Monday, 21 October 2013

Crossbills - Common, Parrot and Two-barred

A day of highs and lows. The birding was great but the photo opportunities were awful. We had travelled over to Hemsted Forest in Kent to see the reported Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills. They had been around for a few days but we hoped that by leaving it to a rainy Monday morning we would avoid being involved in a major twitch. We were partly successful, I would call it a mini-twitch, but the combination of people and poor weather did restrict the photography.

Driving over there in heavy rain we had assumed the worse and had decided that if we could come away with decent pictures of a Common Crossbill we would be happy. Given this expectation I guess we would have to say that the result, getting good views of all three varieties of Crossbill, was a great success. Unfortunately good views do not always lead to good photographs.

Parrot Crossbills - part of a group of six
Male Parrot Crossbill feeding Female

I would have loved to have got closer and to have taken some decent pictures. I don't think that the Crossbills would have minded. I have had them feeding within a few feet of me before and they did not seem bothered. I was more concerned about spooking the rest of the birders that were there observing. On balance though, with the birds at the top of a tall tree and with poor lighting conditions a good picture was unlikely so we settled for just observing.

The Two-barred Crossbill was reported as flying with a flock of Common Crossbills but there were a number of flocks flying in the area so he was difficult to pick up. He is actually in the flock of twelve shown below - the bird on the extreme left. He is more of a raspberry red than the Commons but I really wanted a sideways on shot to show the wing bars. He did oblige but I missed the shot and then had to spend the next hour trying to find him again.

Flock of Common Crossbills with the Two-barred on the extreme left

Eventually he showed up again, very distant but at least I got the shot confirming that he was a Two-barred.

Two-barred Crossbill - smaller than Commons with smaller bill and with the white wing bars showing well

Overall a great days birding. The sun was just coming out as we left and it reminded you of what could have been, but perhaps we will come back once things quieten down a bit.

Common Crossbills - still distant but the sun makes a difference

1 comment:

  1. Hi Martin. I work for Aden Production and we may be filming a welsh language wildlife series next spring for S4C. Im currently doing research into what are some of the best wildlife to film in Sussex, and was wondering if we could talk regarding crossbills, woodlarks, honey buzzards?
    you can send me your number to (not .com nor or feel free to give me a ring in the office on 02920 465600

    many thanks