Monday, 4 April 2016

Crossbills at Birkdale LNR

Set amongst the rolling sand dunes and affluent houses, Birkdale LNR beckoned me today because a flock of Crossbills had been reported over the bird-waves for the last couple of days. I'd never been to Birkdale LNR before as I'd always thought this area was just the golf course. However it seems that there are public rights of way in amongst the links greens where an ever present stream of dogwalkers take their pets or client's pets to do their business.

I'd got all the information about location, parking and paths from the L.O.S Facebook page, mainly thanks to Austin Morley and Janice Sutton and so, after studying a Google map on my iPad, I set off to find the mysterious Gate 29 which everyone seems to know about except me.

I made a number of false starts both at parking and then on the route to Gate 29, but with the help of a couple of the aforesaid dog walkers, I eventually found the gate and the stream where the birds drink as mentioned in the Facebook posts. This was much further and took longer than I had expected, mainly because I was tramping through sand in wellies carrying my photographic gear.

I waited for over two hours, scanning all the trees and doing little sorties along various paths that lead away from the gate, but there were no sign of any Crossbills and very few other birds.  As I looked at trees I kept thinking to myself, "This isn't where you'd normally find Crossbills, they inhabit pine trees", of which there were none at all around here.  I accepted that this must just be a watering-hole for the birds, and so they would only appear here from time to time.

So after a bit more than 2 hours I gave up and decided to walk back to where there were pine trees in the hope I would find them there.  I did (at X marks the spot on the map above) but not for long.  I saw the birds flitting around one particular tree from a distance and so I approached slowly to get a better look through my binoculars. Yes,  they were Crossbills! Baboom - Lifer! Now to get a photo.  I took out my camera and could only find a clear shot of one particular female bird, as all the males were partially obscured by branches.  As soon as I fired my shutter, the whole tree erupted and a flock of around 25-30 birds flew off into the trees around Gate 29.

I did try to follow the birds by walking back to the gate but I couldn't relocate them.  So I headed back for the car checking every single pine tree carefully along the way, but I didn't see them again. Then off to Mere Sands Wood on the way home.

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