Saturday, 26 November 2016
After Phragmites, the Common Reed, Willow is the plant matter synonymous with the Fen. Across the Ely wet meadows stunted stands of mature Willow give this piece of land a dream like quality, a remnant of forgotten and sodden history, to all intents and purposes lost now to the dyke and plough. Walking down the tow path of the Great Ouse, into the yet to be burnt off mist, the silhouette of the Ibis stood proud by the gnarled and twisted trunk of a stunted willow. It flew to the waters edge and fed voraciously and as the sun rose higher it's feathers shimmered with oily greens and hints of rouge. I was joined by David and Sallie who said some lovely things about the blog and we enjoyed close and prolonged views of our lingering visitor as it fed and ingratiated amongst the Canada Geese and Moorhens. We arranged to meet at the Country Park to look for the Siberian Chiffchaff.
I'd only looked at a couple of birds at the edge of the Sewage Work before finding the tristis bouncing around in a patch of young tree growth dominated by a large Willow. I'm pleased that I'd heard it calling well last week, as it gave a little added confidence in the identification, to my eye though this is a classic brown and buff Siberian Chiffchaff and it did show well today. I had been hoping I'd see the bird again and hoped I'd get the chance to get some photo's today the bird put on quite a show allowing close scrutiny and opportunities to get some reasonable record shots which folk can analyse and make their own decisions as to the credentials of the bird. Apart from cropping and a little sharpening I have not messed around with these pics at all as it's all about colour hues with these enigmatic little phylloscs. The bird showed well for some 10 minutes and allowed David and Sallie to enjoy it's subtlety too. I may be missing more recent advances in identifying tristis but this article is a very good overview of the key features, challenges and pitfalls of identifying trickier Chiffs.