Earliest Chiffchaffs

Hello everybody


Many thanks to all those who have sent in their earliest singing Chiffchaff records for the valley.

The earliest record received was 9th March 1997 at Swanton Morley Gravel Pit (Barry & Bridget Pummell). Barry and Bridget noted that it was a particularly mild day – 12 degrees C. Bob Bradley recorded one equally as early at Sparham Pools Reserve on 10th March 2003, Anne & Adrian Gardiner recorded one on 11th March 2003 at Sweetbriars Meadows, Norwich and one in Trainer’s Wood near the Halfords roundabout in Norwich on the 12th March 2003.


As for this year the earliest record received was 15th March from the Norwich end of the valley at Costessey (from A&AG). There was then several records received from sites in the central part of the valley on the 17th at Lenwade Common Pits, possibly 4 birds (from BB); Sparham Pools at 0745 (Bill Shepherd); in the grounds of the Rural Life Museum, Gressenhall (Louisa Lloyd); 2 birds at North Tuddenham Common (from B&BP). Josh Leeder also reported 2 birds heard along the Marriott’s Way between Reepham Station and Themelthorpe. The next day Louisa recorded a bird at Mile Cross Marsh, Norwich on the 18th and on the 21st Roger and Joan Clarke had a bird singing at 0730 in their garden at Twyford.


These records seem to suggest that birds are possibly moving south-north through the valley but as yet no records have been received from locations further north than Twyford or after the 21st. Is this because of the lack of observers or could the cooler weather conditions be affecting the movement of these birds?


Please keep sending records of the first Chiffchaffs in your area and very soon we will be hearing the first Willow Warblers. What is your earliest record in the valley for this species, Bob Bradley heard one on the 3rd April last year at Sparham Pools. The earliest record I have been able to find was 29th March 1989 at Taverham. Do please let me know of the first birds heard singing this year. Will it follow the pattern of the Chiffchaff?


Alwyn Jackson, Mill Street, Elsing.

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