First (migrant) Chiffchaff of 2019

We heard an over-wintering Chiffchaff (at RSPB Titchwell on New Year’s Day this year, but today (18th March) I’ve just heard and seen the first one that has migrated from Africa for the summer. It was calling with its plaintive, sound-of-the summer, onomatopeic, metronomic and instantly recognisable tss-tss-ttt-tss-ttt-tss-tss-tss call.

Snapped it quickly in Rampton Spinney as it was darting from tree to tree and calling in between. The Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) is a warbler and almost identical to the Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), which I think I may have heard briefly on the opposite of this woodland at the beginning of my walk today. Very another sound-of-the-summer.

This is the call of the Chiffchaff. The first sound is the actual recording I made and it’s as you’d hear the bird in woodland or elsewhere. The bird usually repeats its chiff-chaff 11 to 14 times (in my original records, I’ve got 11 on one and 13 on a second sequence).

The second sound you hear in the video is that of the same bird’s call time stretched (slowed down) by about four times and then the frequency halved to take it down an octave in pitch. It reveals otherwise hidden detail in the bird’s call as well as allowing you to hear the echoing of the song from the trees of the woodland. The normal recording sounds cheery and chipper, the slowed down version rather more plaintive and melancholic, perhaps even eerie.