Arctic winds and Two Barred Crossbills.

17th November 2013
We are set for the first real cold spell of the winter next week with Arctic winds blowing and some snow falling on high ground. Heavy frosts are also predicted so a combination of these winds and frosts should finally remove the last lingering leaves from the trees. Hopefully this weather will also push Bramblings south to this area, time to increase the feeding programme in my garden. There are about twenty migrant Blackbirds around my garden as I write, feeding on fallen apples and Cotoneaster berries.
Waxwings are in Derby today (30), I don't think we'll see any here this year, but I hope I'm wrong.
This year has seen a remarkable movement of Two Barred Crossbills into the UK and a double figure flock are currently in the Forest of Dean near Speech House. I managed to see a flock of betweem four and six birds flying and briefly perching in Hemlock trees at this location. However, I was lucky to see them at all because the noise that some people make is hard to credit, how they ever expect to see anything amazes me. One man was talking so loudly I could hear what he was saying twenty yards away. Some time later he was 'talking' on his mobile phone and I use the term talking in the loosest sense, because the person he was talking to could probably have heard him without the phone!. Another group were laughing and talking really loudly and paying no attention to the birds flying around the tree tops. Later on I was standing just waiting to see if anything would fly or perch near to a small pond, when I could hear a group of people coming from approximately 100yds away laughing and shouting, ironically when they appeared they were all three dressed in Camo clothing, what a joke! they haven't got the first clue about watching nature. A number of people had travelled long distances to see, what are after all, very rare birds in the UK. Lee Evans (Twitcher) stood next to me was getting really frustrated with all the noise and for once I had to agree with him.
These Crossbills have irrupted in numbers,( 50,000 ) being reported moving from Siberian forests into Scandinavia and some of these have subsequently been seen in various areas of the UK over the last couple of months. They are usually very rare in the UK and these current numbers are unprecedented. They make quite distinctive 'Trumpet' like sounds during their call and song, unlike our common Crossbill and they have as their name indicates two large white wing bars.
Well worth keeping an eye out for in local conifer plantations!