Chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

[Common Chiffchaff] (pp.214–215)

Selected new records

 

Earliest and latest since 2006 (last year covered in full by The Birds of Lundy): Earliest 4 Mar 2013 (one); Latest 19 Nov 2009 (two). Excludes presumed wintering birds seen in mid to late-Dec in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2016, in Jan/Feb 2019 and in early Feb 2011.

 

Photo: Chiffchaff on Lundy, Oct 2013 © Richard Campey

2007

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

13 Apr - One in Millcombe showed characteristics of the Fennoscandian race P. c. abietinus (A. Jayne). Record accepted by DBRC.

1 Nov - One in Millcombe showed characteristics of the Fennoscandian race P. c. abietinus (A. Jayne). Record subject to acceptance by DBRC.

2008

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

12 to 22 Oct – Single birds showing characteristics of the Fennoscandian race P. c. abietinus were seen in Gannets' Combe on 12 Oct (A.L. Cooper) and along the East Side between Quarter Wall Copse and St Helen's Copse from 19 to 21 Oct (C.A. Holt et al.), with at least two birds present in the same area from 22-24 Oct (T. Bedford et al.). One showing characteristics of the Siberian race P. c. tristis was also seen along the East Side on 21 & 22 Oct (C.A. Holt, K. Rylands et al.). Details of the latter bird have been submitted to BBRC, which is conducting a review of the status of P. c. tristis in Britain.

Winter record

22 to 24 Dec – One.

2010

Confirmed breeding

A pair was seen carrying food in Millcombe on 30 May and singing males were holding territory in the Beach Road copse below Hanmers, Millcombe, St Helen’s Copse and Quarter Wall Copse during the first week of Jun. A pair was also seen carrying nesting material in Millcombe. Adults were seen feeding young in Lower Millcombe on 15 & 16 Jul. This is the first record of confirmed breeding since 1994, but it is thought that other breeding attempts during the intervening years may have been missed due to low observer coverage in summer.

Winter record

29 Dec – One.

2011

Winter record

1 to 6 Feb – What was presumably a single individual, was first reported on 1 Feb, then daily from 4 to 6 Feb – the first Jan or Feb record for the island since 1989.

Notable autumn-passage count

4 Oct – A major overnight arrival of 300 Chiffchaffs (along with similar numbers of Blackcaps and 100 Goldcrests), constituted one of the highest autumn-passage counts on record for Lundy.

2012

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

23 Oct – One trapped and ringed in Millcombe, during a period of easterly winds, showed characteristics of one of the eastern races, perhaps P. c. tristis. Shed feathers were retained for DNA and isotope analysis. Initial results indicate that the bird was indeed a ‘Siberian Chiffchaff’ P. c. tristis, but further studies are being conducted.

Winter record

27 Dec – One.

2013

Exceptional autumn-passage count

5 Oct – A fall, coinciding with a major arrival of Goldcrests, Blackcaps and other migrants, brought an exceptional 500+ to the island, of which 49 were ringed.

As of July 2020, this remains the highest number (spring or autumn) recorded on Lundy since The Birds of Lundy was published in 2007.

2014

Winter record

30 Dec – One.

2015

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

8 Jun – A very pale ‘washed out’-looking bird was in Millcombe. It showed almost no greenish or yellowish tones in its plumage, having largely khaki upperparts and whitish underparts, typical of Chiffchaffs from breeding populations in north-east Europe (Tim Jones).

2016

Exceptional spring-passage count

3 Apr – A count of 400 is, by some way, the highest spring total since The Birds of Lundy was published in 2007. This remains the case as of Jul 2020.

Breeding evidence

In late May a male was singing in Quarter Wall Copse and two birds were singing in Millcombe, where a pair was seen carrying nesting material. Two males continued to hold territory in Millcombe 7–11 Jun and at least one presumed female was present. Further singing males were heard in Quarter Wall Copse on 8 Jun and St Helen’s Copse on 9th & 10th. Whilst it seems likely that at least one breeding attempt was made, this remains unconfirmed.

Winter record

14 to 17 Dec – One was seen on three dates during this period.

2017

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

26 to 31 Oct – Singles showing characteristics of ‘Siberian’ Chiffchaff P. c. tristis were trapped and ringed in Millcombe on 26 & 27 Oct. Another was seen in lower Millcombe on 31 Oct. Records under review by DBRC, but Devon Birds policy is to ascribe individuals definitively to subspecies level only when supported by evidence from DNA analysis.

2018

Confirmed breeding

Jun – A pair was nest building in lower Millcombe on 6 Jun (Tim Davis & Tim Jones) and fledglings were seen in 'Smelly Gully' on 20 Jun (Dean Jones &
Zoë Barton), suggesting at least two breeding attempts were made.

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

Calling individuals showing characteristics of ‘Siberian’ Chiffchaff P.c. tristis were in Millcombe on 24 Oct (Ellie & Justin Zantboer) and 27 Oct (Dean Jones). Records accepted by Devon Bird Recorder. On the latter date, a probable ‘Siberian’ Chiffchaff was also seen near the Landing Shed (Dean Jones), but this bird unfortunately did not call – a feature required for acceptance by Devon Birds.

2019

Winter records

Jan to Mar – Between one and four overwintering birds were recorded during Jan and Feb, and into early Mar.

Confirmed breeding

Jun & Jul – Breeding was confirmed for three pairs: one was nest-building on the Terrace on 12 Jun (Chris Baillie); one was collecting food in the Terrace willows on 7 Jul (Dean Jones); an adult was feeding chicks in sycamores near the Battlements on 24 Jul (Dean Jones); and an adult was feeding very young chicks in Smelly Gully on 11 Aug – almost certainly a second brood but far too soon to be the same pair that were feeding young at the end of Jul (Dean Jones).

This is the third year in which successful breeding is known to have occurred since publication of The Birds of Lundy, following other confirmed instances in 2012 and 2018, and probable breeding in 2016.

Birds showing characteristics of northern or eastern races

Non-calling birds showing plumage typical of ‘Siberian’ Chiffchaff P. c. tristis were seen in Millcombe from 9 to 17 Jan, inclusive (Dean Jones) and on 5 & 6 Apr (Jo King, Philip Lymbery), and in bracken at Threequarter Wall Bay on 15 Oct (Andy Jayne). In line with the current policy of Devon Birds, which only accepts as ‘confirmed’ records of calling ‘Siberian’ Chiffchaff, these three occurrences have been accepted by the Devon Bird Recorder as ‘grey chiffchaffs’ (unidentified P. c. tristis/abietinus).

 

Ringing

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as an adult on Lundy, on 03 May 2008 (ring no. BCE900) was controlled at Hartland Point, Devon on 05 May 2008 (2 days; 22 km; SSE 151°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a first-year bird on Lundy, on 18 Sep 2010 (ring no. DER272) was controlled at Cruzihna Field Studies Centre, Mexilhoeira Grande, Algarve, Portugal (51 days; 1,593 km; SSW 192°) on 08 Nov 2010. This is the second Lundy-ringed Chiffchaff to be found in Portugal in November, but the first from the Algarve region. The timing makes it seem equally likely that the bird was either already in its wintering area or still on autumn migration.

Ringing recovery: A Chiffchaff ringed as a first-year bird on Vlieland, West Frisian Islands, The Netherlands, on 03 Oct 2011 (ring no. Arnhem AAN722) was found freshly dead (killed by a bird, probabl Water Rail), on Lundy on 15 Oct 2011 (12 days; 695 km; WSW 251°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a first-year bird at Nanjizal (near Land’s End), Cornwall on 12 Sep 2010 (ring no. DLX466) was controlled on Lundy on 25 Apr 2013 (956 days; 144 km; NNE 31°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a first-year bird on Skokholm, Pembrokeshire on 15 Sep 2014 (ring no. EXX834) was controlled on Lundy on 29 Sep 2014 (14 days; 74 km; SE 145°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a full-grown bird on Schiermonnikoog, West Frisian Islands, The Netherlands, on 09 Sep 2014 (ring no. Arnhem ACX038) was controlled on Lundy on 14 Apr 2015 (217 days; 780 km; WSW 251°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as an adult on Lundy on 28 Apr 2015 (ring no. HHC382) was controlled on Bardsey Island, Gwynedd on 14 & 15 Apr 2016 (352 days; 178 km; N 358°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a second calendar-year bird at Essex Farm, Alderney, Channel Islands on 29 Mar 2016 (ring no. Jersey 176388) was controlled on Lundy on 03 Apr 2016 (5 days; 238 km; NW 313°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a second calendar-year bird on Lundy on 04 Apr 2016 (ring no. HRC451) was controlled at High Bridge, Williton, Somerset on 06 Apr 2016 (2 days; 95 km; E 91°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as an adult at Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire on 17 May 2016 (ring no. HXK626) was controlled on Lundy on 10 Nov 2016 (177 days; 402 km; WSW 238°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a second-year bird at Nanjizal (near Land's End), Cornwall on 22 April 2017 (ring no. KDY004) was controlled on Lundy on 27 Apr 2017 (5 days; 144 km; NNE 31°).

Ringing control: A Chiffchaff ringed as a second calendar-year bird on Lundy on 20 Apr 2018 (ring no. KEH251) was controlled on Great Saltee Island, Wexford, Ireland on 28 Apr 2018 (8 days; 171 km; NW 309°).

 

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