A week later as the alarm woke me in the middle of the night and another text alerted me that my taxi for the day was sat at the end of the street a full 15 minutes early I momentarily questioned my judgement.
The journey whizzed by, despite cramped conditions that threatened to trap my aging bones into a living copy of a Pompei victim. We arrived at the former home of Robin Hood and set about the task of locating the prize. After a couple of false trails we broke out of the woodland and made the short walk to where two or three other birders were stood near a muddy puddle on one of the tracks criss-crossing Budby Common.
14 in all (counted as they departed a few minutes after our arrival) the Parrot Crossbills showed relatively well offering a warm glow on an otherwise rigidly cold morning. After no return in the next half hour three of our company including me departed to Rufford CP in search of Hawfinches without success.
Following a lunch stop, one that involved a full Christmas Dinner for one of the party, we made our way to Broomhead Reservoir in South Yorkshire for hopefully a white-winged helping of crossbill. Again with other birders on site we pitched up and were quickly put onto a male Two-barred Crossbill before two males began calling behind and above our heads. These two showed briefly in flight before working along the conifer belt behind us and ending up perched in the open just a little way further along the road.
The light fades quickly in those Yorkshire valleys and they aren't places to linger after dark so we were off north and home in time for tea. Easy, peasy lemon squeezy as the kids might say. An alternative version of this day is available with images of the white-winged red things here.