Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Toby's Chiffchaff

Looking at the fine photos posted by Toby below, I have no doubt that he has one Siberian Chiffchaff there. The brown/grey tones with some yellow/green in the wing, 'tobacco' wash on ear coverts, black bare parts etc can be well seen. I've looked at lots this last year or two and discussed these birds in the field and from photographs with many active and experienced birders and I think the consensus is that Sibes are what they are (backed up by DNA evidence at times eg in Bedfordshire last winter) and they are not uncommon in most parts of England in winter. The wing quivering response to a tape, mentioned by Toby, is interesting and echoes the behaviour of one at Monk Haven a couple of years ago. What makes an 'abietinus' bird is less clear but I have seen it suggested it needs have pale ear coverts, I don't know. At least one of the (DNA confirmed) Beds birds called like 'collybita' late in its stay suggesting that vocalisation is not the be all and end all either. Nice one Toby - cracking birds!