A very welcome surprise, encountered just as the last of today's light faded; a surprise which, in truth, I have the Mrs (and the tides) to thank. A walk along the beach and onto the Brigg, with the bay as still as a millpond, was so pleasant - lots of accommodating waders, typically wonderful panoramas, and zero humans - that I lost track of time, and hence, we were cut off.....
.... and so to plan B, a scramble up the slopes and onto Carr Naze. With time getting on I assumed we'd head straight back through the country park, but Amity suggested a diversion along the north cliffs and then Long Lane, the hedgerow that leads almost from the cliff edge back towards town.
Which took us alongside the small group of gnarled pines just a few strides from the clifftop, from which a curious munching sound emanated, stopping us in our tracks. A few soft 'jup's later, and I was hopefully creeping beneath the trees, and looked up to find a group of at least eight Crossbills going about their sociable, cone-stripping business within the darkness of the branches.
Completely unexpected, they're a difficult bird to catch up with locally, and my only records from last year involved a couple of flyovers (one in the summer and one in the autumn) - more than most by all accounts; and so standing amongst the trees with the birds coming within a metre of our heads was a very lovely way to enjoy the last of the day.
(The only reason any of these shots came out at all in such dreadful light is thanks to the new camera, which is thanks to my old man - what a legend!)