|Red crossbill, Loxia curvirostra.|
I started off my enjoyment of the day by leaving my camera at home! I put my camera down on the dark countertop amidst the darkness of 5am while sorting through my bag, and, given the camera was also black, is how it ended up being left behind. A disaster, but at least Dan had his camera! As much as I like birding without the hefty lens I may have occasionally used it. So much for proving that I wasn't obsessed with the device.
The day started near Dry Gulch road, where we heard and saw red crossbills. While I was out of a camera (sort of) I did have my phone on hand. The crossbills were hard to hear through traffic and wind at times, but I was able to produce a clear enough sonogram to determine they were the western hemlock type, or 'type 3'. This is my first sighting of the bird in North America, where several different "types" are recognized. These types are only reliably distinguished by the shape of the sonogram. For type 3 the call sonogram is a sort of fuzzy zigzag.
|Rough sonogram of type 3 crossbills.|
|Dark-eyed junco, the grey-headed subspecies, Junco hyemalis ssp. caniceps.|
|Prairie falcon, Falco mexicanus.|
At Lake Casitas we had a frustrating encounter with a rather short-tailed brown bird in reeds, which was probably the continuing LeConte's sparrow, a real rarity in these parts and a difficult bird to see. This rare bird was first documented a while ago by other birders, but it had been a few days since it was last reported. Luckily I have seen two in Florida before during a mist net operation, but still a shame that we could not confirm it here!
This lake side habitat was unfortunately too dry for any interesting plant life, although I did see some western marsh cudweed. Truly a fascinating trip full of surprises...