Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ten

27 March 2020 | Posted in Michael Blencowe
Corona Wildlife Diary: Day Ten
Chiffchaff / Derek Middleton

As the world shuts down around us the uplifting role that wildlife plays in our lives becomes more vital than ever. So, for my own sanity as much as anything, I’m going to keep a daily diary of what I find around my garden.  Photograph the wildlife you can see from your window or in your garden and post your pictures on the ‘Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Table’ page.

Day Ten

I got really drunk with five of my best friends last night. Don’t worry – we weren’t breaking any social distancing restrictions. We were all on a videocall form all corners of Britain; the six of us sat in little boxes on the computer screen like some drunken episode of Celebrity Squares (click here to see an amazing clip of that show from 1976 – what a line-up!).  After two hours of catching up, sharing our worries and drinking we had a big (virtual) group hug. It felt very odd to be hugging my laptop but I’m a bit of a luddite and I’m always being told I should embrace technology more.  But it was lovely to (virtually) see my friends. I really needed it.

What I didn’t really need was to neck an entire bottle of dodgy white wine that’s been sat in the back of the coat cupboard for God knows how long. I woke up this morning at 05:20 with a banging hangover, grabbed a cup of tea and wandered into the garden in the hope that the dawn chorus would soothe me.

It was frosty out there this morning and the relaxed crooning of the local Blackbird was gentle on my mind. But then another song started; a monotonous two-note tune like an irritating squeaky metronome. The song came from an invisible warbler high up in the sallow and, though not particularly loud, it mixed with my hangover and painfully bounced around my brain. It was as if someone was stood next to me rythmicallly clanging a spanner on a dustbin lid. It was the song of the Chiffchaff.

I had my camera at hand and so I made this seven second video this morning:

(You can hear the Chiffchaff’s song better if you click here)
The Chiffchaff is an unobtrusive green /yellow warbler which makes its presence known every spring with its distinctive song. As Destiny’s Child once put it “Say my name – say my name” and this little green warbler has taken Beyonce’s advice literally because it sings its name –‘chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff’ over and over. And over. And over. Like Status Quo its musical repertoire is limited to two repetitive chords and as a result the bird always sounds a bit bored. If it only threw an extra chord in there (maybe a ‘choff’?) it could progress to the three chords of Oasis.

Anyway, the Chiffchaff was still singing when I went outside for lunch so I thought I’d try and get a photo of it for you. However, my attempts at trying to photograph this elusive little bird are just evidence that I’m not very good with a camera. Well, I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Here’s a picture of a Chiffchaff taken by my friend Bob Eade who is a great wildlife photographer.

Chiffchaff Bob Eade 

And here’s a picture of a Chiffchaff taken by me (someone who isn't a great wildlife photographer).


I guess after not being nice about Chiffchaff's song in today’s diary this little bird was giving me the view I deserved. Still, I'll carry on regardless and will keep trying to get snaps of the wildlife in my garden for you.

Send in your photos of the wildlife you see in your garden or from your window to the Sussex Wildlife Trusts Nature Table page.

Don't worry, they can't be any worse than mine.


  • Gemma:

    27 Mar 2020 23:49:00

    It could have been worse for your hangover, it could have been a great tit! … And what ya trying to say about Status Quo!? Thanks for keeping us smiling!

  • Sue Edwards:

    28 Mar 2020 09:56:00

    You really cheer me up. Thank you!

  • Kim:

    28 Mar 2020 16:25:00

    Bit harsh on Status Quo and the chiffchaff, I feel. Looks like the bird decided to do a Beyonce twerk at you.

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