Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Fun with Phylloscs

I managed to catch up with the then 'putative' tristis chiffchaff yesterday morning and again today.
Yesterday I was able to get much better recordings of this intriguing bird and while it doesn't give a classic Siberian chiffchaff call it certainly appears to be well within the range of variation.

I also got some better looks at the warbler and as it was often joined by two common chiffchaff the plumage differences were more than apparent.
Jeff Butcher got a couple of shots of it and one can see just how pale it is, with no hint of yellow in the underparts (bottom picture).

I managed a few iffy record shots this morning too (attached) and it's amazing how different it can appear in varying light conditions. It does, however always appear pale and washed out.
When seen against a dark background (such as feeding on unvegetated earth) it looks almost grey and white with some notagble olive tones in the wing, rump and tail - almost Bonelli's warbler-like!
Similarly, when in grass or perched in brambles etc, it can seem all plain pale browns.
Of note; yesterday it called frequently, especially when it was on its own whereas today when it was mostly with the two collybitas it called just twice in a 2.5 hour period.

General consensus is that it is indeed a Siberian chiffchaff. Thanks to Chris Batty & Pete Marsh for their comments.

Pic by Jeff Butcher
Adding a bit of further interest today, was a Cetti's warbler. While I was watching the Sibe chiffchaff I heard the Cetti's calling from the base of the hedge and got brief but clear looks as it made its way along just above the water line. This is only the second record of this species for Aldcliffe; the first was in October, just 30 metres away from the location of today's bird. Has it been here, undetected, all along? Probably.
A kingfisher perched in the hedge by the flooded cycletrack was another addition to the yearlist.


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