Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

The common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) is a widespread leaf warbler. It is very similar in appearance to the willow warbler (P. trochilus) mentioned previously on Sciencebase. The chiffchaff’s legs are dark rather than pale, it is a slightly more compact bird than the willow warbler and has a more rounded head and shorter wings. It is their songs that sets apart these two avian cousins. Whereas the willow warbler warbles with a melodic, song, the chiffchaff makes an almost metronomic “chiff, chaff, chiff, chaff, chiff, chaff” sound…to my ear it’s actually more of a regular “t’ss, t’ss, t’ss, t’ss”. Not to be confused with the two-tone (but not metronomic) call of the great tit (Parus major).

There are lots of chiffchaffs around in the summer adding their song to the leafy symphony of many a woodland. They are quite hard to spot and unless you hear them sing (which you will) you might mistake a willow warbler (see above). They’re often perched high up, but this one was at head height in Rampton Spinney darting back and forth and singing loudly when it sat still for a moment or two and posed for photographs.