11th May 2019

Waking up each morning to the beautiful song of the Willow Warbler again, and having heard both this and the Chiffchaff singing on nearby Parkwood Springs I thought it was time to revisit these beautiful, elusive and similar-looking spring migrants. Chiffchaff arrive mid-March and Willow Warbler, migrating further, arrive in April. This difference in migration journeys also explains one of the visual differences, with Chiffchaffs having shorter wings and Willow Warblers, flying further, having longer primary feathers/wing length. Chiffchaff have dark legs while Willow Warblers have pale pinkish legs and a brighter eye-stripe. Since they are hard to see, the easiest way to tell them apart is by song- Chiffchaff singing a two note eponymous song, and Willow Warblers have a lovely long song ending with a downward trill. The BTO have a great little on-line video on telling them apart. (The photo’s of the Willow Warbler are from our garden, the Chiffchaff from Spurn).

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Conditions: Milder with sun and showers. Temperature: Max 13 Min 4C.

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8th October 2017

Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are hard to tell apart and both might be stopping off in your garden, like the Chiffchaff is in ours, filling up on their way south for winter migration. If you get the right view, you can see that Chiffchaff’s have dark legs, and, migrating shorter distances, have shorter wings. Willow Warblers have pale pinky-orange legs, are usually more yellow in overall colour, and have longer wings for longer migration. The photo’s should help! Conditions: Cloudy Temperature: Max 15- Min 11C.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

 

16th September 2016

Willow Warblers have been flitting through our garden again, stocking up on berries and fruits as these insect-eaters do in autumn in preparation for their migration to ¬†Europe or Africa. In Spring, it is easy to separate these from the very similar-looking Chiffchaff by their very different songs (see BTO’s comparison). In autumn, when there is no song: Willow Warblers have pinkish-red legs, and longer wing-tips, and Chiffchaffs have dark legs. Unique among our birds, Willow Warblers go through two complete moults in a year, one here and one in winter

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Conditions: Torrential rain clearing, down South. Temperature: Max 19- Min 13C.

17th August 2015

Willow Warbler- I’m feeling lucky. I’ve tried to get a good photo of Willow Warblers for ages- Sian’s done much better than me.¬†

Willow Warbler- showing the long wing feathers

Willow Warbler- showing the long wing feathers

Wilow Warbler

Wilow Warbler

Willow Warbler- its legs are reddish

Willow Warbler- its legs are reddish

Willow Warbler- the eye-stripe is usually brighter than The Chiffchaffs.

Willow Warbler- the eye-stripe is usually brighter than The Chiffchaffs.

They are so quick and usually stay up among the trees but after doing that for a while this one became interested in where all the other birds were feeding. Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers sing differently but look similar. They aren’t singing at present so the wonderful BTO site had a great video to help me tell the difference by sight. Willow Warblers have brighter eye stripes, longer wing-feathers (because they migrate further) and definitively, if you get a good look, reddish legs compared to the Chiffchaffs dark legs. At last I got a good look! Conditions: Cloud with sunny intervals and little breeze. Temperature: Max 20- Min 13c.