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.

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