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First Iberian Chiffchaff for Sussex

The first Iberian Chiffchaff for Sussex was discovered at Abbot's Wood near Eastbourne this morning by Charlie Peverett.

Note the pale yellowish cheeks and bright bill of the Iberian Chiffchaff compared to Common Chiffchaff

Iberian Chiffchaff has been an eagerly anticipated addition to the Sussex list, the species being a rare but annual vagrant to Britain and having been recorded from several nearby counties.


The species is very similiar in appearance to Common Chiffchaff but is yellower on the head and breast, with a whiter belly and a paler bill which appears longer. The legs are paler brown than the usually blackish legs of the more familiar species.

The yellow-washed throat and breast, whitish belly and relatively pale legs are visible here

However, thankfully the song is very different. Identification is complicated by chiffchaffs giving songs sharing characteristics of both species, but the Abbot's Wood bird gives a classic slower, lower-pitched song with three distinct sections: djup djup djup wheep

wheep chittichittichittichitta.

Iberian Chiffchaff breeds in deciduous woodlands in Spain and Portgual, with some in south-west France and scattered populations in parts of North Africa. There is more to learn about their winter distribution, but they seem to winter in west Africa south of the Sahara.


Hopefully the bird will stay over the course of the weekend to be widely enjoyed.

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