29 July 2013
Denge Wood, Canterbury
After reading a tweet from Julian Russell saying he'd seen 30-40 Crossbill in larches near Bonsai Bank, Denge Wood this morning, and with good numbers of Two-barred Crossbills arriving in the country I decided to drive over and take a look. At Bedgebury earlier in the week the larches had few cones and did not look like they would hold Crossbill for any length of time. I walked in to the wood and along to Bonsai Bank, but saw only a couple of small larches so continued down the path. I found a couple of Brown Hawker and two Migrant Hawker along the rides and butterflies were in good number, particularly Marbled White. I also saw plenty of Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Hedge Brown, Large White, a few Comma, a Red Admiral, a White Admiral, a Silver-washed Fritillary, two Small Tortoiseshell and a couple of Peacock.
I eventually reached a wider track that was lined for half a mile with tall, mature Larch trees and all were full of cones. So far so good. I walked the entire length and as I reached the last but one tree heard falling cones and a couple of distinctive 'Chipp' calls. The trees are very tall and viewing actually quite difficult from an acute angle, but I managed to scope the 15 or so birds apparently feeding in the tree - all Common, a few smart adult males, a couple of adult females and lots of juveniles in various stages of moult. Having checked and re-checked I started to wonder if there was another group somewhere along the ride when the flock started to call and they took flight, presumably to get a drink in an unseen pool. I was amazed when about 40 birds appeared from the tree I'd been watching.
Another six remained in the trees but proved even more difficult to view, though I saw nothing to suggest anything other than Common. About 15 minutes later the flock returned along the ride and fed in an even harder tree to watch. One immature had narrow creamy wing bars but nothing to get excited about. Over about an hour and a half I think I managed to check most of the birds, but couldn't say for certain there was not a Two-barred hiding somewhere - there always seemed to be considerably more birds in the tree than I could actually see. At least the tree have plenty of food and should continue to attract crossbills for some time - well worth keeping an eye on.
|Adult male Common Crossbill|
|Female Common Crossbill|