Red Crossbill at Mt. Ord, May 18, 2017

I went back to Mt. Ord, and this time I saw the Red Crossbill (Dave and I went on May 3 and didn’t see them).

Fr. Charlie and I left on Thursday, May 18, at about 8 AM. When we got to the Mt. Ord turn-off, Mary Ann texted me that I left my camera flash on the kitchen counter. Yargh! I really miss having the flash and the Better Beamer flash extender (aka fresnel lens). The main problem is that I have to increase the sensitivity to light of the camera sensor (i.e. the ISO setting) in order to get good exposures. This causes graininess in the pictures. You can’t see it much on the small pictures on the web, but it is obvious when I blow up the picture, and, for example, the graininess makes them not good enough to enter in the Arizona Highways photo contest. I can reduce the graininess (aka noise reduction) on the computer, but it comes at the expense of losing details in the pictures, such as feathers, eye rings, etc. Also, the flash makes getting a good exposure easier and less error prone. I can set exposure settings (i.e. aperture/ISO/shutter speed) to whatever I want, and the flash automatically adjusts the light level for a good exposure. Without the flash I under exposed some shots that otherwise would have come out nice.

Oh well, I did the best I could without the flash. There are some advantages to no flash, e.g. no red-eye, and no worry that the flash will scare the birds.

We went to the same spot where we saw the Grace’s Warbler last time, and instead saw the Red Crossbill. I’ve been wanting to photograph the Red Crossbill for a long time, so I was happy to see them (I just wish I would have had the flash). Dave will be jealous 🙂¬†(we didn’t see them last time he and I went to Mt. Ord).¬†There were about 4 of them, and they were drinking from the small creek. As you can see from the pictures, the upper and lower mandibles of the bill cross over each other. This is used by the bird to pry open pine cones to get at the nuts inside.

We also saw the Grace’s Warbler and Black-throated Gray Warbler at the same spot. The Painted Redstart was further down the road (Forest Road 1688). It was moving quickly through the area and flitting about in the trees, so I couldn’t get a good shot of it, but I included one anyway.

On the way home we drove up to Barnhardt’s Trailhead. The road to the trailhead is north of the Mt. Ord turn off, just south of the town of Rye. We didn’t plan on hiking the trail, but wanted to check out the area. Some people at the trailhead said that the waterfalls are about three miles down the trail. We’ll have to go back and do the hike sometime.

On the way back down the desert road to the highway I got a flat! We fixed it, and had to go back home at 50 mph (since I have a small size spare), with cars zipping by us the whole way.

I usually publish only one or two of each species, but I made an exception this time for the crossbills, since they were the stars of the show.


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  1. Aaron
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 5:17 pm | Permalink


  2. Mary Jill
    Posted May 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    ALL beautiful!!
    I liked the female with the blue bill.
    Also the Painted Redstart.

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