24 Jan 2010

Flocks of Firecrest and even bigger flocks of Crossbill.

Flocks of birds in Chehsire are certainly the theme for this week. Feeling pretty pleased with finding the Lesser-spotted Woodpecker in Stanney Woods I was gob- smacked to get a call from Frank to say he'd found not one but three Firecrest during his morning perambulation around Delamere. Taking a leisurely breakfast I set off with Molly and arrived just after Al Orton. Finding the spot was easy enough but  I was soon distracted from thoughts of Firecrest by an amazing flock of 40+ Crossbills above our heads feeding on larch cones. With mist and darkness pervailing the photo's were pretty poor but it can be seen that quite a bit of pair bonding was going on with the females begging and the males feeding them. This is certainly the biggest flock I've ever seen in Delamere let alone Cheshire.

The last photograph shows 34 Crossbills circling overhead whilst still more were still sat in the Larch. Brilliant stuff.

Turning our attention to the Firecrests we soon found one working its way through the vegetation but with Al having to get off to watch some second rate team called  'Man Utd' play I walked back towards the car with him before veering off to look for some Brambling Frank had told me about. Once again the weather defeated any good photo's and with the usual weekend Delamere crowds building the birds were no longer the 3 -4 m away that Frank had seen them!  After a long search I spotted one sitting high up in a beech tree.

A real shame as they're beautiful birds. With negative news from the Firecrest site I decided to head for home, thaw out and get some lunch. The best laid plans and all that.................

A phonecall from Malc Curtin to say he'd had two of the three birds showing down to a couple of metre had me scurrying back to find a mini twitch had developed with visitng birders from Liverpool (nice to see you again John), Manchester (Ann & Mike Ribbands) and Warrignton as well as Cheshire stalwarts Enid & Tony Murphy. The birds hadn't shown for awhile but walking back along the path I heard one call and picked it up less than a metre above ground level creeping through the bracken. Soon there were two together and everyone went away happy with their views. Once again the poor light conditions and the birds constant movement defeated the camera and all I ended up with was the 'record shot'.


A real shame as they are really little gems designed to brighen up a dull winters day.

Sadly one of the garden Bullfinches has succumbed to either a cat or the Sparrowhawk with a sad little pile of wet feathers in a corner of the garden. I can't make my mind up if the feathers have been chewed or plucked although the fact they're on the ground beneath a bush suggests the neighbours ginger & white cat is to blame. Measures have been taken to try and prevent it hiding beneath the bushes and lying in wait. So maybe these are last photograph of that particular Bullfinch? (Takne through the window again).

At least one male is still here as I write so they haven't been deterred to much.


simon said...

great photos!

Phil Woollen. said...

Cheers Simon. Where about in Australia are you? My daughter lives in Albury.

jon said...

Hi Phil, thanks for the heads up on the Firecrest Saturday those 2 little crackers made my weekend. I went back on Sunday for another look but they eluded me this time. Maybe the pouring rain had something to do with it. I did get a flock of around 15 Crossbill over though so a great weekend all round. Hope to see you soon Jon (Liverpool).

Phil Woollen. said...

No problem Jon. Hope to see you again somewhere soon!