Saturday, 24 August 2013

That Itchy Feeling

The pull of South Yorkshire's Two Barred Crossbill's at Broomhead Reservoir became irresistible especially when a trip to Frodsham Marsh was thrown in to pick up a Cattle Egret and potential MEGA Marbled Duck.
2 Juv. Black Necked Grebes, Frodsham No.6 Tank
Cattle Egret, Frodsham No.6 Tank
First stop Frodsham Marsh No.6 tank; the Cattle Egret showed well albeit distantly roosting on the scaffolding surrounding one of the towers on the western bank (sorry about the dodgy record shot). This bird was in stunning summer plumage which I have rarely seen in this country with previous sightings being in winter or of summer individuals in non-breeding or 1st summer plumage.
2 juv. Black-Necked Grebes, 13 Golden Plover (with 6 in resplendent summer plumage), juv Little Stint, and the days MEGA Duck turned out to be a female Ruddy first for years after the eradication program was implemented; and what of the Marbled Duck?......It was spotted flying out towards the estuary sporting a whopping great red ring on its leg, reducing its wild credentials to zilch! Even after an evening of clutching at straws on the Internet I couldn't find a colour ringing programme for Marbled Ducks using red rings....never mind! The bird is still knocking around Frodsham at the moment if anyone is interested, but this doesn't help the claims of wild Marbled Duck in the future. A Ruddy Shelduck was later found which is still present today, again the dury is out over its origin!

Cattle Egret, Frodsham No.6 Tank

male Two-Barred Crossbill, Broomhead Reservoir, South Yorkshire
After Frodsham I headed to Broomhead Reservoir to the clearing in the conifer forest plantation where the birds had been appearing for some time now. I arrived around 2:30 and the birds hadn't been seen for a couple of hours, after scanning the areas conifers for around half-hour a large flock of Crossbills (around 200 where present in the forest) flew over with a smaller flock loosely associated with them flew calling a noticeably different call.....Two Barred Crossbill.....LIFE TICK.....they then landed in the larches above the clearing and began to feed on cones. I have to admit I haven't enjoyed seeing a new species as much as this for some time, the flock consisted of at least 7 birds (they are hard to count in the canopy) including two stunning males (I know the record shots do not do them any justice). Male Crossbill's are an attractive bird but nothing prepared me for the male Two-Barred; the colour of them is a stunning deep wine-red colour.....fantastic birds! They stayed for no more than a minute or two before dispersing deeper into the forest. Luckily I stuck around on the chance that they may reappear and I was in luck, around an hour later the flock again flew into the Larches in the clearing and this time the two males began calling......a remarkable trumpet like bugle which seemed almost mechanical in its sound, most different from their contact calls I had heard previously, again this was unexpected and finished the day off nicely, if they stick around I could be tempted to visit again! Last but not least I photographed a massive female Wood Wasp egg laying in the clearing, what a stunner the photo doesn't reveal how big this thing was....enormous!
Wood Wasp, Broomhead Reservoir, South Yorkshire