Spring warblers and butterflies

Sunday April 5th. I went for a walk on the 1066 path towards the A21. The weather was lovely. I really wanted to see if I could tell the difference between Chiffchaff & Willow Warbler. I was in the field  near the footbridge on the path diversion. There was Chiffchaff calling & I got a good view using the binoculars. There was another similar bird lower in the undergrowth but not making a sound & I did get a good view of its pale legs. I believe this was a Willow Warbler.

Suddenly another bird appeared about 12 feet away. It was a male Blackcap. It started to preen & continued to do so for the next 20 minutes. It then moved even closer to where I was standing. It looked very handsome in the late afternoon light.

Easter Monday. We saw a Small Tortoiseshell & Brimstone butterfly in the  garden.


Yes it can be tricky trying to separate Willow Warbler from Chiffchaff if it’s not singing!  Judging by the leg colour alone, however, can be unreliable since Chiffchaff legs sometimes appear quite pale, though not usually as obviously pale as on a Willow Warbler.

As well as having pale legs, a Willow Warbler has more yellowy green tones in the plumage, a longer supercilium (pale stripe over the eye), and longer wings, all of which should ideally be seen in combination to be certain, unless of course it’s a male bird in full song!  We would wonder if a silent bird in spring found below a singing male Chiffchaff might be its mate, if not a Willow Warbler.

It is still a bit on the early side for arriving Willow Warblers although very small numbers have just begun to make an appearance in the last day or two judging from various bird news web pages.

We highly recommend this BTO video to anyone if not seen already “Getting to grips with warblers 1: Chiffchaff vs Willow Warbler”

Ralph — Dave

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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

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