Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 23 December 2013

Crossbills at Croxton Heath, Norfolk 23/12/13

This visit to Croxton Heath was quite different to my previous one in that the morning was very dull...low light would make photography a challenge.  My objective was to find the watering hole (puddles in track) where Crossbills come to drink.
Walking the miles of tracks through forest and forest clearing brought thoughts of a wintering Great Grey Shrike, there is plentiful habitat to support this species and I am sure in time one will turn up. 
As I made my way to my objective I started hearing the very familiar, strong "chip" call of Crossbills and viewing through binoculars, I could see some birds in a single tree within a large clearing where these birds come to gather before dropping down to drink from the puddles.
Once in position, I sat and watched a few birds in the tree, however, in time, numbers grew to 30+ Crossbills, all with one objective, to drink from the puddles.  Sadly, light was never to improve during my visit, but both the sight and sound of these stunning birds, and observing their behaviour, made for a good visit. 

Crossbills on Croxton Heath, Norfolk 23/12/13
Whilst watching the Crossbills I saw a Peregrine Falcon approaching low from the west, as it passed by the Crossbills reacted very noisily and flew off together towards the falcon ensuring they shadowed it from behind, once they were confident the raptor had left their territory the Crossbills returned to the same tree.
I could see Crossbills dropping down onto the track to drink, however, they were generally out of sight within a depression on the ground.
Although usually high in the lone tree, the Crossbills would now and then fly around and settle on smaller trees close to the track, this was when I was able to take the above shot.  This picture gives a good indication of the differences in plumages between the duller females to the beautiful red male birds.
Other birds seen during my visit included Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, and Eagles, that's F15 Eagle fighter aircraft from the nearby american airbase at Lakenheath.


  1. Lucky you, Paul. Your Crossbill photos are far better than mine despite, in theory, there being better light down here in southern Spain! Great blogs and photos as usual and a joy to read and keep in touch with what is happening and being seen not so far away from our little house in Stamford, Lincs.

    Bob Wright

  2. Thank you very much Bob. Hope you and Jenny are keeping well. Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, bird-filled 2014.

    Paul and Pam x