Seriously, nine days between posts..... ouch!
Anyway, here's a report on what I've been up to.
Feb 3rd (last Tues) I went on a fruitless search for White-winged Crossbills in Crawford County. Crawford is the county just to the west of Richland. It is certainly not known for Spruce stands. I was able to find only a few stands of White Spruce. No Crossbills though.
I did see some pretty cool birds. Down in Soldier's Grove, I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting in a tree in someone's back yard.
Driving south along the Kickapoo River, a Northern Shrike flew across the road in front of me and landed in a tree not too far off. I managed to squeeze off a couple photos before it flew. I still haven't been able to get a really decent shot of a Shrike. Northern or otherwise.
A Bald Eagle completed the day. It was rather dark though so my photo didn't come out as well as I would have liked.
Jump ahead a day. I scoured the southern part of Crawford County for Crossbills. Again with no luck. They have yet to be reported from that county. The WSO is trying to go for a full state invasion year so they need Crossbills reported from all 72 counties in WI. They have 14 to go.
Anyway, I somehow made it all the way to Prairie Du Chien where I found a pair of Wood Ducks in with all the Mallards.
I somehow missed the Black Ducks that I was later told were hanging around there too. I also found another Bald Eagle feasting on a carcass. It was probably a 3 year old bird. Not quite a full adult yet.
Fast forward to Feb 6th. I was watching the 30+ Common Redpolls (no Hoary yet) at my feeder when a Sharp-shinned Hawk blew through. He paused only long enough to have his portrait taken before he took off for better hunting grounds.
Jump ahead to Feb 10th. Yesterday. I took advantage of the 55 degree, sunny weather and ran an 11 hour, 250 mile birding marathon triangle from Richland Center to Prairie Du Chien to La Crosse and back.
I started out at Wyalusing State park where I spent less than 15 minutes between entering the park and leaving it. It was way too windy for passerines and the river was still pretty frozen.
The road to the boat landing did have a mixed flock of Robins and Cedar Waxwings though.
The boat landing had only ice fishermen.
Then I headed south to Bagley where I picked up my only White-winged Crossbill of the day.
A Backwards loop through Patch Grove proved futile except for a flock of Snow Buntings and some Horned Larks.
Stopping at the Villa Louis again, I quickly picked out 3 Wood Ducks among all the Mallards and then took the time to find the Black Duck too. Out by the bridge, I picked up Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser and Canada Goose.
Over at Dennis Kirschbaum's house, I picked up a flock of Common Redpolls and was attempting to find a Hoary when a Sharp-shinned Hawk breezed through at flushed everything.
Figuring it was pointless to stay, I headed North. Mostly ice-covered river, a few Gadwall, 200 Bald Eagles and not a single Crossbill later, I arrived at Goose Island in La Crosse. All the water was frozen though and it was pretty pointless to stay. I turned North again and headed up to French Island to check out another Hoary Redpoll (thanks for the directions Dan). Finding the feeders devoid of birds, I cruised around in search of the flock. No go. They were gone. Since it was getting pretty late, I headed home.
On County ZZ, about 5 mins from home, I spotted my 3rd species of Owl for the year sitting on a snag, silhouetted against the quickly darkening sky.
I don't think I have any need to tell you what species it is. The photo says it all.