Sunday 2 March 2014

Parrot Crossbills

Lady luck didn't shine on us today. Nick and I headed up to Edgefield hoping to stake out a drinking puddle and get some crackin' shots of the Parrot Crossbills. Nick, Julian Bhalerao, Penny Clarke and myself gathered around a small pool of water for around three hours in, at times, very decent light. A flock of Common Crossbills appeared briefly but the Parrots hadn't read the script.
We managed good scope views of the birds as they sat in a tree near the road but after spending over four hours in the area we decided to move on.

Male Parrot Crossbill, Edgefield, Norfolk - 2nd March 2014
This heavily cropped shot of a male was at least the best view I've had of the species. They did seem to be quite active and also quite noisy with a combination of excited calls and occasional snippets of what might have been song. Wonder will they breed in Norfolk? According to "The Birds of Norfolk" by Taylor et al., the species bred in 1984 and 1985 in the Corsican Pines at Wells Wood, so not without precedence if they do.
After that we went to a spot in the Brecks to look for displaying Goshawk. We had left it a bit late in the day and the weather was beginning to turn. Best we had were four displaying Common Buzzards. At least I know the spot now.
Yesterday I took to Strumpshaw Fen for a couple of hours. I wanted to practise a little with the external flash and better beamer. This is because I have booked a week at Magee Marsh in Ohio mid-May for warblers. In the US, external flashes are widely used for bird photography. I have a Canon flash unit and better beamer but I'll be honest, I don't have a clue how to use them. I got some valuable tips on using the flash from another photographer. I kept to it sparingly and the birds were not perturbed. It still takes practise though and effort to avoid the results looking artificial. This was my best shot of the day.

Nuthatch, Strumpshaw Fen RSPB - Norfolk - 1st March 2014

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