EVERY WEEK THIS YEAR WE WILL HAVE NEW SUGGESTIONS FOR A DIFFERENT GROUP OF BIRDS TO LOOK FOR TO HELP DEVELOP YOUR #MY200BIRDYEAR LIST
This week, it is Leaf Warblers
There are three breeding leaf warblers ie in the genus Phylloscopus) in the UK: Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler and Chiffchaff. We also have an increasing amount of Yellow-browed Warblers which pass through on passage from September to November. The other species are too rare to consider here…
With more than 2.4 million pairs across the whole of the UK, the little Willow Warbler is one of our commonest and most widespread warblers. It is sort of greenish borwn with a hinto of yellow and very similar to the Chiffchaff. To distinguish them, voice is very usefu. They have completely different songs: the Willow Warbler has a sweet descending warbling ditty while the Chiffchaff repeats its name with clipped tones. The calls are closer, but Willows have a more disyllabic, drawn out ‘hooeet’ (rather than ‘hweet’). Willow Warblers are longer winged, dip their tails less frequently and can look quite clean and yellow in autumn (fresh adults and first-winter birds); and they have a better defined supercilium (pale line over the eye)
Very similar to the Willow Warbler but with a preference for more mature habitats in the breeding season. Some Chiffchaffs winter in the UK and they tend to arrive earlier in the spring and leave later in the autumn. See Willow Warbler for distinguishing features. Suffice to say if you see a scruffy looking, tail dipping hweeting, plain, greeny brown warbler this autumn it is probably a Chiffchaff.
The sexiest of the three ‘Willow Wren’ species, as they used to be regarded. Mainly a norther and western bird, the Wood Warbler is an exotic looking gem compared to the other common leaf warblers. The green is greener, the yellow of the supercilium, throat and upper breast pure as a lemon and the belly silver white. The wings are so long they nearly reach the tail tip. The call is an odd ‘pew’ and the song famously sounds like someone spinning a silver sixpence on a plate…
Almost as small as a Goldcrest, the Yellow-browed Warbler is a gorgeous little passage migrant from the east. Bright green above and white below with a bold and long yellow-washed supercilium and two obvious transverse wingbars and pale tips to the tertials. Best picked up by its thin, almost Coal Tit-like, slurred ‘pseeooeet’ call.
All photos from Alamy