Have you heard a chiffchaff on Petersfield Heath?

The chiffchaff is a small olive-brown warbler which actively flits through trees and shrubs, with a distinctive tail-wagging movement. These summer visitors to the Heath have a distinctive song in spring and summer that sounds like “chiff – chaff”, which of course gives the bird its name.

Chiffchaffs are very similar to willow warblers, a distinctly paler bird. Chiffchaffs often have dark legs and a short pale eye stripe, whereas the willow warbler has pale legs and a long yellow eye stripe.

Chiffchaffs pick insects and spiders from trees and will also fly out to snap them up in flight. This is when you are most likely to see them, because, with all warblers, the chiffchaff is rather shy. It will pay to stop and watch for a while where you hear the chiffchaff sing.

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