5 March 2008
Another morning with the Crossbills
2 weeks ago I got up early to watch live Champions League games and left the house early and was rewarded with some nice photo opps with this year's Crossbills. Today I did exactly the same thing (I got up and flicked between the second halves of the Man U and Arsenal games) and headed out before breakfast time to be rearded with lots and lots of Crossbills. There were over 100 of them in Goryokaku Park.
At first they were high up in the large evergreens in the centre of the park (which as you may recall is a huge construction project building a useless eyesore to provide unnecessary jobs for rude chainsmoking middle-aged men but I digress). The construction workers hadn't clocked on yet so I basically had the park to myself. The ground was frozen and it sounded like it was raining but it wasn't. The noise was dozens of pinecones dropping from the canopy after the Crossbills had extracted all the seeds. Luckily some of them came down lower allowing some photo opps. The usual problems here.............I overespose for birds against a dull sky and then they fly down and of course the lighting is different but I'm too careless and forget to change the settings. Anyway.
Crossbills have been common the last couple of weeks. The last big invasion was 5 years ago. Unlike northern Europe there's only 1 species here, the Common Crossbill. The vagrant White Winged Crossbill may occur, some of the males today had pale wing bars but it was difficult to get a decent look with all the to-ing and fro-ing. I think they were just worn feathers on 1st year Common Crossbills.........either way I didn't photograph any of those individuals.
As the ground was still frozen they had to eat snow for their breakfast beverage.
The crossed mandibles are interesting to look at but maybe incoveninet as stuff can get stuck in there.
I cleared out shortly after as hordes of Taiwanese tourists descended on the park. Plus the construction workers getting ready for a hard day's smoking, tea-drinking and chatting on cellphones at the taxpayer's expense.
Lots of Hawfinches in the park as well as smaller flocks of Brambling and Redpoll. Here are pics of 2 of the common winter species here. A male Daurian Redstart (I still haven't gotten a decent shot of one of these yet) and a Dusky Thrush.
I had a look down the river later on but not much down there (except more Redpolls) and as grey skies close in around lunchtime I headed home and took a well deserved nap. I'd been up since before dawn after all.
So maybe 4 Premier League teams in the last 8 of the Champion's League. That's if Liverpool don't f**k up next week. They'd better beat West Ham tonight too.......