Saturday, April 05, 2008

Look out... Iberian Chiffchaff... we're on your case.

While obviously not wanting to blow my own trumpet, again(!), I'll advertise the magnificent monthly bird magazine British Birds ('the leading journal for the modern birder in the Western Palearctic').

This month's issue contains, after a biologically impossible gestation in a pile of 'assorted stuff' on my desktop, my paper on Iberian Chiffchaff. Don't worry Ibe Chiffy... you
do exist, you're not extinct and you can be easily recorded and videoed by conventional techniques of people going out and looking at you.

In the April issue of British Birds:

Identification of Wilson’s and Common Snipe
Martin Reid gets to grips with one of the thorniest of current ID problems. In recent years, a number of putative Wilson Snipes Gallinago gallinago delicata – the American counterpart of our own Common Snipe – on Scilly have generated considerable interest and debate. Several features have been proposed to help separate delicata from nominate gallinago but little has been published to quantify these characters. All criteria previously suggested are reviewed in this paper and, based upon field experience, museum specimens and photographs of both forms, their effectiveness discussed. Consistent differences were found in the depth of the white tips to the secondaries, extent of white on the underwing-coverts, pattern of the axillaries, number of tail feathers, and the pattern and width of the outermost tail feather. The paper reaches the conclusion that - if supporting evidence documenting these features is obtained - separation of gallinago and delicata should be possible in many instances.

Identification of vagrant Iberian Chiffchaffs – pointers, pitfalls and problem birds
Records of Iberian Chiffchaff in northern Europe are increasing. At the time of writing, all British records have been singing males. In this paper, Martin Collinson and Tim Melling present sonograms of some accepted and potential Iberian Chiffchaffs from Britain. The characteristics of Iberian Chiffchaff song that can be used for identification of vagrants are reviewed. A record of a bird at Skelmersdale, Lancashire, in 2004, is thought unlikely to have been an Iberian Chiffchaff, but another bird, a mixed singer at Dibbinsdale, Merseyside, also in 2004, may be acceptable. The vocalisations of an accepted Iberian Chiffchaff in Oxfordshire in 2000 are now considered not to be absolutely typical. A problematic bird at Lavenham, Suffolk, in 2007 is also discussed and thought not to be acceptable.

A large selection of Notes and Letters in this issue includes items on Breeding Slavonian Grebes in Scotland and the first evidence of British-ringed Honey-buzzards returning to the UK to breed. In letters, BOURC are taken to task over their assessment of the Cheshire Kermadec Petrel, while other topics range from Balearic Sherwaters in Britain to the naming of Lammergeier, via breeding Woodchat Shrikes in Britain…

Book reviews, news & comment, BBRC news and recent reports make up the remainder of the issue.

See the British Birds website at for full details of current and back issues, and to download a sample copy of BB.


Stephen Menzie said...

That Chiffie paper looks good on glossy paper ;-)

Martin said...

It looks even better naked in a bath of jelly.

Stephen Menzie said...

What doesn't?!

Martin said...

What doesn't?!

Jimmy Savile springs to mind.

darrell j prest said...

it made my brain hurt!!;)