|Robin at the Crossbill puddles|
|One of the bridges over the River Little Ouse|
|Mute Swan having a bath|
These birds were bigger than your average crossbill. Though they look pretty much identical to Common Crossbills, with the males being red and the females green-grey, Parrot Crossbills are larger and have a much bulkier bill, which is iconically crossed. Unlike Common Crossbills, which can only use their crossed bills to prize open the cornels of a pine cone that's hanging on a tree, Parrot Crossbills uses their bills to take the cone off the tree like a pair of secateurs and take it with them. But living on a diet of pine cones leaves you with a dry mouth and a constant need to drink. This is why these 12 birds are sitting patiently in the trees, waiting for us, a large crowd of twitchers armed with cameras, scopes and binoculars, to move away from the puddles so that they could drink.
Eventually, after mustering enough courage, a few of them came down to the puddles to quench their thirst. You could hear them calling to each other constantly, encouraging the others to do the same. "Chub-chub-chub-chub!" While at the puddles, they were quite on edge and as more twitchers arrived, they took to the air and perched on nearby trees before coming back down once they felt it was safe to do so. Once they drank their fill of puddle water, they disappeared back into the forest. I couldn't believe my luck! It took 3 hours of waiting and searching, but it was worth it. What stunning and impressive looking birds they were!