Friday, 8 December 2017

Parrot Crossbills at Santon Downham

28th November 2017

This winter two groups of Parrot Crossbills have been found in England. The first group numbering about 40 individuals is in the Santon Downham/Santon Warren area, and the second group of 20 birds is at Wishmoor Bottom Heath on the Surrey/Berkshire border. So today we travelled to Santon Downham to try our luck there.

The birds were easy to locate, but the difficult decision was where to photograph them from as the area containing the pines in which they were feeding is fenced off for grazing. The birds were nearest the road at a range of 15-20 yards, but here the sun was coming from one side, whereas on the river side of the paddock the sun was right behind you but the birds were 30-40 yards away, a little bit of a challenge.

We elected for the river side on the basis that good light is worth about 10 yards in range and settled down to take some photographs whenever they presented themselves outside the needles, as when they are feeding they are frequently obscured. The results weren't that bad but the birds had now flown a few yards further north and were now almost over the road where the sun was less of a problem, so the decision was taken to swap sides.

The birds were now a lot closer but were not showing particulary well and the light was still a bit of a problem, but we did manage to get a few shots.

Well, that was reasonably successful and will definitely be worth a second visit, but the next trip will be to Wishmoor Botton Heath to try our luck with the second group.

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