First off, sorry for the quality of the pics here - they are even worse than my normal standard, but they are images of the "Siberian Chiffchaff" at Wicks Lane Pond in Formby pinewoods, which I nipped down to watch this afternoon.
I found it near impossible to get any shots of it as it moved through the branches, occasionally flycatching, but at last it began preening for a few seconds and I managed these iffy Chiffy images.
Lovely warm conditions as I strolled thro' the pines, with Green Veined White butterflies out, and Jellyhead Jackson and Jack Taylor showing very well as the bird moved through the willows surrounding the pool.
We were later joined by Tim Vaughan.
The bird certainly sang differently from a normal Chiffchaff, but then so did the Skem "Iberian Chiffy" and we all know what happened to that don't we?
Song was like a weak Chiffchaff, before wandering off into a series of lilting notes, not unlike a Willow Warbler in some ways, but certainly without the purpose or strength.
Each phrase seemed different, as if the bird was amnesiac and trying to remember its song!
Still it appeared very grey as it moved about in the shady branches -as Jack said at one point it looked a bit like a Spotted Fly, and at first glance the tones were very cold, with pale underparts and a grey brown crown and back.
At other times it was reminiscent of a Bonelli's Warbler, but only in certain lights.
Thro' the 'scope it clearly showed yellow underwing coverts, sometimes very strongly (especially when the sun hit it), and a olive yellow rump which faded to grey brown up the back, and contrasted with its brown tail.
The picture above appears to show a dark brown alula and yellowy underwing coverts, which is good for Tristis, but it was in the middle of a maze of willow branches....(lots of light and shade falling on the bird).
A yellowy green panel was visible on the primaries.
Bill was all dark, and ear coverts were a bit scruffy, but it had a strong supercilium, and dark eyestripe.
Legs were dark of course, and it didn't tail pump much.
Once or twice it called - a single note, some say "sad", but I'd go for more "disinterested," however calls are soooo subjective.
It certainly didn't remind me of a Bullfinch that's for sure, but it wasn't the "hooet" of a Chiffy either....
Anyway, it was an intriguing way to spend a sunny hour or two...hopefully some proper photographers will get some shots of it, or someone may even tape the song?????
In the meantime, go and have a look - and let me know what you think.....
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies....