With all the cracking photos online recently of the two barred crossbills and the fact I had dipped on it earlier in the winter, I decided to take a trip over to the Brecks for a birthday outing.
Dave was up for a trip out so he picked me up early and we were at Lynford by 07:30. Conditions on the journey were not very promising with heavy rain but by the time we had got there it had cleared up.
Things go off to a good start as we picked up a couple of singing firecrests before we had got all of our gear out of the car. One of them showed well moving about the birches singing. We walked up to the walled garden to find that the large wooden gates that had been allowing the drinking pools to be viewed were closed. We looked through the gaps but no birds were about so we went in search of them.
A group of 40+ crossbills flew over us and appeared to land in the tall trees close to us. We only managed to locate a small part of the group but that amazingly contained a male two barred crossbill! The birds were pretty flighty and soon moved off into some pines. Not sure how many crossbills there have been at the site recently but its is the largest numbers I have seen for a while. At least 70 birds were feeding the tree tops but they were too difficult to see and check through. 3 singing bramblings were also in the trees close by.
We lucked in too at the paddocks. We hadn't been there long when we heard 'tick tick' and 5 hawfinches flew in over our heads and landed in the tops of the tall trees. Sadly they didn't perch for long and flew off out of sight.
While attempting to phonescope some perched crossbills, another 2 hawfinches following by and another single went over while we were watching the 'crossbill pool' in the walled garden. Still no sign of any crossbills coming in to drink so we went in search of more firecrests but only managed a few siskins.
Getting back to the main track, we stopped talking to another birder when a group of crossbills dropped into the tall trees again. At least 30 birds were in this group including the controversial wing-barred crossbill sp and at least a couple of juv commons.
Not the best photo you will ever see!!
A quick look along the river at Santon Downham failed to produce lesser spot (when does it ever...?) but we did have a couple of marsh tit, nuthatch and a kingfisher.
We rounded off the trip with 4 buzzard, 3 red kite, sparrowhawk and a female goshawk on the way home to complete an awesome mornings birding.
Very very crappy phonescope shot of the best birthday bird of the day