4 vocal types now recorded at Strines
Following on from a couple days ago, Dougies Preston got in touch from Shetland interested to see the Crossbill sonagrams. So I sent him sound files.
Thing was my confusion. The first Crossbills I heard on Friday sounded ‘different’. ie not the classic ‘chip chip chip’ or ‘glip glip glip’ that epitomises ‘Glip Crossbill’. If you’re not yet into Crossbill vocal types, they REALLY do sound different from one another. Each of the different calls came from different flocks. The Glips were a larger flock of 10-15 birds, the other 2 vocal types from very small and quite separate flocks of 2-3 birds.
I certainly haven’t learnt all the Crossbill vocal types by ear yet. I just know ‘different’ (from ‘Glip’). Having collected a few recordings of varying quality, when I tried to look at them, I could tell the Glip Crossbills straight away. I knew that’s what they would be. The first ‘different’ one was confirmed by Dougie as Parakeet Crossbill (as suspected). However he also came up with another. British Crossbill. 3 types at least at Strines at present. I could see differences in the sonagrams but I thought claiming 3 would be too many!
Must admit I half thought it would be just one Crossbill vocal type and that I was mis-understanding something. However all recordings were of flight calls- not excitement calls, and the different callers were in different flocks. Suppose it could be bit like mixed winter Bunting/ Finch flocks all in same good feeding habitat. Especially with immigrants in autumn winter, chance of variety increases.
I am a kinesthetic learner so I learn best by doing (rather than reading etc). ‘Doing’ here is making my own recordings (no the best – but they are mine!) and learning from birds I am personally seeing and hearing. I now have a better frame reference to go forward. I recorded Phantom Crossbill here before in very lean Crossbill year (3 plus years ago). I should still have the recording but I am not sure where it is.
Why Strines for Crossbills?
It is a great Crossbill spot. Twice recorded Two-barred Crossbill, many Parrots in the past (flocks in invasion years in 1982-83 and 1990-91) and ‘Common’ Crossbill arriving most years and occasionally breeding. You can see the east coast from Strines (well OK the Humber Bridge); it’s on the moorland fringe and is the first high point the birds reach which is also full of food!
So here’s the sonagrams. Will try and add sound files later, (click on for slightly for larger image). They can be compared with sonagrams and recordings in ‘The Sound Approach to Birding’ (and if you haven’t got a copy yet- why on earth not?!)
All recorded using a Remembird– still for my money the best value, lighweight, effective, carry around recording device
Glip Crossbills. A small flock flying low overhead, so good clear sound ‘capture’. Red Grouse calling nearby also (lower pitched row of dark blobs). The Glip Crossbill is the first vocal type to learn, the commonest, and the call type which use to be written about in field guides. Sonagram shape as a ‘tick’
Parakeet Crossbill. This is the one that sounds a bit more like a Parrot Crossbill and tricked both Swedish and Dutch birders several years ago into thinking there was a Parrot Crossbill invasion – When in fact i was a Parakeet Crossbill invasion. Recorded from a flock of 3 birds of at Strines.
British Crossbill. The surprise find from a calling flock of just 2 birds. Thanks Dougie!