Sunday 15 January 2012

Chiffchaffs at Helston sewerage works

Chiffchaffs seem to be the flavour of the month with good numbers at various popular sites in Cornwall.  The photos below were all taken at Helston last week where I counted about twenty.  (At nearby Carnon Downs sewerage works, Mark Grantham ringed forty birds).  Included among the twenty are a couple of paler tristis type birds.  Tony Blunden also mentioned to me that they responded positively to song.  The upper two images are standard, warmer more olive coloured Chiffchaff and the lower three are the paler tristis type.


  1. The 'tristis' seem to have quite a bit of yellow tone in the mantle/wing coverts and supercilium, and the legs don't look particularly dark. With the heavy green wing edgings and very pale underparts they look like a grey-white chiffchaff rather than a brown-buff type. Photos are a nightmare with these birds though! Do you have any photos in more neutral light?

  2. I agree with the above comment and I also think that the amount of yellowish in the bill of these birds casts some doubt on their identification as tristis.

  3. Thanks for the positive comments. The shots were taken in intensive winter sunshine and this does make a difference to colour tones. I am intending to revisit in dull light and the difference in colour tones will be obvious. Curiously, the images on the screen look warmer than they did in reality on the day. The colour tones also look very similar to the Clennon Valley, Devon bird last month though this one also was put down as a tristis type. A tricky family!