Nine days to go to the Dove Stone BioBlitz and coming 9th in our top-10 of wildlife it's the Common Crossbill. Common Crossbills are seen reasonably regularly around Dove Stone so we're hoping that we'll be able to also get a record for this really stunning looking finch on the day of the BioBlitz.
This is a bird that's most definitely a specialist feeder ! Their bills enable them to extract seeds from pine cone scales. Young Crossbills bills are straight at first with the crossing developing before they've fledged and are feeding independently. The Crossbill is a really good example of why, in amongst the planting of broadleaf trees at Dove Stone, we're retaining some areas of coniferous trees due to the wildlife that they support. Crossbills also feed on Larch cones and Binn Green is quite a good area to look out for them at Dove Stone.
Crossbills are an irruptive species; they may be numerous and widespread in some years with birds arriving from outside of the UK in large numbers, linked to when their numbers are high as a result of a good food supply. Down south in the 1990s there were reports of a flock of over 200 Crossbills. That must be an amazing sight.
For a really informative, interesting article on Crossbills check out this link http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/categories/articleitem.asp?cate=26&topic=134&item=712