Saturday, 26 October 2013

Perseverance Rewards!

Having spent the whole day last Saturday at Hemsted Forest looking unsuccessfully for both Two-barred and Parrot Crossbill, we found ourselves here again. Much better feel to the morning immediately, it was initially brighter than last week though this was soon to change, as the weather eventually deteriorated, though not quite to the point of rain. There also appeared to be more activity generally: Common Crossbills, Siskins, Redpolls, Redwings and Fieldfare (we had seen all these species last week, though not so well nor in such good numbers).

It was not long before the Two-barred Crossbill presented itself, feeding with a fairly mobile flock of c30+ Common Crossbills. The flock would move off and then return and the Two-barred would give itself up again quite easily being so distinctive. Eventually a quite sizeable flock of Crossbills were located towards the entrance and everyone moved towards them. As Brenda and I gathered our bags and belongings to do likewise, a calling individual flew over us with two other birds, that somehow sounded different to the Common Crossbills we'd become accustomed to. We watched and followed the single individual that also struck me as quite bulky looking until it settled (completely losing the other two individuals that had been with it initially). As soon as the bird was perched in a pine away from any other birds, through the scope it was clear that we were onto a single male Parrot Crossbill with an obvious bulk to the neck, minimal forehead, a surprisingly deep and powerful looking bill, appearing effectively to have a hooked upper-mandible and no sign of a crossed lower-mandible. We managed to get one other birder standing nearby onto the bird before it dropped down and out of sight, though speaking with some other birders soon after it appears that some others had managed to get onto the bird too.

We tried to get close enough to relocate and photograph, but were unsuccessful on both counts. Further visits to this site over the coming winter months are looking likely as it may prove a good opportunity to gain some useful experience and images of this very variable family of birds!

Below are some record shots of Two-barred and Common Crossbill taken today:

Two-barred Crossbill

Two-barred Crossbill

Common (left) and Two-barred Crossbill

Two-barred Crossbill

1 comment:

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Interesting post about great birds. I enjoyed it.