A willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) seen and photographed by DKG yesterday morning.
Willow warblers and chiffchaffs s are very difficult to tell apart. They are both shy, little brown birds with a pale eyestripe; they both hunt insects among a tree’s leaves and are rarely still enough for even the most diligent of bird watchers to get a good look.
We had to send these pictures to an expert to be sure of our identification.
There are two ways to tell the difference. They have different coloured legs, a willow warbler’s are pinkish grey and the chiffchaffs are brownish black, and they have completely different songs.
The chiffchaff just shouts chiffchaff, usually at the top of its voice, while a willow warbler repeats a short but complex phrase with very little variation between repetitions. Here is a recording of a willow warbler and if you listen carefully you can hear a chiffchaff shouting in the background.
Willow warbler’s song
recording by Antonio Xeira
More about willow warblers: