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11/22/08 - Sherburne NWR and Lake Vadnais

Posted Saturday 22nd November 2008 at 22:21 by bkrownd
Following a lead from the MNBIRD mailing list, I went to Sherburne NWR on a quest for the seemingly mythical crossbill finch. A creature of rumor from the depths of the most arcane field guides, accompanied by renderings of fantastical beasts with twisted beaks and devilish visages. After patiently scanning the tops of the conifers for a half hour, I suddenly heard an unfamiliar ruckus approaching. And behold! A flock of about 20 finchy devils burst over the edge of the forest canopy with a fearsome chatter, and some even alighted in the very tree before me! Nessie? Bah! Yeti? A mere fuzzball! Dragons? All hot air! No, THIS was a magnificent and grotesque beast to strike fear into the bravest of pine cones! Yes, crossbills DO exist!

My camera nearly exploded from my furious attempts to get photos of them up in the treetops, against a bright overcast sky. A couple of other people happened along, apparently also drawn by the legend of the devil-finch. The little devils patiently soaked up our admiration, munching on conifer seeds while posing for photos. Eventually one would get a bee in its bonnet, and the whole flock would swirl around the treetops with a terrible chatter, with me chasing behind. So it went...

With such unexpectedly rapid success my ambition for the rest of the day's activities was dampened. I decided to check Lake Vadnais again, where I saw pine siskins yesterday. It was much more quiet, despite a 10 degree rise in temperature overnight. I saw no siskins, but everything else was much the same, in lesser numbers. The edges of the lake had frozen yesterday, and the broken sheets of ice clanged together in the waves like bells.
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