On 12 January I returned to my tetrad for the River Thame Conservation Trust survey; I am required to make two visits between November and February. It was a grey morning and I had no expectations. But I had two good experiences.
On the day of my last visit, 11 November 2018, I reported to Buckinghamshire County Council that Stokenchurch footpath 86 was not marked out over the field as required by law.
Now it has now been sprayed and is clearly visible across the field.
The second good thing was that I saw a female crossbill. She was on the top of a fir tree outside the house which is on the bend of the road down Kingston Hill from the A40 (grid reference SU745973).
The light was poor and I couldn’t see the crossed bill, but the bird had a prominent beak and so crossbill was my obvious conclusion. I hadn’t seen a crossbill since 7 February 2010 when I was doing the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) bird atlas survey in Cowleaze Wood, so this was a rare treat for me.
It was also a treat for the River Thame Conservation Trust. Nick Marriner, who coordinates its bird surveys, got in touch when he saw my entry on the BTO website. It was a first for this project, and when I sent him the photo (above) he confirmed it as a crossbill.
As I walked back to Stokenchurch along the A40 I looked over the fields to where the crossbill was and could see the coniferous wood behind, into which it flew.