30 October 2012

Northern Chiffchaffs in Pembrokeshire

Pale, monochromatic grey-brown chiffchaffs of the Scandinavian race 'abietinus' are probably regular in Pembs in autumn with some wintering, along with 'collybita' birds,  in regular places such as Monk Haven.

Variation in individual 'collybita' birds means that caution should be exercised in claiming 'abietinus' birds, yet there are clear groups of records in autumn associated with the occurence of other species such as Yellow-browed Warbler which make it a relatively safe exercise. These conditions existed in late October 2012 and led to a cluster of records at St Davids Hd, Porth Clais, DaleVillage and St Brides.

As well as this, at least in my view, enough wintering birds have been seen, often in association with 'collybita' Chiffchaffs, to feel quite secure about claiming them as 'abietinus'. Hopefully more will be recorded and photographed. And to add some spice, Siberian Chiffchaff ('tristis') is most likely to be discovered in similar circumstances.

'abietinus' Chiffchaff St Davids Hd 26th October 2012
photo: Mark Hipkin

Other 'washed out' Chiffchaffs were recorded at, for instance, Bardsey during this period and assigned to both 'abietinus' and 'tristis'. 

'abietinus' Chiffchaff Porth Clais 26th October 2012
photo: Mark Hipkin

More observations and photos would definitely be good, maybe starting this winter in  sheltered valleys and sewage treatment works?

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