Monday, 31 March 2014

Present but elusive Crossbills

Across Orlestone forest migrant Blackcaps have boldly arrived in numbers to join Chiffchaffs to build on a dawn chorus sound as yet chiefly the sound of our resident birds.

In Soapers Wood, still the most reliable wood for Crossbills, I saw very briefly 3 parties of Crossbills totaling 25-35 birds. One party left the and flew to neighbouring Faggs Wood an area I rarely get time to cover. The forest Crossbills remain mostly elusive, only portraying their presence when calling in flight and frustratingly vanishing into the canopy when they land.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Orlestone Crossbills for all to see

A beautiful sunny morning walk around Birchett Wood, with the sounds of early spring including Siskin, Bullfinch, Redpoll and Chiffchaff, was made all the more enjoyable by three differing parties of Crossbills. The Crossbills were all fly-over birds and travelling in different directions across the forest. With lingering rarer Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills still in the country, it would be nice for local birders to clinch either of these birds for the forest. Frustratingly my searches are on hold for now as I had to hobble out the forest after an hour with sciatica.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Common Crossbills in Orlestone forest

Above and below, male Common Crossbill, Birchett wood.

In the late summer of 2013, the UK had a cyclic arrival of nomadic Crossbills from Europe in search of their exclusive Pine seed food source. At last, I thought, something new to add some interest to our often birdless Pine plantations in Orlestone forest. However, despite the abundance of Pines throughout, a lot of luck was needed in the first half of winter to find any Crossbills. A 2 hour walk might just provide an occasional flyover of birds passing by - just about better than nothing! However, since the new year, I'm finding and hearing Crossbills on nearly every visit I make to Packing Wood, Soapers Wood and Birchett Wood, and importantly I've seen some evidence of nest building too.

So its reasonable to assume Crossbills are present in small numbers across the forest. The largest flock I've seen so far (on Monday) was a respectable 32 birds, and on this sighting the birds gave very good views, frequently flying down to a stream to drink and on several occasions the males sang from high in the pine canopy

All the woods continue to have little flocks of Siskins and Redpolls present, and in Birchett today there were also 6 Bullfinches present. The woods seem to have a very healthy population of Great Spotted woodpeckers and Nuthatches. The Nuthatches can be heard and seem as easily in the conifer palantations as in the Decidious woods and are noisily proclaiming from their territories at present.

Common Crossbill at Soapers wood, Orlestone forest.

Female Common Crossbill, Soapers wood, Orlestone forest.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

A Dutch Cormorant

We've just had a 4-day break in Holland. Time was split between Amsterdam, Museums, Traffic jams, and a swimming pool in a wintery 'Centre-parcs` camp. Not a true bird watching hour was spent.. ..but just once, there was a bold Cormorant on one of the parc's small duck ponds just as the sun came out - and here it is. It's more than I deserved!