Whilst in some local woodland, no more than a mile away from my front door, I encountered a group of Crossbill whilst failing to find the desired Firecrest! At first they were feeding high in the trees, so I paid them little attention. However, I noticed two birds begin to descend the tree, before flying very low to a small oak nearby. Having studied them a lot last year, I knew instantly that they were probably coming down to drink (due to their very dry diet of pinecones, Crossbill are very thirsty birds!).
Rather than using one of the nicely lit puddles on the forest path, they decided to fly over to a small flooded area of the nearby gravel extraction plant! Thankfully it was not in operation and I quickly had absolutely fantastic views as the female crossbill flew down and landed about 7-8m away! She had a quick drink for 10 seconds, and then flew back to the nearby conifers.
Being fairly habitual, I knew the birds were likely to return, and sure enough 40 minutes later they returned and came down for a drink once more (this time a couple of males came down also!). Although brief, the experience was absolutely fantastic and I was reminded why Crossbills are one of my absolute favourite birds!
I returned the next day in the hope of getting some more photographs, but unfortunately the birds, although around, were not too keen on coming down for a drink!
I had originally posted 3 of these photos on flickr, but I have just realised that the quality is absolutely appalling (why do flickr keep messing around with this new format?!), so hopefully they will look significantly better below.
As always, thanks for reading!!