11/21/08 - Crosby Farm & Lake Vadnais (1 Viewer)

An Arctic high moved in and this morning dawned crystal clear and 10F. The air was still, so it was quite nice outside - a wonderfully seasonal morning.

I decided against any big trips North, since I'm still fairly sick. The first place I went was my usual favorite, Crosby Farm park in St. Paul. The sparrows, wrens, kinglets and warblers I followed on my October trip have all moved on. The ponds have frozen over, so the ducks, geese and herons are gone too. The otters and muskrats were hiding. Woodpeckers and bark pickers are Crosby's main winter residents. I saw most of the common ones in my two hour visit, along with the usual assortment of town birds such as crows, cardinals, robins, chickadees and juncos. I came primarily to check the coniferous part of the forest for winter migrants. I didn't see what I was hoping for in the seed-laden conifers, but since Crosby never disappoints I got a new treat instead - my first American Tree Sparrows! They were mixed with the juncos foraging on the bank of the Mississippi. Once my fingers were thoroughly frozen I headed out.

I didn't have enough time left for a big afternoon trip, so I headed for another local favorite - Lake Vadnais. There were large flotillas of waterfowl, lead by a few trumpeter swans. I'll have to pick thru the photos of the flotillas tonight to see what was there. The pine forests were much more quiet now that the sparrows, kinglets and warblers have moved on. Chickadees, blue jays, woodpeckers and both colors of nuthatches now owned the place. I got my second new non-water bird of the day when I happened upon a pair of pine siskins! They were as fearless as their reputation suggests, posing for hundreds of photos (in terrible light) until my card was full and my fingers were totally frozen.

So far my trip is steadily productive, with three new winter species in just two days that I had failed to find the last two winters. (Common redpoll, pine siskin and American tree sparrow.) Still looking for snow buntings, crossbills, grosbeaks and other winter finches. If I happen to go back to Duluth I may also have a chance at some boreal woodpeckers. My next destination should be Sherburne NWR in central Minnesota, where crossbills were sighted earlier in the month.

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