Monday, 16 February 2015

Monochrome moments

A theme of the past week has definitely been limits in colour.  I received some enigmatic shots of Godwits on the Washes from Helen Calver, fantastic in almost greyscale.

The Beet Pits took on similar tones and shimmered in the morning light yesterday.

A successful trip to the Washes caught up with the 2nd calendar year Glacous Gull on Saturday although, in being too clever by half, we went around to the western bank beyond Fortreys Hall as gulls had appeared to be closer to this bank on previous visits.  As Murphy's law dictates as we popped our heads over the bank the receding flood had lured the gulls to congregate on the bund appearing right in front of the southern bank at Witcham Gravel, where we normally perform our Larid vigil.  Returning again this evening, in the persistent rain, better views of the Glaucous Gull were on offer and a bonus smart 2CY Caspian Gull showed well for good measure.

The next monochrome moment was perhaps the most satisfying.  The Sewage Works at Ely are a little treasure.  I cut my birding teeth as a teenager at Naburn Sewage Works near York, highlights here, after many hours of coverage totalled Water Pipit, Wheatear and Little-ringed Plover, all which I was ecstatic in finding.  The whiff and whizz of the sweeping mechanics, peeking through diamond woven wire still stirs memories of that youthful optimism and joy of birding discovery.   I have not given Ely SW the coverage it perhaps deserves but have enjoyed lots of Wagtails - Pied, White, Grey and Yellow here and a very memorable and confiding singing Firecrest one early April morn.
Chiffchaffs winter around the filter beds and we have commented before that a Siberian Chiffchaff could well find it's way there.  I have a look through the Chiffs a couple of times through the winter months.  Sunday's bright start and bit of lukewarmth gave me a hunch the hardy little warblers might be active and indeed they were.  At least 2 Chiffs were singing and there was plenty of movement from upto 8 birds.  One of these drew immediate attention due to it's pallid tones and clean underparts.  It wasn't far back to the car to get the scope and as the bird was feeding fairly routinely from an elder at the edge of the beds I was able to do a quick dash.  Through the scope the bird continued to look like a very convincing Siberian Chiffchaff, I gave Ben a ring and sent out a quick e-mail.  I was due in London later in the morning and had to tag team Ben and leave, he saw the bird pretty quickly.  Ben has done some follow up work today and got some closer views of the bird but some time, effort and luck will be needed to hear this bird and confirm it's identity however it looks pretty spot on for a tristis and I'd be surprised if we are not rewarded with some diagnostic peeping or possibly some song from this bird in the future.

The final monochrome moment came in the form of a Great Grey Shrike beside the Road from Upware to Swaffham Prior.  A cracking bird, the charismatic pied sentinel swaying atop the many prime perches on offer across the rough ground near Sunnywood Farm.

Anyone for a White Nun next??