The last time I dipped these birds was late Summer and again into Autumn last year, so the reports of a maximum of 5 Two-barred Crossbills at Lynford had me firing up the Fiesta and heading to the Brecks, accompanied by James and Connor. A glorious day it was, and upon arrival it did not take long to hear singing Firecrest (4 + territories encountered) and Nuthatch. We began searching for Crossbill at a construction site just inside the arboretum, and after 10 minutes or so a male Crossbill landed in a small tree. A closer look revealed it to have wing bars, one in particular was chunky. Even more crucial were the tertials, fringed white. This looked good for the reported 1w male. He didn't hang around, and we were left almost convinced!
Searching amongst the varied trees and shrubs, Connor came across 2 Hawfinch. I managed a glimpse of one high up in a pine. I have never seen Hawfinch in the arboretum itself, only in the paddocks or on the ground near the feeders. Presumably we had stumbled across a nesting pair, a real slice of good birding and good luck combined. The usual site at the feeders was busy with onlookers to the Hawfinch were naturally keeping a low profile.
Back at the puddle, we chatted to other birders and up until now the definite Two-barreds had not been seen since this morning. Connor again was on form, picking up a call we had been hoping to hear, a 'tooting' contact call from the larches. Now we were able to enjoy excellent views of a male, soon to be joined by a female and a second male. What trying, but cracking birds these Two-barreds are. We watched them feed in the larches, able to take in the full suite of features. Unmistakeable!
Other birds of note included Redwing, Goldcrest, Common Crossbill and stacks of Siskin.
I haven't looked at my life list for a while, but it looks like I'm now up to 313 BOU, and with a trip to Scotland in April I can hope for a few more additions.