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Saturday 21 March 2015

Filey Dams - on 12th March, 2015

It's been a long while (nearly three weeks!), since my last post, and this is partly because my wife (Lindsay) and I had a much-needed break for just over a week, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

On one of those days, Lindsay had a day enjoying a 'stained glass' workshop. She was quite concerned that I'd be left on my own, but I assured her that I'd probably find something to while away the time!

As it was sunny, there was no contest - I headed off to one of my favourite bird-watching locations in the area, and that is Filey Dams.

Filey Dams is quite a small reserve, accessed by driving to the end of a modern housing estate on the outskirts of Filey. It is managed by the Filey Bird Observatory & Group (FBOG), and has two relatively small hides. 

I'd been to the Dams in August, 2013 during a lone week based in Scarborough. The birders there are a very friendly group, and there was plenty of bird action to keep me amused too. I was, however, unsure as to what I might find during this March visit.

The first thing I noticed was a brand new Barn Owl box, probably only about 100 metres from the original box (still extant) that I'd enjoyed watching a Barn Owl emerge from on my previous visit. This new box was much closer to the hide than the old one. I was told that a Barn Owl had been investigating it recently, but did not seem to be in residence.

On my previous visit, most of the action had been at East Pool Hide, with plenty of waders giving good views. However, this time round, Main Hide (less than a stone's throw from the car park) provided most of the entertainment. Whilst nothing astounding, or even unusual, was seen, there were some good photo opportunities.

 It was gratifying to see that there is still a healthy population of Tree Sparrow here - a species that seems to be in decline in my own area.

Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) - Filey Dams
In the same area, to the left of Main Hide, where the Tree Sparrows were showing, Reed Bunting were also showing well. I spent quite some time photographing these. I only saw winter plumaged males.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - Filey Dams
Out on the water, in front of Main Hide, Little Grebe, Pochard, and Gadwall gave reasonable photographic opportunities.

Pochard (Aythya ferina) (male) + Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Filey Dams

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Filey Dams
Gadwall (Anus strepera) (female + male) - Filey Dams
Gadwall (Anus strepera) (male) - Filey Dams
Greylag Geese were resting on the grass in front of Main Hide, but they did take to the water too at one point.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Filey Dams
Also resting on the grass in front of Main Hide was a female Pochard.

Pochard (Aythya ferina) (female) - Filey Dams
From the right hand side of the hide, I noticed a warbler. It didn't do me the favour of uttering any sort of sound but, from its appearance, I think that it's a Chiffchaff, rather than a Willow Warbler. Please correct me if you think that I'm wrong.

Chiffchaff? (Phylloscopus collybita) - Filey Dams
I did spend a while round at East Pool Hide, but only Shelduck arrived within photographable distance. 

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) (female) - Filey Dams
After the session here, I headed off to Reighton Sands to look for fossils, but didn't have much luck. It seemed logical, therefore, to return to Filey Dams for a while, in the hope of seeing an early Barn Owl before I had to go and pick up Lindsay at the end of her session, 15 minutes away.

On return to Filey Dams, I was told that I'd missed the Barn Owl by ten minutes!! I hung on in hope, but it didn't reappear. I did, however, take a few shots of Dunnock and Wren at the right hand side of Main Hide, although the light was poor by now, and the images not so good.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - Filey Dams

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Filey Dams
I went off to pick up Lindsay, who'd had an absolutely splendid time at The Stained Glass Centre, and was very careful not to be too enthusiastic about my own day!


I'd like to draw your attention to a recent post I made to The Owlers Blog Network (link by clicking on the banner on the right of this blog, or here). It features a nest-cam which overlooks a Great Horned Owl nest in USA, in which there are two owlets. Check it out quickly as they may be gone soon! 

Thank you for dropping by.

Monday 2 March 2015

Orange Chaffinch !!!!! - on 2nd March, 2015

A totally different blog post to that originally envisaged!!

Sitting in our conservatory today, having my lunch between painting sessions (decor rather than artistic), my eye was suddenly caught by what looked like a bright orange Chaffinch! I saw it for less than a second before something spooked the fifty or so birds in the garden and they were off.

I hung around for a while hoping it would return and eventually gave up and went into my study to sort out a couple of things prior to starting the painting again. Suddenly it was there again, at the top end of my garden, about 8 metres away. My camera was to hand but, by the time I'd picked it up, it had its back to me.

Sadly, I never got a side-on shot, or even a frontal shot. It was soon spooked again and after an hour or so, I had to give up and get on with things.

At first I though that this was a strangely coloured male Chaffinch, but I now think it might be a female.

This was no trick of the light. Side-on the bird looked almost entirely orange - not the pinky colour of a male Chaffinch. Note that the rump is very orange, rather than the usual green.The bill is normal grey. I note that it is missing the toes from the right foot - left foot appears to be OK.

Does anyone have any ideas what is going on here, please? And before someone suggests that I lost control of the paint pot, I've been using brilliant white!

UPDATE: Alan Wallace has stated (see 'comments' below) that this is almost certainly a Chaffinch with a red pigmentation aberration, the technical term for which is erythrism. Thank you for this information, Alan.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (aberrant) - our garden on 2nd March, 2015
I'm currently heading into an even busier situation, and so it is entirely possible that this will be my last post for a couple of weeks or so.

Thank you for dropping by. My apologies to all my fellow bloggers if I've been a bit too preoccupied to visit your blogs recently.