Friday, April 17, 2015


On a recent lunchtime run I noticed that the Springtime clock had started ticking, "chiff chaff, chiff chaff..." With the arrival of the first migrating warblers the countdown to Summer and warmer days had begun.
But try as I might I could not locate the tiny olivey warbler as I plodded up a hill. The Chiffchaff was singing somewhere in the tops of some trees across a field and birdwatching while running is never an easy prospect. So I contented myself with enjoying the metronomic song of this early migrant confident in the knowledge that I would see one quite soon. But this pattern repeated itself over the next few days as I continued my marathon training. Chiffchaffs were singing from nearly every copse and woodland, but I didn't even get a glimpse; this was getting silly. But last Friday I decided to venture out to my local patch on the Wirral coast, not for Chiffchaffs, but to try and see a Ring Ouzel; up to four had been reported during the day, how could I fail to see one?
But these enigmatic collared thrushes had melted into the fields by the time I arrived and no amount of diligent searching was going to produce a sighting. Naturally, consolation was had by my first actual sighting of a Chiffchaff, although the grey skies were not conducive to brilliant photography. And another bonus was a small party of Wheatears in a horse paddock, these were also a "first" for the year for me, although too distant for even a "record" photo.
Interestingly, the first Chiffchaff I saw last year was in January at Burton Marsh and was deemed to be a Siberian Chiffchaff. There were quite a few Chiffchaffs at that site early last year, some showing the full suite of plumage characteristics to be identified as "Siberian", but also one or two that were definitely Common Chiffchaffs. But the best diagnostic feature is the monosyllabic call. But birders love a good challenge and it is all part of a continuing learning curve for everyone interested in avian taxonomy.

Common Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff


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