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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Two- barred Crossbill at Lynford Arboretum on the 2nd attempt

Being offered an early 7.10am lift on Saturday 30th November, with John H and Ian M on board, we met Andrew H at the car park at Lynford and walked along to the Larch area. The weather contrary to the forecast was dull and overcast with frequent "mistly" rain. At the Larch viewing area, the big wooden gate behind us was open behind us revealing a muddy track extending to the large house at the end. 2 Crossbills flew over calling and perched in the top of the tree, I also spotted a Hawfinch joining them and I yelled out Hawfinch! and we were able to ID as a female. This was the start of a real purple patch here that would last all morning! A few minutes later, a group of around 10 Crossbills flew over and settled in the bush, one flew looked a little different and sure enough it proved to be the male Two- barred Crossbill. It flew into the top left of the tree, the white wing bars could be seen in flight. Typically, a bird more pinky red rather than the brick red of Crossbill plumage colour with 2 white obvious wing bars and longer narrower bill than Crossbill. It flew to the left and then flew to the top of a tree in full view further away where it was seen well at the top. A stunning bird and my first in 20 years! Eventually the group of 11 Crossbills flew off calling "chip chip" as they went. It was then the turn of a female Hawfinch to fly in to the tree, more subdued plumage than the male. A Treecreeper was seen crawling up a tee nearby. A Mistle Thrush then flew to the top of the tree. At the feeding area, a Nuthatch seen perched on a curled branch briefly before flying off left. A walk to the usual Hawfinch area for once failed to reveal any. But walking around the Arboretum, 9 Hawfinches flew out of the top a tree and 3 came back and fed from the very top of a tree, feeding on the buds. Looking over to the garden of a large house, 3 Hawfinches seen at the top of a tree and later 10 Redwings seen at the top too. Walking down to the lake, was an inspired decision as half way down at the left t junction of forest tracks, 3 Crossbills sp flew in and one showed white barring. The other 2 were Crossbills but the third, as I raised my bins and sure enough it the very top of that tree, the fine male Two- barred Crossbill could be seen again. The more pinky red plumage noted, the white wing bars (not as thick as on a full adult but substantial nonetheless and significantly, we noticed on this closer view the diagnostic thin white edgings to most of the tertials (these can become abraded in worn plumage) also the the slimmer longer bill noted again. After a minute or two it flew to the right hand tree where it also stayed for a minutes before it flew left with the 2 Common Crossbills. At the Lake we saw 3 Gadwall and a Common Teal. Finally, the icing on the cake, at the car park, we just initially missed a Fircest but half an hour later, I heard the distinctive more scratchy call and it flew back into the holly where I saw the Firecrest for a split second before it flew left (into a still group of beech leaves) showing the more olive green plumage with bronze shoulders and distinctive dark eye stripe and supercilia. It was not seen again, but this sighting had re-inforced my earlier view that this was my most successful visit ever to Lynford Arboretum, I look forward to a repeat visit soon!

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