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Rare parrot crossbills fly in from Scandinavia

PUBLISHED: 17:56 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 20:48 04 December 2017

Parrot crossbills spotted near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel Pickover

Parrot crossbills spotted near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel Pickover

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

Parrot crossbills spotted near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel PickoverParrot crossbills spotted near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel Pickover

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

Birdwatchers near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel PickoverBirdwatchers near Santon Downham. Picture: Nigel Pickover

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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