15th May

Migrants were a good deal harder to come by on the ground today with a combination of the lateness in the season and the onset of fine, summery conditions seeing to it that interest dwindled. Considerable toil did eventually come up with a fair bit of variety, even if the numbers - passing hirundines aside - were less than impressive, with single Turtle Doves at the Bill and Southwell, an overflying Grey Plover at Barleycrates Lane and a seemingly incoming Little Egret at the Bill being the best on offer. Amongst the ones of twos of typical mid-May fare there were slightly better totals of 40 Wheatears, 10 Willow Warblers, 9 Whinchats, 6 Sedge Warblers and 4 Yellow Wagtails scattered about the southern half of the island. With what breeze there was veering into the east sea interest picked up a little, with 41 Common Scoter, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 each of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua, and singles of Teal and Great Skua through off the Bill, another Arctic Skua lingering offshore there all day and another Great Northern Diver through over Ferrybridge.

Chiffchaff - Easton, 14th May 2014 © Martin Cade

...we didn't have enough time last night to edit and upload these images and video of a peculiar 'mixed singing' Chiffchaff that we stumbled across at Easton yesterday evening. We didn't have proper recording gear with us at the time but the bird was so close that some of the variation in song is captured fairly well on the soundtrack of the video. The most alarming feature of the encounter was that we tried playing recordings of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff to it and the only one that elicited any response at all was the recording of Iberian Chiffchaff: on every one of the half-a-dozen or so times we tried it the bird flew straight out of the trees (we left a tiny sequence of one of these events on the end of the video clip when the recording of Iberian Chiffchaff can be heard in the background) and skimmed low overhead - what can be read into that is anyone's guess. Although the bird clearly had some 'interesting' plumage features we did hear it call several times and the calls were always typical Chiffchaff.
Just for comparison, here are a couple of vintage recordings of the famous Verne Common Iberian Chiffchaff of spring 1999 (we only had cassette tape recordings of it so have digitalized them for playback here; according to the long-faded biro annotation on the tape the two recordings were made by Keith Vinicombe and Richard Newton who we hope won't mind us taking the liberty of making them available here):