Out with the chaff


It was fantastic when Alison said she’d heard the first chiffchaff a few weeks ago down at Idle Valley Nature Reserve.  Since then we’ve been on a mission to see one.  Lo and behold, the Sunday after, we heard one and followed the song, eventually catching sight and managing to get a few pictures.  (Mission accomplished!)

The bird actually repeats its name, “chiffchaff chiffchaff” from high on a branch, often in willow trees.


This gorgeous little greeny-yellow bird with buff underside will often bob its tail while performing, and this is one thing, in addition to its call, that distinguishes it from the very similar willow warbler.  During migration it will appear commonly in bushy areas, by the coast or close to lakes and reservoirs, especially quite late in Autumn.

Late March usually brings the first ones to our local areas, but the mild weather seems to have brought these birds a little earlier this year.  To get these pictures early in March is a great achievement for us!


For the last few years, during the spring and summer, we’ve been hearing a soft “hweet” in several different locations.  On chasing it around for a while, we found it was in fact the chiffchaff.

The nest is a grassy dome on or near the ground, usually packed with dead leaves.  6 or 7 eggs are laid in one brood around May and June.

The chiffchaff is doing quite well and is a secure species for the time being.  Since taking these pictures we’ve been hearing them everywhere!



All these pictures were taken in a local woodland area and around Idle Valley.  We also spotted one with a ring on, indicating that these birds are being monitored.  You might be able to spot the ring on the next photo:

chiffchaff ringed.JPG

So if you’re out walking, listen out for the “chiffchaff chiffchaff” song and see if you can spot one to add to your list.

We’re definitely chuffed with the chiffchaffs.



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