What a morning! Parrot Crossbill and Two-Barred Crossbill. Kent Oct 2013.

Hemsted Forest. Kent.
 With the influx of Parrot Crossbills I just had to try and connect, and so with a forecast of sun and no wind I set off at 4am to pick my Dad up on the way. Our destination was Hemsted Forest in Kent, where there was also a Two-barred Crossbill present. We were the first to arrive and after a short wait for the light to improve we set off. Straight away we had Crossbills flying overhead. And it wasn't long before ourselves and another birder picked out a Parrot Crossbill to the east of the clearing. I then noticed a Crossbill near the track leading from the car parking area, after listening to recordings of Parrot and Two-barred the night before (cannot remember songs at all) we realised we were also looking at the Two-barred Crossbill, remarkably it took flight and landed next to the Parrot Crossbill!!! It was too far for a image against the rising sun but we had good scope views before they departed. All within the first hour....that doesn't normally happen.

 Moving along the tracks we encountered 2+ Parrot Crossbills and although they never came too close, we could still make out that enormous bill. It then turned out to be a sit and wait job, as the groups of crossbills roamed around the forest.

 As a large group of crossbills landed in a nearby oak tree, we all scanned but could not pick out any Parrot's, but they then decided to land in a small plantation along the track and so I quickly headed off to get at least a couple of record shots for the blog. As I was taking some images I then realised that the Two-Barred Crossbill was in the group!! I managed to get off a couple of shots before the flock took flight back into the north eastern corner, taking with it the Two-Barred. Wow what a lovely morning, a new species and a Two-Barred also, and with the glorious weather came a lot of birders, no doubt all of them connecting with one if not both birds...if only all birding trips ended successfully. 

No show for the Great Grey Shrike. Sandy RSPB. Oct 23rd 2013.

 With a couple of hours to spare, whilst Sarah was at work at The Lodge, I tried for the Great Grey Shrike. Luck was not to be on my side, the winds had increased and it looked like rain. If the shrike was still here it would no doubt be keeping low, still I took a look. Sadly to no avail there was no sign, and every birder asked declared the same "no sign". I did manage to see a Raven briefly and as I walked around the reserve the skies darkened and it threw it down, I got somewhat soaked! I decided to sit it out till Sarah finished work and the only addition was a distant Peregrine being mobbed by a Kestrel. I noticed around me that there were quite a few Stinkhorn fungi, cant say Ive seen that many before and I definitely noticed the smell in the area. 

Holkham. "A Quiet Norfolk" October 2013.

 Sarah and I spent a few days up in Norfolk, during the first week of October. Over the course of two days we drove along the coastline but decided to stick to Holkham, as apart from it being very quiet everywhere, the chance of seeing a Yellow Browed Warbler proved to be the deciding factor. On the first day we walked along to the crosstracks beyond the Meals House, and as Sarah asked me to remind her what the Yellow Browed Warbler sounded like, it called from the tree next to us, on cue or what!. It unfortunately did not show and departed without the chance of good views. The same happened later that day as I once again heard it call only to see it silhouetted in the same tree as before before moving off with the tit flock. Annoyingly I didn't get a record shot of the warbler but I did connect with 2 Firecrest's which stopped for a second to have a mug shot taken!
There were a couple of Chiffchaff''s present with the tit flock, which included a Treecreeper ganging up with them and the report of a Rough legged Buzzard from the Tower hide also went amiss, but as every birder I spoke too whilst out...."it's very quiet, I've never seen it this quiet before" I had to agree, but we all said that once we had all returned home from our holiday there, that good stuff was bound to come in!!
That's birding for you.

Increased numbers causes aggro. DWE. September 2013.

 Monday 30th September, I took a walk around the lake, DWE. There seemed to be more birds around today, with a few Grey Herons, including younger birds. 

 Duck numbers appeared to be on the up, with more Shoveler present alongside Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Tufted ducks. There was a flock of Linnets flitting from place to place, but apart from that the songbirds seemed to be somewhere else.

 Raptor wise, along with Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, a pair of Hobby were dragonfly catching along the river, slowly moving their way towards Sandy.

 Common Snipe numbers were definitely increasing, a couple of them feeding out in the open for a change.

 I saw 5 Little Egrets around the main lake, with 4 present on the island, which didn't take long to get quarrelsome. The last bird to land on the island seemed to be the dominant one and soon had 2 of them heading to the rear side of the island. That in turn brought them too close to each other and they then started to fight, launching themselves at each other with their long legs and dagger like bill finishing the move. After a few minutes it calmed down as they found their own little bit of space.