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Nature Note - Chiffchaff

Photograph copyright - Rod Baker

The Chiffchaff is a small ‘leaf warbler’. It is a member of a large family of birds found throughout Europe and Asia. Although it can be seen in the UK in any month of the year, most birds spend the winter around the Mediterranean or further south in Africa. Mid-March to mid-June is the best time to find it, when its song (a repeated chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff) is distinctive.

Like most leaf warblers it is a very active bird that seeks out small invertebrates amongst the foliage of trees or in scrub. It builds its nests on the ground in deep grass, brambles etc, and feeds from ground level up to the highest vegetation in the canopy. In good weather with plenty of caterpillars, chiffchaffs can raise up to three broods of young in a season. It is easiest to find when it is singing, often from an exposed branch high up in a tree. Singing is one of the times when the bird sits in one place for more than a few seconds.

Chiffchaffs are widespread in south-east Leicestershire and can be found in almost any woodland, often in a small copse or spinney. There is not much suitable habitat in Kibworth village. However, if you have a patch of woodland nearby or even a large garden with mature trees and some ground cover try to hear one this spring. Failing that, stop near any small wood in the area surrounding Kibworth and you have a good chance of hearing, and perhaps, seeing one.

David Scott
Issue 410
March 2019

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