Thursday, 5 March 2015

Chaffinch - Out of Africa?

I couldn't make it to Newport with scillyspider yesterday but armed with a rough location of the possible African Chaffinch, I decided to give it an hour or two, three or four! It turned into FIVE! No newspaper to distract me either and as for the Chicken - Kris there really is one or several in a nearby garden!!

I didn't fancy carrying the big lens about either given the urban surroundings / school / playground but quickly changed my mind when after 90 mins or so of searching and waiting, the damn thing flew into a nearby garden tree! I wasn't expecting it to be such a 'looker' and couldn't believe my luck when I returned from the car with camera and it was still on the same branch....

Partly hidden by twigs and distant :-(  Initially, I thought it looked good for 'African' in the field (brain no doubt clouded by how 'different' it was!) but hardly got a close look at the time and now reviewing the images, the underside looks really pale - white in fact and not exactly the pale pink I was expecting..... I can't believe it's the light. This appearance seems to be consistent with other historic British 'possibles' I've found online which were ultimately rejected!

Anyway, here are a few record shots so that folk can make their own minds up whether to travel and see it! (* see access notes below!!!) It's a smart bird but.......

Eventually, I sensed it was about to fly, giving a chance of seeing the tail pattern?

Not so much fly as plummet..... Tail pattern looks interesting?

The only close encounter came at 4pm (three sightings in nearly 5 hours!)

And then sadly into the light!

* from Martyn Owen County Recorder......

An unusual looking chaffinch, showing some of the characteristics of African Chaffinch (F.c. spodiogenys), was reported earlier this week.  This bird was present in a private garden, with no access.  Following a visit to the area, the bird has also been seen in publically accessible areas and as such information on the location can now be released.  It should be noted however that parking is limited in the area, and a school and childrens play area area also present.  It is understood that the best parking option is a small area in Chester Road, beyond the Deer Park estate leading out of Newport.  The rugby club may also be an option, although no discussions have taken place. Observers are requested to park sensibly, and ensure that the privacy of local residents is respected.

The bird was initially reported in the garden of 41 Fallow Deer Lawn, TF10 7JF, it has been seen in the location shown ('favoured trees') in the below map, viewed from the location shown.  Patience is required to see the bird and views are restricted, seed has been placed at the location shown in the hope that it will move to this area occasionally.  It would be beneficial if observers replenish the seed in this area occasionally.

Confirmation of sub-species would require excellent photographs, particularly showing the tail pattern and sound recordings - observers are asked to try and obtain these if at all possible.

Inline images 1

Martyn Owen
Shropshire County Bird Recorder
tel: 01746 780336
mob: 07736 286675

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