Saturday, February 12, 2011

Crossbill Invasion - Common & Uncommon Fair Isle Birds

Female Crossbill
July 2009 Crossbill Invasion

I had only seen a handful of Crossbills the year before and those were lifers. Crossbills are nice birds to see but they do not get calls out for island twitching. I occasionally heard about them being seen around the isle from various birdwatchers as they pass my house and give me birding updates. I can still remember how disappointed I was when I ruled out female Two-Barred Crossbill while trying to Identify that Citril Finch. (I eventually got over it) But I did get a call for Two-Barred Crossbills and I may be the only person Birdwatching in the UK to tick off Two-Barred first? (LOL! only on Fair Isle)

Male Crossbill

That July 2009 several flocks milled around the Island, daily accounts of well over 100 birds were common for a week or more. July is the time of the year were the only Birdwatcher here have come here are for nesting Sea Birds like "Puffins!" not migratory rares...

Crossbill & Friend

It's not always this easy to spot the rare Two-Barred Crossbill.

Look at this Guy? He's not all Fluff!

I had heard a Two-Barred Crossbill was spotted at Muckle Uri Geo by the South Lighthouse. I wanted to get a photo as I heard it was very approachable. I was looking around and couldn't see a thing but Common Crossbills? I was close to this guy and I started to take photos of it because I could. I finally got to close and the bird flew off! OMG! look at the white bars on the open wings in flight! Now sitting on a fence wire I could see more white than before and realized I had the right bird all the time.

Two little to be sure Barred Crossbill

Hiding your "Two Bars" is one way to confuse the birdwatchers?

The Rare Two-Barred Crossbill feeding on the equally rare Oyster Plant said to taste of Oysters.

The Oyster Plant is fenced off to protect from hungry sheep and foot traffic as Fair Isle is one of the only locations in the UK that this plant grows naturally. The birds do like to perch on the wires to get a better view.

South Lighthouse and Two-Barred Crossbill

 How did I get these amazing close ups with my rubbish camera?

I was lucky to happen upon the Asst. Wardens Jack & Simon ringing some birds by the South Lighthouse. They held them for a moment before releasing them. Click! Click! & Thank again guys!

How many Crossbills can you find?  can you find all six?
You wouldn't think Red and Yellow birds would be so well camouflaged?

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