Birds beginning with the letter C?   Well that’s Lisa’s challenge this week.

Letter C?  Certainly ‘c’een a few (groan).  A memorable occasion being in 2004.  Leaving the family at home I fulfilled a dream, something off my ‘bucket list’ to give it a modern phrase, and spent a week on the Isles of Scilly in October.  These Islands lay some 20 miles off the tip of Land’s End in the Atlantic.  During the autumn they are a mecca for  rare birds lost on migration and for birders keen to add to life lists.  A huge storm almost stopped me.  Luckily I got the last helicopter there (an experience on it’s own).  The two stand out birds of that week a Cream-coloured Courser, a ‘wader’ of deserts and arid areas and the first for twenty years.  The other a Corncrake, a highly secretive (but vocal) rail that was once common but now only breeds on remote Scottish Islands.  Sadly in those days I didn’t have a decent camera so no images, just memories.  For the challenge things a bit more common.

Chiffchaff (Phyllloscopus collybita)

Chiffchaff.  The archetypal ‘lbj’ little brown job.  This hyper-active little warbler is sure to put a smile on my face!   To hear it singing it’s name from the tree tops is a sign spring is hear.  The first of the warblers to arrive from Africa, however larger numbers are now able to over-winter as the climate is milder and insects are available.

Male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Chaffinch.  Perhaps the commonest bird in Britain but always a welcome sight.  Again a song that tells the winter’s gone.  A lot of Chaffinches migrate to the UK from Scandinavia in cold weather.  They are quite timid around garden feeders.

Coot (Fulica atra)

Eurasian Coot.  A common sight on lakes and slow flowing rivers.  In my County of Norfolk they were once shot in their thousands by Royal shooting parties and given to the ‘locals’ for xmas dinner!  Luckily for the Coot this practice has ceased.

24 thoughts on “Chiff-Chaff-Finch

    1. Couldn’t face a boat trip to the islands, I get seasick! The helicopter only took 20mins but they no longer operate. There is fix wing flights though. Certainly was a great holiday despite the awful weather, I saw lots of birds and happened to meet loads of people I knew from Norfolk. The food was superb and the local brews gave me more than one hangover!

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  1. I love your story from 2004. What a sight that would have been and digital SLR’s were just starting to come into their own. I got my first one in 2005. Memories are good though. You have shared birds this week I’ve never seen or heard of so thank you for that. That Chaffinch has gorgeous colors. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I had a 400 mile train trip including crossing London by underground to get to Cornwall the helicopter flight was about 20 mins. With my luggage including telescope and bins a camera would have took up too much space. Now I would take the camera and ditch the scope!

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  2. Sounds like quite the bucket list birding experience and sometimes the mental pictures last longer than the print/digitals. Not a big fan of the Coot as they are literally EVERYWHERE here, however, that Chaffinch is a mighty smart looking specimen. As you are aware, I’m currently chasing down fodder for this year’s posts, but hoping to jump in on the challenges once we return to base. Hope you are coping well with your increased restrictions – stay sane.

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    1. Yes restrictions are a bit of a pain right now, but necessary. If everyone stuck to the rules this mess would clear up much quicker, sadly some see themselves above the law. Sanity is wearing thin.
      Hope your trip is going smoothly and don’t leave your audience waiting 4 or 5 years to see the results!
      I quite like Coots especially at breeding time, they have some amazing fights over territory!
      Stay safe B.

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      1. Yeah, CJ was estimating about 2023 for the spoils of exploration to see the light – apparently you two know me all to well. Now being in big ‘R’ mode hoping things will be much more current once we return. Doing our best to stay safe and definitely keeping our exposure down – great thing about birding is there’s plenty of room to maintain your distances.

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  3. Chaffinches and Chiffchaffs are favourites here too. Remember years ago, watching a chaffinch catching mayflies over the river Kennet and returning to the same perch each time like a fly catcher – which you posted some pictures of a while ago I seem to remember. Saw similar behaviour a couple of years ago here with a resident chaffinch when we had a good hatch mayflies on the stream. I’ve seen robins and great tits join in as well. I suppose all birds adapt to what’s available.

    Love to hear the first call of Chiffchaff in the spring, though after a few weeks the monotony of it can drive you a little crazy. Last year Chantal felt one of them in the garden was doing more chaffchiffing than chiffchaffing. A welcome variation. Lovely pictures.

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    1. Interesting observations David. I think I’ve seen Chaffinches catching insects but not with much finesse. I do like to watch Chiffies hover and pick insects from the underside of leaves.
      Thanks for dropping by.


  4. What a great memory from the isles of Scilly! Those are two great sightings!

    The Chiffchaff and Chaffinch would both be life birds for me. Coots are one of my favorite species even though we have them here by the thousands. Their territorial/mating fights are brutal! They can do significant damage with those feet.

    All is good over here and we’re even having some cold (for us) weather. Birding is great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woke up this morning to a layer of snow! I’m not a fan of winter.
      Yes the holiday on Sciliy was a great experience, I even found a couple of scarce birds myself.
      Thought you may have come across Chaffinches during your spell in Germany.
      Glad you are all safe and well, lockdown is a bit boring now. Thanks for dropping in Wally.

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