Sunday, 17 November 2013

Cley NWT and Holt Crossbills

I had an early start to be at Holt Country Park at first light to see if there were any Parrot Crossbills around the car park. Unfortunately, after waiting about an hour no crossbills appeared, so I headed down to Cley coastguards with the intention of looking again a bit later.
I met Eddie Myers at the coastguards and stood and seawatched with him for about 90 minutes. Eddie had had some good stuff go by, but by during my time the only decent 'seabirds' were some nice male Common Eiders and a few Red-thoated Divers. The best thing I saw was a very late hirundine, heading west over the coastguards car park. I was really hoping it was going to be something rare as it flew towards us along the shingle ridge, but alas it was just a rather cold-looking Barn Swallow.
There were a lot of Brent Geese coming and going in the Eye Field and just as I left I picked out the Black Brant on the pool next to the car park.

Black Brant, Cley Coastguards

Black Brant, Cley Coastguards

Black Brant, Cley Coastguards

I then headed off to have a look around Salthouse. There wasn't a whole load of stuff around - a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, giving a glimmer of hope of some migrants (which proved to be true with the appearance of a Red-breasted Fly back at Cley Coastguards later in the day). The pager then alerted me to at least one Parrot Crossbill back at Holt Lowes, so I head up there, to the clearing where I'd seen the Roller a few months earlier.

There was a flock of 12 crossbills showing quite closely. I had a good look through the flock and was quite confused why some people thought there was only one or two Parrot Crossbills and the rest were Common Crossbills. Every bird I looked at closely looked to be a Parrot Crossbill. I photographed 3 different birds (and these were just the ones that came and perched at the tops of the trees), which you can see are all Parrots. I'm sure I saw about 5 different birds referred to as *the* female!  Many of the people around me were a bit bewildered as to what was going on too and seemed convinced that there weren't any Common Crossbills in the flock. Even the behaviour of the birds showed they were Parrot Crossbills - feeding in Scots Pine by ripping off the cones and feeding on them.

Adult male Parrot Crossbill

Adult female Parrot Crossbill
Adult female Parrot Crossbill (same as above)

First-year male (?) Parrot Crossbill