Sunday, 17 December 2017

Santon Downham for Parrot Crossbills Sunday 3rd December 2017

A flock of Parrot Crossbills had been reported from St Helens picnic site at Santon Downham for a couple of weeks.  After checking BirdGuides and finding they had been seen again, I made the decision to go and took the Bongo for a day trip.

I parked in the car park just over the level crossing, where there were several other cars.  Checking with some other birders I was given directions into the woods where I found a number of birders peering up into the tops of some fairly distant pine trees.

I had not bothered to bring my scope as I had been told they were showing 'very well', but a scope was definitely required.  However I had good views through my bins, and looked through a couple of other peoples scopes.  I saw around 10 birds, at one point they all flew around calling which was lovely.  After taking a few record shots with my 300mm zoom lens, I returned to the van for lunch intending to go back afterwards with my scope.

Parrot Crossbills

Parrot Crossbills

I enjoyed my lunch and a chat with a nice couple parked nearby who were very interested in my Bongo.  On returning to have another look at the crossbills they had moved off.  I had a good walk round but didn't see them again.

Spot the Bongo

The walk back alongside the railway line

I wanted to check out the St Helens picnic site with a view to overnight parking there next year.  There is a sign which says No Camping / BBQS with a picture of a tent (!) but no mention of motorhomes or campervans.  I think it would be ok for an occasional wild camp - I noted that the toilets are closed from 1st November to 31st March.  I spotted another Bongo there, the only one I saw all day until one on the A14, nearly back to Felixstowe.

A number of Hawfinches had been seen at Lynford so as I still had a bit of time I drove up to have a look.  I parked in the forestry car park and walked down through the Arboretum.  As I arrived at the paddock there were 6 Hawfinch briefly in the tops of trees across the far side of the field. 3 flew off but the light was not good and they were too far away for pictures.

Note to self: Always take your scope and make sure to keep the holder for my phone in the pocket for digi-scoping distant birds!

Arrived back home about 5.15pm, distance travelled 197km.

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