For the past week there have been lots of Crossbills at Hemstead Forest including some Parrot Crossbills and Two Barred Crossbills, 2 species I have never seen before. With the day looking good today and some sunshine forecast I drove over to Derek Smiths house where we drove over to the site and after getting a little lost we arrived about 10.45am. There were a good deal of other birders there and as we got ready I could already hear the sound of Crossbills calling. It was only a few minutes walk until we joined a group of birders who were looking at some Common Crossbills and as luck would have it, as we watched the TWO BARRED CROSSBILL flew into the tree and showed nicely. I didn't expect to get any shots today and looking at my efforts I think I should have left it at home but I took a few very distant shots of this new Kent bird for me but you can make out what it is, just about!
Two Barred Crossbill (centre)
The flock soon moved on and showed again more distantly but in good light and the Two Barred Crossbill could be seen again briefly before moving out of sight. Feeling very pleased with this and only being on site for 5 minutes we thought we would have the job wrapped up in no time at all. How wrong we were for the next 3 hours were spent looking and checking every Crossbill in sight and searching Pine trees for the elusive Parrot Crossbills. After much tea drinking we joined a group of birders who had a good view of the area when some Common Crossbills flew into the Oak tree in front of us. They showed nicely and then another Crossbill arrived on its own. A quick scan of this one revealed a slightly larger Crossbill with a noticeably larger and deeper bill, to add to this a bull neck and we were watching our first PARROT CROSSBILL. Everyone got on to it and we noticed the features and I attempted a few more dodgy shots before the flock flew off, the Parrot Crossbill easily picked out in flight with its slightly larger size.
Wih the mission accomplished we started to make our way back when the flock took flight aain from the distant pines. As they passed over a single bird left the flock and landed on a lone pine on top. The scopes were soon on this bird which was probably the Parrot Crossbill we were watching a few minutes earlier. I left the group and attempted a few shots of this smart bird, again the heavy and deeper bill can be seen along with the bull neck.
With 2 new Kent ticks in the bag and some excellent company throughout the session we made our way back to the cars. Other birds noted today included c40 Common Crossbill, c50 Siskin and 2 Redpoll. Many thanks to Derek Smith for driving today, much appreciated.