Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) close-up in a puddle while bathing. The photos on the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” were really sensational. The Sunday before, I had made already for a short trip to an area nearby for the long-staying Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). The Brown Shrike was a first sighting for the Netherlands. So rare Parrot Crossbills are not, but this year seems to be an irruption year. After visiting the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl”, we decided to look for these rare Crossbills which are seldom found in Central Europe. The target area was not far from the German border south of Nijmegen. The Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) had been present for several weeks on the border between Limburg and Gelderland already. Parrot Crossbills are currently to be found in Germany, too . So on February 3rd 2014 at least 6 individuals in the Werdauer Forst (forest) in the district of Zwickau in Saxonia. While they occur to my knowledge in Germany only in small numbers and often only seen flying the Parrot Crossbills in the heather in Nijmegen are both frequent and watchable while bathing and drinking. Ok, lets go to the small village of Molenhoek and from there into the reserve Mulderskop Zuid.
Mulderskop Zuid is also a popular recreation destination. I was a bit skeptical how to orient in this area and how we could find the Parrot Crossbills. After all, the GPS data on the website of the birders in the Netherlands “waarneming.nl” gave some good hints. So: Just go there and try. To my amazement, the reserve “Mulderskop” is crisscrossed with a few narrow paved roads that can be traveled by car. Quickly we find out, that the puddle with the bathing finches was located not more than 500 meters from an obviously popular parking. When we arrived at 12:40, a flock of Parrot Crossbills (Loxia pytyopsittacus) were drinking and bathing in a – not to say that: the – puddle actively. Unfortunately, they disappeared before I could set-up the photo equipment. First lesson: patience is essential – but this was with good company of the many dutch birders and photographers not problem. The perfect winter-sun weather made staying until late afternoon convenient. The results of the Crossbill shooting you see here in the gallery .
A short walk revealed a pair of Parrot Crossbills in a small wooded area with pine trees nearby where the Crossbills could be observed feeding on pine cones . But these were not the photos, because I had driven the 130km from Germany.
Then finally: First one, then a total of four Parrot Crossbills gather in the bald canopy of a solitary oak tree. Their characteristic calls you can hear. They obviously want visit the muddy puddle at the foot of the tree. It is the 2nd puddle in a sandy and insofar mostly dry area, but this puddle had almost no water. They came further and further down on the branches. Especially the males were becoming more and more “courageous”. Then finally I was able to photograph my Loxias. The Dutch birders have addressed all Crossbills as Loxia pytyopsittacus. Regarding the pictures, in the meantime I was not so sure. Whereas the drinking male Crossbill is with good reason, a Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus), the other male crossbill looked so normal – even if the ends of the lower beak is not reaching over the upper ridge of the bird’s beak (culmen). For those interested: The images you see here.
However, this is a known issue with the ID definition and is also discussed in the dutch ornithologist community. The lower mandibel does not always perform as powerful as is shown at the “The bird guide” by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney , Dan Zetterström. A certain variability within the species is probably also given and certainly the age plays a role, too. Thus, only the birds with extremely high beaks reveal no doubt, but for a safe ID one must fall back on the calls. A recurring problem is indeed that the best crossbill pictures are taken by the water and that the beak often is opened, which results in the fact that the form is difficult to estimate.
If you are also interested in this Palaearctic rarity, you should not hesitate to go there. The exact spot is easy to find by looking at the website of the Dutch colleagues.
In order to meet the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Trips to remote places like this one to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery are only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if I could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.
Other successful shootings you can see under: www.bird-lens.com in the pictures shop.