Siberian chiffchaff is Arran first

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Bird Notes by Jim Cassels

On Saturday 13 November in a garden in Sliddery a small bird was trapped, ringed, photographed, identified, and released by licensed bird ringers, Chris Southall and Rachel Dobson.

It was a chiffchaff. The legs were black, but they noticed that it was a bit different from the familiar summer visiting chiffchaff.


As it was being extracted from the garden mist net, the general colour was browner and paler than the common chiffchaff.

For example, the flanks of this bird were whitish with no yellow tinge. All the main features of the bird are shown in the photo.

The Clyde Rarities Committee had no hesitation in recognising this record.

The bird in the hand was a Siberian chiffchaff. This is the first confirmed Arran record of this sub-species.


This photograph provided by Vincent van der Spek was taken in VRS Meijendel Wassenaar in Holland on 7 November 2009.

It gives a clear comparison between chiffchaff and Siberian chiffchaff. Chiffchaff (phylloscopus collybita; left) and Siberian chiffchaff (phylloscopus collybita tristis; right),

Siberian chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis is considered to be a a sub-species of the common chiffchaff phylloscopus collybita which is a familiar regular summer visitor to Arran. Some birds over-winter.

On the other hand, Siberian Chiffchaff breed in Siberia east of the Pechora River and usually winter in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and the lower Himalayas.

It is a rare visitor with small numbers occurring in late autumn in the UK. These birds have got ‘lost’ during migration.

Perhaps weather conditions have deflected them from their intended southerly migration.

Enjoy your birding and keep safe.

Please send any bird notes with ‘what, when, where’ to me at Kilpatrick Kennels, Kilpatrick, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8EY, or e mail me at jim@arranbirding.co.uk I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Report 2020 and the Arran Bird Report, the first 40 years. Plus visit the website http://www.arranbirding.co.uk/index.html

Chiffchaff with Siberian chiffchaff pictured together in Holland. Photo Vincent van der Spek