6th February

Portland Bill Common Scoter 6w, Chiffchaff 1.

Weston Siberian Chiffchaff 1.

Ferrybridge Pale-bellied Brent 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 6.

Today's instalment of feather sample results concerns Portland's first genetically confirmed Scandinavian Chiffchaff P. c. abietinus - an individual trapped at the Obs on 26th October last year © Martin Cade:

In bygone times Scandinavian Chiffchaffs were considered routine and at times even quite numerous passage migrants at Portland but the folk in white coats have turned that conventional wisdom on its head, with their genetic studies showing that they're pretty scarce if not quite downright rare visitors to this part of the world (20 have been confirmed from c400 Chiffchaffs sampled in the UK, whilst a Dutch study identified 22 amongst a sample of 515 Chiffchaffs). These studies have also revealed that external features and voice offer no help when it comes to picking out a Scandinavian Chiffchaff - to all intents and purposes they're outwardly indistinguishable from nominate collybita Chiffchaff. For what it's worth, 'our' Scandinavian bird presumably conveyed an at least slightly subtly different look or feel for us to have taken the trouble to photograph it and retain a dislodged feather, but quite what our precise thought process was isn't immediately apparent from these photographs that appear to depict a bird that falls well within the cornucopia of Chiffchaff variation we're all too well accustomed to. As usual, many thanks indeed to Professor Martin Collinson and his team at the University of Aberdeen for their help.