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Siberian Chiffchaff? (1 Viewer)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I went to see the reported Siberian Chiffchaff at Sandhurst sewage farm yesterday afternoon. Along with a bunch of Common Chiffchaffs that were all calling (the "Sibe" wasn't and reportedly hadn't in the last 2 hours at least) it was showing pretty well in the oaks and willows on the SF side of the river Blackwater.

While a very obviously different bird, I'm not at all sure that it meets the new criteria for tristis. I'd only taken bins with me so may have been unable to see subtleties in the plumage.

I saw: a pale bird, with off-white underparts greying at the sides of the upper breast. Upperworks seemingly clear grey, no wing bars. Big whitish supercilium, dark line through eye, no clear recollection of ear coverts so not a prominent pattern to them. Bill/legs black.

I didn't see: brown tones to any of the upperparts, or suggestions of brownish on the flanks, warm buff on supercilium.

My impression was much more of Eastern abietinus than tristis. Anyone else been to see the bird and got more on it, or got an opinion on my observations?

John
 
Hello John,

I'd be careful of calling any bird a tristis if I didn't see a wing-bar or hear the distinctive call. although the call and overall Grey colour alone might convince me without wing-bar. I presume there are some measurement differences too?

We get many records of tristis in Shetland every year, many which fit the plumage criteria closely, but as I've yet to see the wing-bar and hear the call, I don't reckon I've seen a guaranteed Sibe Chiff yet!
 
Hello John,

I'd be careful of calling any bird a tristis if I didn't see a wing-bar or hear the distinctive call. although the call and overall Grey colour alone might convince me without wing-bar. I presume there are some measurement differences too?

We get many records of tristis in Shetland every year, many which fit the plumage criteria closely, but as I've yet to see the wing-bar and hear the call, I don't reckon I've seen a guaranteed Sibe Chiff yet!

I don't think the wing-bar is diagnostic. Siberian Chiffchaff should me more brown than grey on the upper-parts shouldn't they?
 
I don't think the wing-bar is diagnostic. Siberian Chiffchaff should me more brown than grey on the upper-parts shouldn't they?


Beats the hell out of me! seems like they've been changing the id criteria???

I thought a washed out grey looking bird with wing-bars and diagnostic call were the best signs.

Anyone know the latest diagnostic features to look for?
 
Rigth, I went back on Saturday for more of the Sandhurst Sibechaff, and I'm now a lot more convinced by it.

This time it was showing low over the River Blackwater on willow twigs and I got some decent photos of it (usual problem - can't use work internet to get them on here.)

With it not up against the sky the colours were less washed out and I could see the brownish wash over much of the grey upperparts, especially on the crown: also away from the very strong light the super was buffish and not the silvery-white of the underparts. There was a suggestion of brownish to the fringes of the flight feathers: no olive tones anywhere that I could see.

It persisted in not calling despite the presence of half a dozen Common Chiffhcaffs which were all calling and some singing. Also it didn't go near or interact with the other Chiffs whereas a couple of times I had two of them chasing each other.

John
 
I found this candidate for sibe chiff-chaff in my garden a couple of weeks back.

Seems to meet all the criteria and it was very vocal.

More pictures of this bird here
 

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I think it's an impossible misson, For Tristis, you gotta see and hear the poor thing..

I mark them as ChiffChaff, never going into SIberian, too hard.

//Ben
 
I don't know if you can call the call a clincher, as AFAIK mixed singers may also call like pure tristis (of course unless you think that mixed singers are also pure tristis...). On the other hand, I don't know if you could call any feature a real clincher, as the interpretation colour tones seems to be a bit arbitrary to me.
 
AFAIK passerines learn their song, so it doesn't tell anything about their parents and mixed singers could be either species or hybrids.
 
AFAIK passerines learn their song, so it doesn't tell anything about their parents and mixed singers could be either species or hybrids.

I think this is perhaps too strongly put, for example the majority of the mixed singing Iberian/Common Chiffchaffs have been found out to be hybrids. A pure individual might also be a mixed singer, but the probability for that is lower. At least the Finnish RC doesn't consider a tristis-like call to be distinctive enough to verify identification (so far).
 
John
There were two tristis-type birds. It's not clear from what you say if you saw the one we wrote up and got accepted by BBRC. Had you come back in March you would have seen the tristis in partial moult and a perfect set of ticked boxes (it was singing by the time it left)
\if you pm the photos you took I'll let you know which bird you took
btw there are two tristis at Dorney at the momnet (both passed by the county recorder)
 
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