Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Friday, 19 March 2010

Crossbills

Just a quick post today, ‘cause I’m excited; and I'll catch up with everyone later. RSPB Sandy has had some Crossbills at the reserve, the last few days. Since it’s a bird I’ve never seen before, and a visit there was long overdue, I decided on a trip there on Wednesday.

Bright and early I wandered from the car park to the feeders by the shop. A lone Brambling was hoovering up the seed that had fallen on the ground, and a Goldcrest was tugging at the grass. ‘Good start’ I thought. I made my way down to the hide, where the Crossbills have been sighted, drinking from the small pond.

I sat.
I waited.
Another bloke had the same idea, and sat at the far end of the hide, with a lens that looked like it belonged on the end of a tank. I felt quite inadequate.

I waited some more. After 2 hours I decided on a stroll round the gardens, and then I’d come back.
The gardens provided a Muntjac skulking in the shrubs, and Siskins in the trees. Great stuff.

Back at the hide, bazooka man informed me the Crossbills had just left. They came for a drink, then flew off.
Bugga!!
I sat a bit more, but no sign of Crossbills. A Sparrowhawk flew in, scattering the birds from the feeders, and then sat in a tree. Yea, I got pictures. Nah, not done them yet. Half an hour passed, no Crossbills.
I went home.


Today I woke up early, thanks to Jim. A bit cloudy, but I figured it might brighten later. Off to Sandy again. Straight down to the hide; no time to lose. I was determined to see a Crossbill.

Two bazooka men sat at the far end, mumbling to each other in hushed tones.

I sat.
I waited.
I waited some more. A Great Spotted Woodpecker provided some amusement, as he flew around. I practiced some flight shots, while waiting for the Crossbills.



After 2 hours, no sign of the bird I’d come to see, so I wandered round the garden. I wandered back to the hide. I’d just missed a couple of males, having a drink.
Bugga!!
An hour passed. Nothing. I left to walk to the hill fort, on some heath. Apparently a small flock of them had been seen in the conifers earlier in the week. If nothing else, the exercise would be good. Three Buzzards were mewing, as they soared above. What a sight. No pictures though. No Crossbills either.
I carried on, towards the shop in the distance. I began to think these Crossbills didn’t exist. Two Red-legged Partridge took to the air in front of me, circled round, and dropped back down behind.
I was getting tired.
The sun was shining, and it felt quite warm. I sat outside the shop with an ice-cream. I’d had two good days at Sandy, despite not seeing the bird I’d have liked to. I strolled back to the car, and then thought, ‘sod it’
I made my way back to the hide. One last try.
I settled inside a fairly busy hide. A young lad asked if I’d come for the Crossbills.
Yea, I nodded.
‘They were here a little while ago……….’
Bugga!!
I sat.
I waited.
Thirty minutes later,

a female flew in for a drink. It’s a wonder the sounds of all the camera shutters going didn’t scare her off. Instead she looked up,


then carried on drinking. You little darling! About twenty minutes later, two males dropped in to the small puddle behind.




Hidden behind the grass, a long way off, but at least I had a pair! I beamed.
They did exist after all.

29 comments:

  1. Oh well done Keith! Your patience and tenacity were rewarded in the end and I'm not surprised you're excited, I'm excited for you! How lovely, yet another bird I have never seen, I'm sure it was well worth the wait. A beautifully told tale with a very happy ending. Lovely photo of the GSW also.

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  2. Well Keith a stirling effort by you, and good to see you were rewarded with the Crossbills, eventually!!!

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  3. Gosh Keith I was holding my breath towards the end. Glad your patience and persistence were rewarded by some good shots.

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  4. Well Keith, you got them after all, and what long time! I'll bet that was a nice time.

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  5. Thanks Jan. It was well worth the wait. I’m glad all bird watching trips aren’t that frustrating though lol

    Bob, thank you. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see them. I missed out totally last year.

    John, thank you. The last visit to the hide almost didn’t happen. I was going to go home instead.

    Bob, thank you. Worth the wait though, in the end. :)

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  6. Excellent stuff! I enjoyed that one - and some great shots too!

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  7. Brilliant images Keith to catch the GSW in flight and the Crossbills as well.
    Absolutely Brilliant

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  8. Cheers Mark. Had a great couple of days there.

    Thanks Keith. The woodpecker was very obliging, flying backwards and forwards.

    Sam and Lisa, thank you. I was very pleased to finally see them.

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  9. There is a moral to this story hidden somewhere in there Keith. Something like "Stay in the damn hide". {:)
    Glad you got them in the end. I shall have to get down there soon. Great shot of the flying GS woodpecker as well. These Bazooka types give you the creeps don't they.
    They are not like us more refined M16 types.

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  10. Cheers Roy. Yea, I think you're right about the moral lol
    I really enjoy Sandy; always seems to hold a few surprises.

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  11. Interesting photos! The woodpecker while he is flying is my favourite.

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  12. I have to agree with Shysongbird you do tell an amazingly funny story, especially liked the 'bazooka men bit', I'm imagining them in cartoon form, pity I can't draw like the wildlife ranger fellow. He has a great webby site too. Anyway thanks for widening my bird knowledge yet again with the Crossbills, such an unusual looking bird with those colours and beaks

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  13. Kozma, thank you. There were a lot of rubbish pictures of the woodpecker, before I managed something reasonable. Good practice though. :)

    Debbie, thank you for your comment.
    I don't know the 'wildlife ranger fellow', but he sounds interesting.
    After almost a lifetime watching birds, I'm still learning. Hope I never stop ;)

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  14. Oh well done Keith... I dipped on Crossbills recently and they probably wouldn't have been photographic material even if I had seen them!

    Patience rewarded! One day I'll visit Sandy - not been to that reserve.

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  15. www.wildliferanger.co.uk. His website is well worth a look. He used to be in the Royal Marines, has worked in a zoo and now has the enviable job as a wildlife ranger. There are some great pics, the odd funny hand drawn cartoon, loads of lovely pics of his working dog TESS. His should I say witty style has had me in stitches many a time. Especially the time when some old dear rushed up to him to tell him how unattractive his labrador dog was, great stuff, I think you will like it.

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  16. Being patient does pay:-) Well done for getting your pictures of the Crossbills.

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  17. Great great spotted woodpecker shot - and the crossbills - we have crossbills around here but I only ever see them way up in the tops of trees

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  18. The woodpecker, very great foto!!!
    Regards,
    Uwe-Jens

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  19. What a thrill to get what you set out to get!!! Just put your mind to it, right!!
    Great photos of all-- the woodpecker in motion is terrific!!

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  20. Congrats Keith... Yes your tenacity has paid off! Sometime we need to be really patient to get what we want, and when we are just about to leave, then it happens!!!
    The problems with crossbills at least over here (maybe not the case at your place) is that they move from one tree to another quite often, but they tend to come back... So you did the good thing by waiting and not to run after them ;-)

    Your pictures are gorgeous... To get them in a drinking moment and on the ground is not easy and quite rare! Well done!

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  21. Thanks Tricia. Worth a visit to Sandy. Plenty to explore; you’ll have to let me know if you decide to go.

    Debbie, thanks for the link. Had a quick look, and bookmarked it for a proper look later. He’s quite a character. Beautiful dog he has too.
    Thanks for that.

    Thanks Linda. I’m not blessed with much patience usually, but I was determined to see these.

    Thanks Phil. I missed out on seeing these when they visited last year. They don’t seem to stay long; perhaps just pass through.

    Uwe-Jens, zeder, thanks for your comment. Appreciated.

    Dixxe, thank you. Yea, the time paid off in the end. :)

    Chris, thanks. Had to stake these out at their watering hole to get these. They kept way too high in the trees for a shot otherwise.

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  22. Will do Keith... and thank you

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  23. WOW! Dedication! And it paid off - beautiful photos! :)

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  24. Thanks Jen. It was all worth it in the end. :)

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  25. Well worth all the effort. I bet you're dammed glad you went back just one more time! FAB.

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  26. Cheers Frank. Yea, I very nearly went home lol

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  27. Diesen Vogel habe ich noch nie vorher gesehen. Sein Schnabel ist wirklich sehr spezialisiert auf seine Nahrung. Besonders lustig fand ich die Beschreibung der technischen Ausrüstung der anderen Fotografen;-)) Viele Grüße von Luzia

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  28. Thanks for your comment Lucy. I was pleased to see these, eventually. The first time I have ever seen them.

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