Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (ssp?)
Kuwait, December 2013
Chiffchaff, Al Abraq, Kuwait, December 2nd 2013
Certain Chiffchaffs wintering in Kuwait have enigmatic plumage and calls. The crown and mantle are olive-brown while the underparts are rather pale and have only restricted yellow streaking. However, there are evident olive fringes to the flight-feathers. The plumage lacks the rusty-buff or 'tan' suffusions typical of Siberian Chiffchaff. They have a distinctive call, which rises and then falls, the sonogram having the shape of a lop-sided and flattened 'S' (see below). The call can be heard here ►. In quality, the sound is rather in-between that of nominate collybita and Siberian tristis. The subspecies involved is subject to a great deal of speculation, with suggestions including menzbieri but caucasicus also seems to be a possibility. See <here> for discussion of Chiffchaffs in the Elborz mountains of Iran, of somewhat similar appearance but with a greyer tinge to upperparts and even less yellow (virtually white) underparts. The Iranian birds, which have a more-shallowly rising and falling call, occupy a region spanning the ranges associated with caucasicus and menzbieri.