Monday 6th July
I managed to get out on Monday 6th July for a bit - it's a long story but things have been mental lately. I will not bore you with details but don't get involved in a car smash even when it is not your fault.....me okay, car not I am afraid. I am in hire car for 12 weeks.......
First site was East Durris. Many cleg flies on arriving into car park - not a good sign. On goes liberal doses of Autan ( have you ever been bitten by a cleg fly ? Not a horsefly, a Cleg is MUCH worse as it slices into your skin and blood pishes out !). Anyway, as I was doing that two Common Crossbills flyover, both giving a Fc4 ( same as those on Shetland currently). I didn't get a sonagram, but to be honest, and without sounding smart, I didn't need one as to me Fc4 is the easiest of the 'Common' flight calls to do by ear. But a few minutes later they went back over and this time the Telinga got them, and yes they were Fc4 confirmed on computer later that night. The larches at this site were still green ( they do use them like that) but not quite there yet I thought.
I decided to hit a site a few miles to the West just before Strachan ( pronounced Stra'an). Here, on getting out the car a flock of at least 40 went over, and although it was a cacophany I could clearly pick out Fc4 and EcE from them ( the sonogram later confirmed this).
I followed parties of birds around for an hour and a half before a really serious thunder storm and torrential rain curbed activities. All the birds I observed were feeding on plantation Scots Pine cones that still had some seeds. They were highly mobile suggesting that they were being very selective about which cones they were using eg. ones they could open, and there weren't many of them. I saw quite a few males with the faint fringing on the greater coverts, again like those on Shetland. I also saw a courtship feeding between a male and female and these were 4E types ( so they might breed straight away !? ). I should point out 4E types have gone of the radar over the last two years in my area - I have recorded several, but nothing like the 25% or so that was present in 2007. On Monday I also recorded quite a few 1B types, one identical to a sonogram Dougie Preston sent me and also the 1A types that have been all over the place since the turn of the year.
Wednesday 15th July
Same site as second location at Strachan on 6th. Lots of birds and now feeding in the larches. Many singing, some with a song I have not heard............Some 1A types but many 4E's with their very distinctive flight calls ( these really are easy to do by ear, the easiest in fact as above !)
In upper Deeside semi-natural habitat Fc4 was present, so they have apparently penetrated the full Dee Valley. This is the first year where I know for sure the call types of the immigrant crossbills ( eg. are not just roaming or displaced resident birds) and have tracked them pretty much from the coast right up the valley, approx. 80 kms !
With many being reported in the South and East of England just now it would be very interesting to see if these are also 4E types - they may not be. Anyone ?