Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Crossbill central in Shropshire! Parrot, Two-bar and Common!

As many of you may know, one of my favourite stalking haunts this winter has been in the outlying woods in the Wyre Forest, most of them being on the Shropshire side.

As well a currently surveying Birds of Prey populations in the area, i have also been rooting through the many flocks of Crossbill, of which there have been plenty, and the woods around Postemplain in particular were holding large numbers. It was with this in mind i visited during the morning to try and locate the long staying TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS which are present, and it didn't take long to hear them calling in the distance. Saying that though, i didn't see them for a further 3 hours following this as i became somewhat distracted...

Anyone who follows any sort of bird alert network would be aware of the fact that 3 Crossbill species are present in our landlocked nation this winter, with abnormally high numbers of Two-Barred, Parrot and to a lesser extent Common Crossbills. And like many this winter, i have been out searching the pine and larch woods in search of any of these gems.

And it turns out i was about to hit the jackpot.

Having worked through the main flock of Common Crossbills, i came across a small 'splinter' flock of 10 birds feeding high up in a pine tree.  Raising my bins and then WHAM! "Look at the bill on this bird!"

On one of the lower branches of the tree, away from the other 9 Common Crossbills stood a huge, beefy looking bird that had got a pine cone pinned to the branch with its foot.

After further looking at the bird through the scope, it became obvious that the heavy bill was not just an illusion due to the angle! It really did have a huge bulbous bull! Both the upper and lower mandible were much larger than the Commons, and as it moved about, it became clear the the bird was also much bigger, both in size and overall proportions. A heavy neck led onto a large head, which was rather 'flat topped' and square.

Was this my prize for searching through the Crossbills this winter?. Had i finally found a PARROT CROSSBILL!

Further observation only made me more confident, it just seemed to match everything i would expect a Parrot to look like, so with that in mind i passed on the news that a probable Parrot Crossbill was showing around Postemplain, and tweeted a picture from the back of the camera, and soon after the responses started to flood in and all said it was a Parrot!
After about 30 minutes, the bird took flight with its Common companions, and despite staying around for much of the remainder of the day, i couldn't re-find it.

While searching however, one of the male TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL landed on a larch not too far away, and i had cracking views as it perched up, calling its head off and flashing those giant white wing bars!

With the day coming to a close, and many of the Crossbills having disappeared, it only took a call from Jason K saying that he had just relocated the flock of CORN BUNTING at Shenstone to get me moving.

A short while after, and i was enjoying 3 of these refined beauties as they sang in the evening sun! Absolute bliss, and a great way to finish the day!


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