• Wild Shetland Tours

Two-barred Crossbills

The summer of 2019 will long be remembered by Shetland's birdwatchers due to the enormous influx of the usually very rare Two-barred Crossbill. From early July onwards, these charismatic birds arrived at numerous localities across Shetland, and by the end of the influx in August there had been in excess of 200 birds found in the islands.


I was lucky enough to discover several individuals and small flocks during the summer. Two-barred Crossbills (and all species of crossbills in general) are often very confiding, fearless birds, probably due to the fact they usually inhabit remote forests and have little contact with humans; this makes them easy to photograph! Below are photos of various birds I discovered over the summer months:

The three photos above are of a male in its second year (hence the orange colouration, rather than a deep red shown by fully mature males). This bird was one of the first to arrive and was at Levenwick on 9th July 2019.

A trio at Glendale, Trondra on 12th July 2019. Two lovely-looking male birds and a slighly more demure female.

Three of eight birds at Brae on 23rd July 2019. From the left: a young (orange) male, an adult female and a juvenile.

One of the last birds to arrive, this characterful juvenile was at Northdale, Unst just for the morning of 10th August 2019.


A full write-up on the invasion can be found here:

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All photos (c) Rob Fray

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