Parrot Crossbill at Wakerley

Lightning strikes twice and a thirty-year wait comes to an end.

It’s been almost thirty years since the last Parrot Crossbill was seen in Northants. That was in March 1991. But it’s exactly thirty years to the month, November 1990, when the first one for the county was found. Between those two months a male and a female were seen on and off throughout the winter of 1990-91 and a flock of 10-12 was seen on just one date, 22nd November 1990. All these birds have one thing in common: Wakerley Great Wood.

So, with history repeating itself during the past 24 hours, Wakerley has turned up trumps again, producing another Parrot Crossbill in the area of larches which surround the car park and routinely favoured by Crossbills.

Captured on film during a hardcore Crossbill photography session by Tom Green yesterday, a male was subsequently identified from a photograph posted on Twitter and this led to it being seen ‘live’ early this morning, by Gary Pullan and Neil Underwood, as it fed with three Crossbills in the larches by the car park toilet block. Hopefully it will remain there for some time to come, although it is flighty and there are at least 40 Crossbills to wade through …

Male Parrot Crossbill, Wakerley Great Wood, 15th November 2020 (Tom Green)

Parrot Crossbills, UK, 1st October to 16th November 2020 (BirdGuides), the Wakerley male (Tom Green) and location at Wakerley.

To set it in context, this current autumn has seen a mini-influx of small numbers of Parrot Crossbills across the eastern part of the UK, from Shetland to Kent, suggesting that there are more out there if we make the effort to look.

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