Crossbills turn up the volume in Kielder



Nature fans are being urged to de-stress by turning off the MP3 player and tuning in to the dawn chorus.

The Forestry Commission is staging an early morning trek in Kielder Water & Forest Park on Sunday 6 May setting out at 5am – and this year’s choral offering could be a vintage one.

Thousands of crossbills have descended on the 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) wilderness to feast on plentiful seed produced by a bumper cone crop.

Martin Davison, Forestry Commission Ornithologist, said:

"The forest was packed with crossbills last year so it really is something special to see them again. It’s possible we have Britain’s biggest breeding population. With so many still here they are really turning up the volume on the dawn chorus.”

The crossbills could leave by the end of May – so the walk is a great chance to hear and see them. Look for a bird hanging upside down like a parrot stripping seed from cones. Males are a distinctive brick-red and females greenish-brown.

The morning walk is being staged as part of International Dawn Chorus Day and Wild about Kielder season. Wildlife fans will be joining other outings around the globe as the sun rises.

Martin Davison, who will lead the trek, added:

“Each dawn chorus is unique, building to a magnificent crescendo. I’ve spent over 30 years studying birds in Kielder, but it is still magical.”

Places must be booked on 01434 250209. The cost is £14 including a post-walk breakfast at Kielder Castle. Bring walking boots, binoculars and waterproofs.

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more information go to

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