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Friday, 3 June 2016

Willow Warbler Chiffchaff hybrid?

Male Red-backed Shrike trapped and ringed at Porth Hellick this morning

Early this morning Darren Mason called me to say he had a singing Marsh warbler at Bar Farm. I was on my ways when a few minutes larer I got a call from Jim 'Nice male Red-backed Shrike in the bag!' Which one do I go far? The shrike won! Although I've already seen a male Red-backed in the hand before, I guessed that the warbler would still be singing when I got there. However, after the shrike was being shown around, we all made our ways to Bar Farm and the Marsh warbler was nowhere to be seen or heard.

This is the second Red-backed Shrike so far this year

  Later in the day the Alpine Swift was at Lower Moors and briefly seen at Porth Hellick. Also the Red-backed Shrike was relocated at Carn Friers and that's where Martin and I saw it in the field distantly on top of a bush before disappearing. Just after 16.00 a Wryneck was found on the track to the Bio-Bubble at lower Moors. A few of us searched around but there was no sign of it and I also missed an exhausted late Spotted Flycatcher.

This male Pied Wagtail has been feeding on my works lawn for the last three days

Male Blackbird

  After work I made my ways to Trenowth hoping that this morning Marsh Warbler might be singing in the overgrown fields nearby. I flushed a female 'type' Golden Oriole from out of the Elms but no sign of the warbler. I could hear, what I first thought was a Willow Warbler at first, but as I got closer it would start singing like a Chiffchaff before breaking into part of a Willow Warbler and then returning to the sound of a Chiffchaff. Sometimes it would sing like a willow and then break through with chiffchaffing, then continuing back to a Willow again. I decided to record it and after a while, it came out in the open, but was always too far away for the camera. A Willow Warbler x Chiffcchaff maybe?

As you can see it looks more like a Chiffchaff with pale legs. It's also ringed on the right leg.

Here is a recording of the warbler. Although you can hear more of Willow Warbler, Although it's not spot on, shortly after recording this, it switched more towards Chiffchaff. Any comments welcome


Yesterday Mark Halliday let me know that the Alpine Swift was performing well at Porth Hellick.

This Swift showed briefly for comparison

Will Wagstaff can multi-task by climbing over a barbed wired fence while searching through his photos on his camera to see which ones he can delete! That's all of them then!

Most of us have to look through the viewfinder of the camera when taking pics. Joe Pender is so good at taking photos that he doesn't need no use a viewfinder!

Amelia Curran is a Canadian singer-songwriter. She was born and resides in St. John's. The National Post describes her music as “a bit like Leonard Cohen being channeled in a dusty saloon by Patsy Cline.”


  1. Here you go Spider get your teeth in to this lot ! :-)

  2. Hi Spider, there are two "mixed singers" on my Verwood patch this year, and having received input from various sources inc Mark Constantine, consensus is they are not hybrids but simply birds that have picked up both songs because of location when young (eg single pair of Chiffchaff in an area of mostly Willow Warblers).Cheers, Mark A

  3. Thanks Mark for the info. Yes quite a lot of people have said the same as you and put me on that link you attached. Thanks again