic, but shows the ID at any rate.  Hannah had the opportunity to learn a "new" phrase when it appeared (she also heard it as the frigatebird approached during the summer), but I think that at 18 months she didn't quite pick up on it fortunately (though she repeats an awful lot of single words).

Thanks to a new feeder from my sister-in-law with a nice squirrel baffle and Allen Chartier's on-line pic of using slinkies as squirrel baffles on the shepherds crook feeder stands (pic below), I've been able to considerably expand my feeders and feed more than just fox squirrels, gray squirrels, and raccoons.  The crossbill was the first big pay-off, and appeared within days!  (I'm anticipating a green-tailed towhee any day now...)

I haven't quite figured out my goals for the year.  In 2005 I did a Washtenaw big year, in 2006 I moved so didn't do any real listing, in 2007 I was learning Berrien and coat-tailed behind Tim to a pretty good number for the year though didn't approach it as a Big Year.  Last year I did a Bigby year on the bike (which I will NOT repeat any time soon).  At some point I'd like to significantly improve my Berrien township lists, but I don' t think that will be a major goal.  I think I'm going to wait until both girls are in some degree of school to really go after a Big Year in Berrien when there'll be more time to work to find all the uncommon but regular stuff (like glassing field after brushy field for shrikes today instead of looking for rarities in the duck flocks).  It'd be nice to find something chase-able, the 3 review birds I've located in my first 2 1/2 years here have been 5 minute wonders on the beaches.  Eventually I'm going to break down and acquire a nice SLR and go back to focusing more on photography than listing.  Anyway, I have 27 birds for the Berrien year I'm "not" really working on...

No comments: