Rare parrot crossbills attract flock of ornithologists to Suffolk forest

A small flight of parrot crossbills have arrived at Santon Downham

A small flight of parrot crossbills have arrived at Santon Downham - Credit: Archant

Dozens of bird spotters converged on the Suffolk-Norfolk border to see rare visitors who had flown in for an East Anglian feast.

Bird watchers catch a glimpse of a rare visitors to East Anglia

Bird watchers catch a glimpse of a rare visitors to East Anglia - Credit: Archant

A small flight of parrot crossbills charmed the visitors who arrived at the Forestry Commission’s St Helen’s picnic site, near Santon Downham, Thetford.

The birds, believed to have flown in from Scandinavia, are rarities in the UK and a crowd of spotters gathered after news spread on birding websites and social media.

The birds used their cross-over bills to chomp into pine cones with the crowd below them just yards away.

They were unphased by the occasional roar of USAF F-15s overhead from RAF Lakenheath and trains on the nearby Norwich to Ely line.


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The male bird, pictured atop a pine tree, is a handsome fellow with a breast of dusky red to orange.

The female bird is less striking, in common with many other bird species, but equally attractive to many in the crowd below.

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