Tuesday, 22 October 2013

That's got the family

Not a bad year really. I've now managed to tick not only a new species but complete another family. Early this morning I nipped out (if that's the right word for a two hour drive!) to Hemstead Forest in Kent where a flock of 6 parrot crossbills have been showing well. I timed the drive well, arriving about 15 minutes after first light. Two other birders on site already. Had been in the clearing no more than 5 minutes, with many common crossbills flying over, when 6 birds with a distinctive contact call  flew over. This was probably enough to id them, but they stopped in a tree about 100 yards away and even in the poor early light you could see the enormous conk on them really well in profile.
Seemed like a nice site, with lots of crossbills, the parrots, a two-bar around somewhere, bramblings calling overhead and some redpolls in the trees as well. So, that means I've now got all 4 of the crossbills currently split by the BOU, and all of them in the last month give or take a day.
After that, I drifted down to Dungeness to see if there was anything around, but both land and sea were pretty quiet. There was still a good movement of swallows out from the coast numbering in the hundreds in an hour, arctic and sandwich terns moving along the coast and a couple of arctic skuas (or parasitic jaegers to our cousins!) pestering them. One little gull on the patch by the nuclear power station was nice. On the land, lots of linnets and a late (over-wintering?) blackcap was all I could find.
Still, that takes my life list to an almost respectable 322 and year-list to 212. Aiming for 330 by the time I go back to work on Dec 2, but that could be a stretch target at over 1 a week.