Chris Collins, Dave Gandy and I saw a rather odd Chiffchaff in the moat at Dungeness, Kent, UK, on 29 Oct.
Some record shots attached. The grey-brownness of the plumage was
notable, but the apparent dark lateral crown sides (almost cap-like)and whopping supercilium even more so. CC and DG thought they saw the bird call (like a collybita) but, as the bird had its bill permanently half-open and as two collybita Chiffs in the same tree were calling away, I don't feel happy relying on it being our odd individual making the un-odd noise.
And it gets stranger... Jizz was oddly stocky and heavy, quite unlike the two weedy collybita. Behaviour was wacky too: it basically plopped from branch to branch like a vireo or Hippolais, and nowt like a Phyllosc. Yet a Phyllosc it certainly is, and, indeed, a Chiffy it certainly is. But - and here's my question - from where and what ssp?
In e-discussion with Alex Lees (when in doubt, turn to a punkbirder), we've discounted abietinus (too brown) and tristis (plenty of reasons). Alex (and I hope he won't mind me noting this) mooted Mountain Chiff because of the brown-capped appearance, a species that DG tentatively suggested at the time. (He lives in Thailand so he can be so bold.) But the yellow in the supercilium surely discounts that.
So we're back with a Chiffy and back with that question - from where and what ssp?