Saturday 23rd July Light SW cloudy, muggy, dry
I make my way to a pine forest north of Nethybirdge. I am looking for crossbills, parrot crossbills to be exact. Beyond a large quarry, up a steep hill and into the forest proper, I pick bilberries that stain my hands and, like miniature blueberries, provide some sustenance. No biting insects here, I spend four hours and see six crossbills. None of them land though, they just chup as they pass, first three, then two then one.
I return to my tent just before heavy rain starts. The rain lasts well into the night.
9.44 Miles 616 feet elevation up and down
Sunday 24th July Light SW drizzle, followed by evening of heavy rain
I make my way to a pine forest north of Nethybridge once more and enter it via a public footpath conveniently placed to the west of the quarry.
To a sort of elevated hide, the sort used for shooting deer, drizzle is falling and two crossbills land on a nearby pine. Unfortunately due to the inclement weather, photographs are poor. Also unfortunately the birds are silent.
Still they are obviously not common crossbills, having a strong neck and broader bill so maybe I can claim half a year tick. After all they must be either Scottish crossbill or Parrot.
The rain gets heavier and I sit in the hide and count a large flock of mistle thrushes pass by, over one hundred and fifty of them; the largest flock of mistle thrushes I have ever seen.
Six crossbills chup past but don't land.
The rain stops and I head back towards the hidden bike. A willow warbler phoeets nearby and I pish quietly not expecting much. I am soon surrounded by a fair number of titmice, mostly coal tits with chaffinches, more willow warblers and a treecreeper.
Back at the tent my lonely evening is spent reading, typing notes and studying the photographs of the crossbills. What I would give for some equipment to record the sounds the crossbills make when flying past. Is it just my hopes that makes the crossbills that fly by the tent sound so different to the ones I have seen in the Nethy Bridge forest?
6.74 Miles 354 feet elevation up and down