Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A horny Chiffchaff

Seeing your first returning summer migrant is always a welcome sight, and my first this year was a rather predictable singing Chiffchaff in Long Wood on the Flats at the weekend.

There's always a small question mark over whether these early singing Chiffchaffs are actual migrants or just birds which have wintered in the UK and have now found their voice as we enter the start of spring.

Polen Horn, migration
Chiff-Chaff, Chiff-Chaff
But as the photos below show, this individual is showing a thick 'pollen horn' (a matted mass of feathers around its bill) which indicates this is a nectar feeding bird. As many of our nectar rich trees are yet to reach full blossom, this would suggest this bird has been using nectar as a high energy food source along its migration route in warmer climates (Spain, Portugal, etc) where spring is in a more advanced state and trees from the Citrus family are already in flower - so with confidence I'm happy to believe this little fella is a true summer migrant and not one of our UK wintering Chiffchaffs - welcome back.

Polen Horn, Chiffchaff

Heavily cropped photo showing the 'Pollen Horn' in a bit more detail - a messy combination of pollen, nectar and matted feathers


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