On a related note here is a mixed singing Willow Warbler / Chiffchaff recorded at Woolmer Forest, Hampshire, May 2013. Click here

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Mixed singing Phylloscopus Warblers

Apparent Hybrid, Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) X Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sandy Point, Hayling Island, Hampshire, Spring 2014
Click here for a sound clip of this birds song

The presumed Hybrid chiffchaff arrived in mid March and remains on territory
singing daily at the time of writing in mid April.

Andy Johnson who found this bird and has observed it almost daily during its stay
has made or agreed with the following statements.

· The sandy point bird's song has remained consistent since its arrival.

· It's song consistently contains elements comparable to Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) song

· The bird includes elements in its song which are much like the familiar Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) song, not always but either routinely or when it is agitated and using a conflict song in clashes with local or migrant Common Chiffchaffs. Iberian Chiffchaff’s conflict song is reported to be much like the familiar song of Common Chiffchaff. (It also does a conflict song in reaction to people in close proximity!)

· This bird has been heard to call ‘hweet’ as Common Chiffchaff

· The consistent ibericus elements in the birds song are surely too embedded to dismiss this bird as a ‘Common’ Chiffchaff that has come into contact with Iberian Chiffchaffs on migration and, for some reason, ‘impersonates’ their song.

· The consistent ibericus elements in this bird’s song are too much like Iberian Chiffchaff to dismiss the bird as a Common Chiffchaff with an aberrant song.

· The bird delivers a consistent song that contains elements that can be likened to the song of both species but that cannot be attributable solely to either one species, most likely because it is a hybrid.

Click here for a sound clip of this birds song

The appearance of this bird may or may not help to ascertain its parentage. However below I have added a few other photos in the hope that they may add something. I would welcome comments!

Richard Ford - with thanks to Andy Johnson

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita),
Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus)
or something else!

For anyone interested in the Sandy Point, Chiffchaff of Spring 2014
or indeed mixed singers and hybrids I'd recommend a read of this article.

Click here for the source artical

Here are a few quotes from it and some food for thought:

"The ranges of Common and Iberian Chiffchaffs overlap in a narrow, 20-km zone in the western Pyrénées around the France/Spain and the two species hybridise.' 'and 8.6% of birds are mixed singers, giving song bursts that consist of elements of songs from both species"

And the two species have hybridised in Britain!

"Mixed singers have also been recorded from the breeding range of Iberian Chiffchaffs outside the hybrid zone"

"In the context of spring vagrancy, Iberian chiffchaff has two major song types: an advertising song used by males trying to attract a mate and a conflict song used primarily during antagonistic interactions with other males."

''The conflict song of Iberian is very similar to that of Common but the advertising song is more variable and contains song elements not used by Common Chiffchaff''

On site at Sandy point while reviewing my recordings, the Sandy point bird responded to a recording of its own Iberian type song by singing a Common Chiffchaff like song.

"As described above, the conflict song of Iberian Chiffchaff, given in response to, for example, a rival male, is very similar to the familiar 'chiff chaff chiff chaff ' of Common Chiffchaff. The definition of 'mixed singer' is reserved for those birds that use song elements characteristic of both Iberian and Common Chiffchaff within a
single advertising song."

The Sandy Point bird clearly does.

"These birds might sing songs similar to those of collybita or ibericus; more than three song motifs in an 'Iberian' song may be a clue that the bird is a mixed singer (Salomon & Hemim 1992; Marc Salomon pers. comm.), and any Iberian-type chiffchaff habitually singing songs more than four seconds long is suspect."

The second burst of song in the above recording can be timed at just under 7 seconds.

"Common Chiffchaff-like elements within the songs of an Iberian Chiffchaff may represent normal elements of the conflict song of the latter, and may also represent shared 'ancestral' or primitive song elements that are retained, to some degree, in both species"

I find these birds very interesting and would welcome comments!

Please do have a read of the source artical here

On a related note here is a mixed singing Willow Warbler / Chiffchaff i recorded at Woolmer Forest, Hampshire, May 2013. Click here

Richard Ford