The Crossbill influx, October 2017
On 27th October 2017, Shaun Gelling alerted Neil Morris to a flock of some 100 Crossbills in South Barrule Plantation, Isle of Man. As there was open public access to the site at the time, the news was released (though the site has since closed for forestry maintenance).
Some of the birds concerned were noticeably stout-billed and several showed obvious, though narrow, white tips to the median coverts, greater coverts and tertials.
Of the birds reported and described so far, none have shown features diagnostic of Two-barred Crossbill. All the birds thus far documented are within the normal variation of Common Crossbill. For example, see image 1.
Some excellent photographs were obtained of one or two birds with deep bills. However, the identification of large-billed Crossbills - especially from single photographs - is not straightforward. It is hoped that further images as well as sound recordings will be forthcoming in order to support any claims of identification as Parrot Crossbill.
As well as Parrot Crossbill, there have been assertions that Scottish Crossbill is involved in the influx, though this will be impossible to prove without sound recordings. Of course, it is just as feasible that large-billed Continental birds might be involved.
Please send in your Crossbill images
Below is a series of images showing, for purposes of comparison, different birds photographed over the period.
We await further images and encourage everyone who has photographed Crossbills on the Isle of Man to send them in so we can add them below for further comparison. Accompanying drawings, descriptions and sound recordings are vital to support photographic evidence.
(Click on images to expand)