Trip reports

Bedgebury Pinetum (Leader Robin Smith)

Bedgebury Pinetum (Leader Robin Smith)
Common Crossbill (Richard Hanman)

Sunday, 4 December 2016

A very cold glorious winter's day with a cerulean blue sky provided the perfect backdrop for a walk around the Pinetum. A select band of eight group members (an octornimed?) assembled at noon but soon chaotically split into three groups (toilet group, café group and the 'keen to get on' group). Eventually the diverse groups merged into an amorphous blob again when Warren detected a pair of crossbills in a conifer only a few metres off the path.

We were all treated to stonking views of both the brightly coloured red male and the slightly more subdued olive green female. We could easily see how they acquired their name and how the adapted bill was being utilised to remove the seeds from the pine cones. Several passers-by expressed an interest in what we were looking at and we were able to let them see the birds through our scopes. They were as delighted at seeing the birds as we were at sharing it with them.

This early sighting proved to be the highlight of the day. Alas many of the speciality birds we hoped to see did not materialise. No siskins, redpolls, marsh tits or hawfinches, no greenfinches or treecreepers. We did, however, pick up several mistle thrushes, song thrush, blue, great, coal and long tailed tits as well as two buzzards soaring above us.

As we walked around we heard odd snatches of raven cronking and also the hoot of a tawny owl that had obviously not set his alarm clock correctly! Eventually we caught up with the raven on a high branch thrusting his head and neck forward every time he 'cronked'.

Generally not much to see but worth the trip for the crossbill sightings alone.

Robin Smith