18 Dec 2013

Siberian Chiffchaff, American Wigeon and showy chats.

Mark Payne picked me up and we took a trip down to Burton marsh Sunday to check out a 'wheatear, that had been belatedly reported from the previous Friday. Given the time of year Desert Wheatear was a distinct possibility. No Wheatear for us but two distinctly showy Stonechats along the footpath towards Denhall Old Quay.

Meeting up with Phil Oddy we'd decided to go and look for the possible Siberian Chiffchaff found the previous day by Eddie & Kenny. We found it easily enough feeding on the debris washed up by the recent tidal surge with several other Chiffchaff. Some of these were definite nominate collybita but there was another bird, photographed by mark, that seems to be well within the variation of tristis.

The most striking bird (shown below) showed the Bonelli's type wing panel, black bill & legs, tobacco brown ear coverts, brownish supercillium and overall brown hues now associated  with Siberian Chiffchaff. It was only heard to call once and the 'peep' call also fits with tristis.

Its a little cracker and well worth the effort. Compare this bird to the one mark photographed below and you'll see what I mean about there being possibly two birds. This one was initially identified as abietinus but recent mitochondrial DNA testing on a number of birds thought to be of this race showed they were in fact trisits.

More information on these Chiffchaff races can be found by following these links:

Note the resemblance to the first bird photographed above.

With the American Wigeon having gone temporarily AWOL we decided on a cup of tea and a piece of cake at the newly opened café. Replete we decided to view the marsh from the higher vantage point of the café garden and sure enough the first bird mark set his scope on was the Yankee Wigeon - most likely a returning bird from this spring.

Great stuff and wit ha supporting cast of Merlin, Hen Harrier (3), Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a calling Little Owl it was a good afternoons birding. The debris washed up by the high tide is attracting hundreds of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails and it'll surely attract either a rare pipit or Black Redstart before the winters out.

1 comment :

John eos shooter said...

Love the stonechats! Nice blog by the way. I will add you to my bloglist and start to follow this!

Gr. John (from Holland)