Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita


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Chiffchaff (caucasicus or menzbieri?), Elborz Mountains, Iran. April 2017

Chiffchaff (caucasicus or menzbieri?), Elborz Mountains, Iran. April 2017

Chiffchaff (caucasicus or menzbieri?), Elborz Mountains, Iran. April 2017

Chiffchaff (caucasicus or menzbieri?), Elborz Mountains, Iran. April 2017

Chiffchaff (caucasicus or  menzbieri?), Elborz Mountains, Iran, April 2017

The images above show Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita ssp. observed in the Elborz Mountains near Kelardasht. They occupied light woodland (including oak, hornbeam and hawthorn) at an altitude of around 1500m,  a habitat they shared with Green Warblers P. nitidus. Their plumage was distinctive, with relatively white underparts (lacking evident yellow) but with well-developed yellowish-olive fringes to the remiges and rectices. There was an extensive yellowish base to the lower mandible. Similar-looking birds with similar vocalisations were encountered also near Kiasar, which lies some way to the east of Kelardasht. Current literature indicates that Kelardasht lies within the range of caucasicus, while Kiasar lies close to the western end of the range associated with menzbieri (the core range of menzbieri is focussed upon the Kopet Dagh in Turkmenistan). The appearance of both forms, especially menzbieri,  is poorly documented. Are the Elborz Chiffchaffs caucasicus or are they menzbieri? Their identity is discussed further, with sound-recordings, sonograms and additional photos, in a separate item <here>.


A. R. Dean

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