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A community web site dedicated to the observation, recording
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Whatever your problems or mood let wildlife brighten your day (Ralph Hollins)

for December 16-31, 2014
in reverse chronological order

Blog Archives . . . from 2012 to current


Malcolm's news

Having got myself a stinking cold and a developing chest infection over the Xmas period, I am relying more and more on Malcolm Phillips to cover to local wildlife news and he is doing it very well indeed. Thanks Malcolm. He got round the meadow today and saw lots of Blackbirds, Great Tits and Robins also got one Long-tailed Tit.

Malcolm also saw the regular Kingfisher on the table in Peter Pond and again down by the old Fosters yard on a rope. Kingfishers are really so common this winter. Have they had a particularly good breeding season, I wonder?

 Finally, Malcolm beat me to see the first Snowdrops of the winter on the grass verge along Lumley Road. We should be getting some on Brook Meadow too, if they can fight their way through the jungle of vegetation.

Langstone Mill Pond
Peter Milinets-Raby popped down to the Langstone Mill Pond this afternoon (2pm to 3:25pm - low tide). The highlights were:
As reported by Ralph Hollins, the female Wigeon had been joined by a male Wigeon on the Langstone Mill Pond. However, this bird was very wary and soon flew off, but stayed long enough for a nice photo.

Also on the partially frozen pond was a Water Rail walking about on the ice and 2 Teal and 5 roosting Grey Herons. The frozen horse paddock held just 18 Moorhen.
Off Pook Lane: 2 Greenshank (G//R+BRtag//-), 256 Knot, 61 Shelduck, 1 adult winter Med Gull, 363+ Dunlin, 56 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, 2 Golden Plover, 10 Red Breasted Merganser, 4 male and 3 Pintail, 450+ Brent Geese flying around occasionally over the fields.

Tony's news

Tony Wootton apologises that this is not Emsworth news, but Hilary and he walked in West Dean Woods today and saw 5 Red kites in one viewing. That's good news.

They carried on to Iping Common to find the reported Great Grey Shrike. This handsome bird is a very scarce winter visitor to this country. It breeds in northern Scandinavia but often returns to favoured spots. Is Iping Common one of those I wonder?


Ma\lcolm's news
Malcolm Phillips sent me a few photos from his morning walk through Brook Meadow and down to Slipper Millpond.

He snapped this fine Jay on the meadow.

And a mystery bird. Guess what?

Down at Dolphin Quay Malcolm got another great shot of a female Kingfisher sitting on the wall at the bottom of the garden at the Raglan pub. This is very likely to be the same bird that is often seen on the table at the north of Peter Pond.

Walking round Slipper Millpond Malcolm captured a Lapwing in the shallow water showing off its fine head plumes.


Garden birds
The cold snap has brought the birds into my Emsworth town garden in good numbers seeking food. I have recorded a total of 16 species which is exceptional for our small urban garden. It was good to see the Starlings return after a very long absence, though I often see them flying over in small flocks. They like the fat balls. Greenfinch numbers are also building up with a maximum of 7 on the sunflower hearts, though that is way down on what they used to be in their heyday in the first half of the 2000s when I up to 50 at a time. The male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers are still daily visitors, mainly to the fat balls, but the male has discovered the delights of sunflower hearts.
Another bird that has fallen away over the past 10 years is Song Thrush, so it was particularly pleasing to see one back in the garden today for the first time since May this year. However, as always, it was swiftly chased away by the dominant male Blackbird.

Finally, wintering Blackcaps seem to have arrived from the continent. I had a female in the garden yesterday and Tony Wootton had a male in his garden on Christmas Day apparently feeding on the flowering mahonia. Maybe it was looking for insects or taking nectar even? These Blackcaps are not the same population as the summer migrants that migrate here from the Mediterranean, but are winter migrants from the continent.

Emsworth Millpond
There was a small flock of 6 Tufted Ducks on the town millpond when I walked round there this morning, 5 of which were males. This is the largest number so far this winter, though if this cold weather stays I reckon numbers could swell to 30 or more.

Also of interest were two Common Gulls standing on the ice in the south part of the pond. One was an adult and the other was clearly a young 1st winter bird.

Brook Meadow
Malcolm Phillips went round the meadow early today and saw a Water Rail right up in the north east corner and watched as it made its way back towards the north bridge. This is presumably the same bird that we have frequently seen near the S-bend in the river.


Malcolm also got another photo of what could be the Siberian Chiffchaff that we have been seeing on Brook Meadow since Dec 11. This one was taken by the S-bend. However, in view of the bird's rather bown plumage and the small tuft of yellow feathers on the wing, my guess is that it is more likely to be a regular Chiffchaff. The Siberian Chiffchaff has a much greyer and colder looking plumage than this. For comparison with the Siberian bird go to . . . Siberian Chiffchaff

Finally Malcolm got this sweet shot of a Dunnock huddled up against the bitingly cold winter wind.


Reports received while I was away enjoying Christmas festivities with the family.

 Emsworth to Warblington - December 26
Peter Milinets-Raby walked from Emsworth to Warblington on Boxing Day morning. Starting in Emsworth at the crack of dawn. Temperature -1.1C and the Emsworth Mill Pond was 3/4 frozen over!!! - very grey morning after a very vivid red dawn.
Off the Emsworth Mill Pond Wall (from 8:07am): Kingfisher on the jetty overlooking the channel, 8 Turnstone, 15 Lapwing, 20 Coot in the stream by the town, 30+ Redshank, 11 Grey Plover, 5 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 253 Dunlin, 343 Brent Geese, 3 Greenshank (2 with colour rings - RG//-+BYtag//- and G//R+WYtag//-), 12 Shelduck, 5 Red Breasted Merganser, 3 Little Grebe, 19 Knot, 1 Ringed Plover.
Mill Pond Outflow (from 8:42am): 8 Knot on the rough shingle area (very hard to see), 3 Teal, 3 Grey Plover, 73 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck.
Off Beacon Square (from 8:51am): 18 Brent Geese, 4 Teal, 4 Shelduck, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Grey Plover, 115 Dunlin, 17 Wigeon, 1 male Pintail.
Nore Barn (from 9:05am): Totty the Cocker Spaniel ran down the stream and out onto the mud flats (almost reaching the salt marsh over 150 metres away!!). Everything flushed, so I was lucky to get the totals I did! 107 Teal, 85 Brent Geese, 15 Shelduck, 87 Wigeon, 5 Pintail (3 males), 89 Black-tailed Godwit (one with colour rings - ROL//-+RLR//-), 2 Greenshank (flushed by Totty), 1 Spotted Redshank (not seen in the stream - flushed by Totty), 22 Dunlin, 2 Gadwall.
Castle Farm Fields (from 9:32am): 176 Brent Geese, 60 Lapwing,
Conigar Point (from 9:40am) 121 Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank (no rings), 2 Teal, 4 Black-tailed Godwits,
Pook Lane (from 9:55am to 10:57am): 13 Grey Plover, 17 Wigeon, 425 Dunlin, 57 Shelduck, 16 Lapwing, 81 Golden Plover, 14 Knot, 1 winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Brent Geese, 1 Greenshank, 10 Red Breasted Merganser, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Teal, Buzzard sat on old tree.

 Warblington shore - December 24
Peter Milinets-Raby was up early to have a quick visit to the Warblington shore on Christmas Eve from 8:25am to 10:10am - tide sort of coming in. Highlights:
9 Little Egrets in the fields by Castle Farm. Green Woodpecker in cemetery.
Off Pook Lane: 60+ Bar-tailed Godwit in flight heading east towards Emsworth, 35 Shelduck, 493 Brent Geese on the mud, 2 Knot, 6 Wigeon, Male Pintail, 12 Red Breasted Merganser, 560+ Dunlin, 1 Greenshank, 6 Grey Plover, 210+ Golden Plover in flight over channel, 63 Lapwing, 1 winter plumaged Curlew Sandpiper for about 10 minutes,
Green Sandpiper heard calling heading west to Langstone Mill Pond, then later at the Ibis Field, 2 Green Sandpipers flew off from the Cress Beds and headed very high north. About 5 minutes later a third bird (probably the one heard earlier) flew west and landed in the Cress Bed area. 75 Collared Dove on wires over the Ibis Fields. 1 Brambling flew over west calling several times and lost going over the trees towards Langstone Mill Pond.


Flock of Bullfinches
At dusk on Sat 27 Dec, Martin Hampton and his brother saw a flock of 8-10 Bullfinches in a coppice to the south of the main Stansted avenue. Seeing one or two Bullfinches is not unusual, but a flock of that size is certainly very unusual.


Siberian Chiffchaff
Malcolm Phillips had a good morning on the meadow during which he got some good views of the Siberian Chiffchaff in Palmer's Road Copse. Malcolm's excellent photo shows well the main distinguishing features of the bird; grey-brown on crown, nape and mantle (no trace of green) and light rusty-buff on the supercilium, ear-coverts and neck and breast sides (no trace of yellow). Bill and legs are always black on this bird.

For good measure, Malcolm also got photos of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit and this smashing little Blue Tit looking very intently at some dead vegetation.


Brook Meadow
I went over to the meadow again this morning to look for the Siberian Chiffchaff. I met Malcolm Phillips and we both looked for the bird but there was no sign of it anywhere, or any other type of Chiffchaff if it comes to that, despite my playing the song recording several times. Maybe, it is getting used to it?
We did however see lots and lots of Goldfinches mostly feeding in the tall Alder trees by the river. They sometimes came down low to distract us from our main quarry.

Malcolm stayed on a while after I left and saw the Water Rail again by the S-bend along with a Little Egret. Malcolm also spotted this Magpie tearing at a dead piece of reed, for what purpose I cannot imagine.

Farlington Marshes
Charlie Annalls had a 3 hour trek around Farlington Marshes reserve yesterday and saw lots of lovely birds, including this cracking female/juvenile Kestrel which flew out of one small tree and straight into another one right next to her. It stayed on this a tiny branch in a strong wind for about 5 minutes or so whilst Charlie carried on snapping away - total of about 50 photos! Here is one I liked which shows well the brown upperparts and head with dark barring, brown barred tail and black wing tips characteristic of a female or juvenile, the two are very similar.


Siberian Chiffchaff
A cold and bleak midwinter's day indeed. I went over to Brook Meadow late morning and met Malcolm Phillips on the main river path, looking very cold. He really does not wear enough clothes! Malcolm had not seen the Siberian Chiffchaff, but a couple of visiting birders, one with an enormous lens on his camera, said they had seen it earlier. We went down to the south meadow and I played my song recording several times with no effect.

I went back home for lunch, but Malcolm stayed on and was rewarded with good views of what I assume is the Siberian Chiffchaff along the river bank in Palmer's Road Copse. That is the small woodland adjacent to Palmer's Road Car Park. Grid Ref: SU 751 058. It is quite close to the south meadow where the bird has frequently been seen.


Malcolm also saw the Water Rail in the cleared area south of the S-bend.


Siberian Chiffchaff
I went over to Brook Meadow at about 12 noon today armed with a freshly recorded Siberian Chiffchaff song on my digital recorder. I headed for the south meadow where I played the recording at first with no obvious effect. It was not until Barry Collins and a couple of other birdwatchers turned up that the Chiffchaff made an appearance, seemingly coming across the bramble hedge from the garden of Gooseberry Cottage. The bird came really close to where we were all standing, fluttering its wings in apparent display. This was exactly the same behaviour that Peter Milinets-Raby and I witnessed on Dec 17 when Peter played the song on his phone. We could not have hoped for a better view of what I assume was the Siberian Chiffchaff.
Fortunately, Malcolm Phillips turned up in time to capture some images of the bird, though that was not easy with the bird against the sky for most of the time.


Barry reminded me that he and I had seen two Siberian Chiffchaffs many years ago at the Thornham Lane sewage works. I had forgotten this. Barry dug out the information from his files that two were there from 16th Jan to 1st Feb 2001 and one still there on 1st and 2nd March 2001.

Interestingly, as I was playing the recording of the Siberian Chiffchaff a Robin also appeared to have responded to the song, coming close to where we were standing, with a song of its own plus a bit of wing quivering. Presumably the Robin interpreted the recording as indicating the presence of another Robin in the vicinity, the two songs being not entirely dissimilar. I must admit this alerted me to the possibility that the bird responding initially to the recording might have been a common Chiffchaff rather than a Siberian Chiffchaff. Hmm.

Malcolm had actually been on the meadow for a couple of hours before I met up with him and had got a photo of a common Chiffchaff with what looks like a metal ring on its right leg, but the definition on the photo does not allow one to read any lettering that could identify the bird. This photo was taken near the S-bend in the river, which is about 100 metres north of where we had the Siberian Chiffchaff. The bird identified as a Siberian Chiffchaff does not have a ring. Nor does it have the yellow tinge to its plumage, which is indicative of a common Chiffchaff.

Malcolm also snapped these rather fine looking Brown Trout in the river.


Hampshire Farm
Chris Oakley thinks the site has now been handed over to the Havant Borough Council and new 'deep water' signs have appeared around the pond, which would indicate a change of stewardship. This morning Chris got a few shots of Roe Deer in the plantation. Here is one of them peering through a tree plantation.


Mystery corpse
Chris revealed that he found the mystery feather (see blog for Dec 18) near the corpse of a bird in Chichester. Chris revisited the spot today and luckily found the carcass hadn't been removed. He says the feather is clearly from this bird and, that which he thought at first was a cord, is in fact an intestine. Chris's thought it could have been a young Starling and, assuming the size is right, I would agree with him. Does anyone else have any ideas?

Pete Potts (our local bird ringer) replied to say he thought the corpse looked like a wader, possibly Grey Plover, but it was difficult to tell. This could have been a bird brought in from the harbour by one of the local Peregrines.
However, Pete is sure Chris's mystery feather is from a Golden Plover, hence the yellow colouring.


Winter butterflies
Ralph Hollins summaries the recent local butterfly sightings. Red Admiral has made 14 appearances between Dec 6 and 16 at sites ranging from Portland in the west to East Dean near Eastbourne and from Emsworth in the south to Overton near Basingstoke in the north. The other species is Peacock with just two sightings, both in East Sussex and Dec 13 and 16. A photo of a Small Tortoiseshell appeared on the Sussex website but it was inside a house, clearly disturbed from hibernation.
Ralph's report reminded me that a Red Admiral was fluttering around in our garden in central Emsworth yesterday. That's the first I have seen for some while. The sun was out.
Titchfield Haven
Tony Wootton sent me the following shot he got of a flight of Curlew at Titchfield Haven today.



Siberian Chiffchaff
I walked over to Brook Meadow this morning where I met Mike from Portchester who was looking for the Siberian Chiffchaff on the south meadow. Mike told me he had just spoken to a visiting birder who was leaving; he said he had seen two Chiffchaffs on the south meadow, one of which was the Siberian. Mike and I were on the meadow for about an hour, but did not see Chiffchaffs of any form. I would appreciate receiving any sightings of this bird. Not an easy one by any means, but the tape lure seems to be the best way to confirm the identity.
Peter Milinets-Raby provided the following information on how to get the app. for a phone. Go to Google Play Store on your phone and search for Bird Sounds Groeneveld. The app symbol is a white Ibis/Crane. Once downloaded you can search all the bird songs and calls whilst online, then save the ones you like to your phone to keep.
Ralph Hollins did a quick check on other reports of Siberian Chiffchaff in Hampshire this winter, but only found one definite report of one being caught and ringed at the Fishlake Meadows near Romsey on Oct 28 and 29 with a possible sighting at Titchfield Haven on Nov 15. Over the border in West Sussex two were reported at Steyning sewage works on Dec 16 and there were reports from Dorset of one at Portland on Nov 27, in Poole Harbour on Dec 2 and in the Winspit Valley on Dec 9.
Ralph provided the following useful link to recordings of Siberian Chiffchaffs at . . .

Green Woodpecker query
In yesterday's blog entry I included a photo by Tony Wootton of a Green Woodpecker in a fruit tree. This prompted Tony to ask if they do in fact eat fruit. The generally accepted view is that they only eat ants. But are ants available all the year round I wonder? Ralph Hollins thinks Green Woodpeckers in fact take a greater variety of foods than just ants. Wikipedia states that insects and small reptiles are also taken occasionally while goes further and says their food is .."Mainly ants but also wood-boring insects and their larvae, also beetles, moths and flies. Will also eat fruit and seeds." Another source down grades ants, saying their food is .. "Mainly the larvae of insects, which live under bark. Also ants, berries and other plants". Ralph concludes, "So my answer to Tony's question would be that when a Green Woodpecker is hungry it will eat anything that does not require teeth to chew it (ruling out apples but ruling in anything which can be swallowed whole from a Newt to a Butterfly or a soft berry)".

Fox at Langstone Mill Pond
Mike Wells sent me the following photo he took of a fox stalking the birds on the flooded field to the east of Langstone Mill Pond.

That reminded me of the occasion when I witnessed a fox take a Little Egret in this same field on 28th April 2008. Quite a dramatic catch. Maybe, it was the same animal that Mike saw today?

Breeding season news
BTO reports that 2014 has been a very productive breeding season for many common birds. This year's preliminary results show that species such as Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Blackcap and Goldfinch all appear to have had good breeding seasons, and Blackbird displayed the highest productivity on record. See . . .
Robins have also had a good year, including the extraordinary 'Santa Robin'. This leucistic Robin with a Santa-type beard has now survived at least three winters in Derbyshire, making it older than the average Robin which only lives for two years.
See . . .


Brook Meadow work session
I went over to the meadow at 10am for the regular conservation work session. Well attended by 15 people, Maurice Lillie outlined the main tasks for the day. Following the work carried out by Environment Agency on felling the trees over the river, the task was now to move the pile of logs across to the east side of the meadow where they will be less vulnerable to being thrown in the river.

Colin and I fitted the new carbonate window in the south signcase which now looks very smart. Finally, at 11am we all convened at the new tool store HQ at 11.00 for seasonal refreshments of mulled wine, mince pies and stollen, provided by Maurice Lillie. Excellent fare!

For the full report and more photos go to . . .

Siberian Chiffchaff
While I was on the meadow this morning, I met a local birder in the south meadow named Malcolm Greenwood who had come to look for the Siberian Chiffchaff. He told me he had only recently moved into the area and had made friends with Dick Senior, another local birder. We both saw a Chiffchaff of some sort flitting around in the trees, but against the sky it was impossible to determine if it was the Siberian. A tape lure is certainly the best solution. This afternoon, I printed off a couple of Malcolm's photos of the Siberian Chiffchaff and put them in the Lumley and south gate signcases.

Malcolm's first photo of the Siberian Chiffchaff on Brook Meadow on Dec 11th

South meadow - Grid Ref: SU751059 - To reach Brook Meadow's south meadow you can park in Palmer's Road Car Park behind Tesco's Express. Take the path from the south eastern corner of the car park. Walk over the bridge and enter the Brook Meadow nature reserve on your left. The most recent sightings of the Siberian Chiffchaff were from the large Crack Willows along the path going north. Other sightings have been made further north near the river. Climb the steps and walk along the path beside the river.

Warblington shore
Fresh from the excitement of the Siberian Chiffchaff on Brook Meadow, Peter Milinets-Raby had a quick visit to the Warblington shore walking passed Langstone Mill Pond (12:45pm to 1:40pm - very low tide). Dull windy day, with very little around. the highlights being:
Langstone Mill Pond: 1 Wigeon, 3 roosting Grey Heron.
Flooded horse paddock: 91 Teal, 15 Moorhen, 4 Grey Heron, 2 Pied Wagtail.
Off Pook Lane: 8 Canada Geese (flew off towards Langstone Harbour), 88 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank, Golden Plover 40, 282 Dunlin, 2 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 39 Shelduck, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 12 Grey Plover, 11 Red Breasted Merganser, 1 adult winter Mediterranean Gull. No Brent. All probably on the fields!!!

Mystery feather
Chris Oakley notes that the blog has had some intriguing puzzles just lately. His contribution is this feather, which he did not find on the farm, though does not say where. Not knowing its size my first impression seeing that bright yellow was Goldfinch. Another possibility for a larger feather might be Green Woodpecker. Does anyone else have any idea what it might be from?


Nore Barn
I got to Nore Barn by about 10.30am about 3 hours after high water. The Godwits were already in place feeding on the mudflats, mostly at the end of Warblington Road. I counted 81 Black-tailed Godwits including two colour-ringed birds:
ROL+RLR - There is no mistaking this Kent-ringed godwit with three colourful rings on each leg. It is a regular in the area, the 10th sighting this winter.
R+LG - This recently ringed Farlington godwit has been seen four times this winter, once in Emsworth and twice at Warblington.

Seven juvenile Black-tailed Godwits were feeding in the low water stream, which is the most I have seen there this winter. There was no sign of Spotted Redshank or Greenshank. Other birds in the Nore Barn area included Mute Swans, Brent Geese, Wigeon, Teal and one Grey Plover. The two pairs of Gadwall that I first saw here on Dec 15 were also present, but no sign of the Pintail.
The western mudflats were dominated by Brent Geese, estimated at, at least, 500. What was noteworthy was the number of families along the edge of the shore, many with 4, 5 and even 6 juveniles. The Brents have clearly had a good breeding season, with a ratio of around 15% juveniles to adults. Here is one family with 6 juveniles.

Emsworth Harbour (east)
I found another 22 Gadwall in the main channel in the eastern harbour. Gadwall are fairly common winter visitors. 18 Black-tailed Godwits were on the town shore, but no colour-rings. The regular juvenile Black-tailed Godwits were on the edge of the town channel near the quay along with a few Dunlin. More unusual were three Little Egrets feeding together immediately beneath the quay from where this photo was taken.

The Mute Swan family with two cygnets from the Slipper Millpond nest was on the shore at the bottom of South Street with the 'Polish' mother showing her pink legs and feet.

Siberian Chiffchaff
I met up with Peter Milinets-Raby and Malcolm Phillips on Brook Meadow at 1.15pm to look for the unusually grey Chiffchaff that Malcolm photographed on Dec 11, Dec 15 and Dec 16 which Peter thought could be a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis). We started off on the main river path near the S-bend in the river. However, despite a fairly thorough search of the area using Peter's special tristis song and call on his S4 mini mobile phone we found no sign of the bird or any other Chiffchaffs.
We were on the verge of giving up, when walking back through the south meadow, Peter decided to try the song again. Hey presto, along came what Peter was fairly sure was the Siberian Chiffchaff from its very cold grey plumage. It was clearly attracted by the song on the phone and flittered around in the trees above our heads, constantly flicking its wings in apparent display. Then, to our surprise another two Chiffchaffs appeared, all actively moving around in the trees, but Peter was fairly sure these were common Chiffchaffs from their browner plumage. South meadow Grid Ref: SU 751 059

Malcolm and Peter looking for the Siberian Chiffchaff on the south meadow of Brook Meadow

We watched the birds for about 20 minutes as they constantly moved through the trees and got fairly adept at picking out the Siberian one. Malcolm took some photos which came out reasonably well despite the overcast conditions. Even though we did not hear any call or song, Peter left saying he was 98% confident that this was a Siberian Chiffchaff and and has placed one of Malcolm's photos on the 'Going Birding' web site.

Here is Malcolm's best shot of the Siberian Chiffchaff from today

For more of Malcolm's photos of this bird see entries below for Dec 16, Dec 13 and Dec 11.

Rose-ringed Parakeet
Just after seeing the Siberian Chiffchaff I met Pam Phillips who told me she had seen and heard a Rose-ringed Parakeet in the open grassland area at the northern end of Westbourne Avenue. This could be the same bird that Susan Kelly saw in Westbourne on Sunday Nov 30. Rose-ringed Parakeets are fairly common birds in the London area and in Surrey and Kent where they are often found in flocks, numbering hundreds at a roost site, which can be very noisy. There are very few sightings of this attractive parrot in the south, but maybe they are coming down here?

Green Woodpecker query
Tony Wootton saw a Green Woodpecker in his neighbour's fruit tree this morning and wonders if they eat fruit. Personally, I have not heard of them doing this. Does anyone else have any idea about this?


Malcolm Phillips has been on the meadow over the past few days in search of the very grey Chiffchaff that he photographed on Dec 11 and that Peter Milinets-Raby thinks could be a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis).
Yesterday, Malcolm got a couple of photos of a Chiffchaff, near the S-bend in the river where the Water Rail hangs out, both of which shows a bird with similar cold grey plumage to the earlier one.

Here are Chiffchaffs taken on December 15th

On today's visit Malcolm again got a couple of photos of what was probably the same bird as yesterday, but a bit further upstream by the old gasholder. I have passed all these onto Peter to see what he makes of them.

Here are Chiffchaffs taken on December 15th

Peter Milinets-Raby comments: The 15th December bird is almost certainly the same individual, so like a possible Siberian Chiffchaff - based on those papers - interesting ID points are, more prominent supercilium, more prominent black alula, fine off-white wing bar along the edge of the scapulars and whitish panel in the closed wing.
The 16th December bird is more like a normal Chiffchaff with greenish tinges to the wings, olive colours in the mantle, though after reading those articles, it still could just be a trick of the light, BUT the 16th December bird does not have a indistinct wing bar!!!
I have an hour gap tomorrow between 12:15pm to 1:15pm. I will try and pay the area a visit with some audio recordings.

Thorney Fox
Later, when the sun came out Malcolm went down Thorney for a walk and got this delightful photo of a Fox peering at him through the long grass.

For earlier observations go to . . December 1-15