Subspecies identification of Common Chiffchaffs wintering at Nigg Bay, North-east Scotland, in 2016/17

Published on 08 July 2018 in Main articles

By Mark Lewis, Alex Penn and Martin Collinson

Abstract A notable gathering of wintering Common Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita at Nigg Bay, North-east Scotland, forms the basis of this short paper. In addition to field observations, six of the seven birds were trapped and ringed, which facilitated sound recordings and/or genetic analysis of these individuals. A close examination of plumage characters suggested that six of the seven were most like ‘Siberian Chiffchaff’ P. c. tristis, but with minor deviations from ‘classic’ tristis. Data from sound recordings and DNA suggest that all six are best treated as tristis. The wider implications for subspecies identification of Chiffchaffs in Britain are discussed.

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In the field, this bird was extremely close to tristis but with minor yellow elements in fore-supercilium, and some olive on scapulars. Mark Lewis