|male Parrot Crossill, WIshmoor Bottom, 3/12/2017|
27th November-1st December
Just three, very brief checks of Mill Pond in the morning. Wildfowl numbers are at a decent level, and a couple more cold spells should help bring those figures up. A female Red-crested Pochard was with Mallards on the 28th.
I chose to start at the Wishmoor Bottom, near Camberley, with the aim of seeing the flock of up to 16 Parrot Crossbills. Sadly there was no sign all morning, and my couple of hours of hobbling around were spent taking in 2 Dartford Warblers, a Red Kite, 2 Reed Buntings and several flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares moving in a north-westerly direction.
|Fieldfare, Ridge, 3/12/2017|
Why twitch when you have a patch as good as mine? I was already asking myself that question whilst watching 12 drake Teals displaying on Mill Pond, with a Hawfinch flying overhead. I thought I’d try and find my own Parrot Crossbills in the only coniferous area here, at Juniper Hill and Leg-of-Mutton Copse, but failed to do so despite laying eyes on a very distant Crossbill looking bird on top of a spruce for a few seconds.
I did manage two Woodcocks, both flushed at fairly close range from Leg-of-Mutton Copse. I bet there’s a few wintering here – the habitat is perfect – but a bit of luck and off-piste walking would be required to see them. This record was just the fourth of 2017, and the first of the second winter period. With my ankle not feeling great, I quickly swung by Bonhurst Farm, and was delighted to see a Lapwing overhead. These birds are declining locally, and winter sightings are rare (this was only the sixth year record). A flyover Egyptian Goose rounded off an uplifting session.
The weather was grim, though for some reason I decided to hit the Ridge and try and find a Twite or Lapland Bunting. None this time, though 3 Hawfinches, 2 Cormorants and a Herring Gull flew over. The disturbing sound of relentless gunfire was coming from within Thorncombe Park, but thankfully I saw no avian casualties.
|Female Parrot Crossbill, Wishmoor Bottom, 3/12/2017|
Having seen news that the Parrot Crossbills had resurfaced, I wolfed down breakfast and headed back for round two. With Rich S kindly keeping me frequently updated, I was delighted to finally connect with these impressive and intriguing birds. They showed well, and could be heard quietly sub-calling from time-to-time.
There was only 6-8 Parrots as far as I could see, and certainly at least one Common Crossbill in the group, with a much less slopped upper mandible, and thinner neck. Side-by-side comparison was educational. Hopefully there are some to be found even closer to home as the winter rolls on.
It’s hardly light before I need to leave for work now, and consequently there were no major patch sightings this week. The water meadows to the west of Unstead Sewage Farm are becoming more attractive for wintering Little Egrets (6th on 23rd November), and I had one this morning – it can’t be long before a Cattle or (another) Great is pulled in here.