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Post Info TOPIC: Species in Focus - Starling


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RE: Species in Focus - Starling


There is a current survey being undertaken by the Royal Society of Biology to gather data on Starling murmurations. A short online survey is at http://www.rsb.org.uk/get-involved/biologyweek/starling-survey



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Thanks Henry for submitting the records. There are still a few gaps to fill down in the deep south biggrin.gif

Mark,

I did wonder whether there might be differences between breeding dates in the higher altitudes of the north and east of the county compared to the sub-tropical micro climates of Wigan and Salford.

Anyway as far as Starlings are concerned that doesn't appear to be the case, although we will be looking into this possibilty for other species. Some of the earliest records of Starlings carrying food are from Oldham with SD90F Bardsley on 23/04/09 and SD80Y Higher Boarshaw on 29th April in both 2009 and 2010.

So keep your eyes peeled. The Starling map shows that this species is doing very well in Oldham but there are a few tetrads that still need a confirmed breeding record. So finish that cup of tea and get out there. biggrin.gif


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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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Well it seems Oldham must be behind the times (leaving myself wide open here!)

Over the last couple of weeks, several flocks of over 30 birds have been seen at various locations around the borough and don't look at all interested in getting down to the 'nitty gritty' of breeding.

They say as you get older you prefer a good cup of tea rather than sex? It must be true! wink.gif

-- Edited by Mark Rigby on Saturday 30th of April 2011 09:38:05 PM

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Thanks Steve. I'm glad my theories are not radical or wayward figments of my immagination! As you say now is an excellent time for proving Starling breeding. I saw adults flying over with beaks full of food at several sites this afternoon locally, all submitted to the atlas, of course.
Henry.

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Two weeks ago Neil Ferguson asked the question on the General Birding Discussion section of this forum "Where have all the Starlings gone?"

Henry Cook's answer was spot on. "They've mostly paired off now so are in a lower density than for much of the year. To make it seem even quieter, many are probably incubating already meaning that half the birds present are out of sight on nests. Give it a few weeks and once the first brood have hatched the adults will become much more obvious whilst looking for food for their young. "

Starlings have become much more visible over the past week flying backwards and forwards to their nests carrying food. Cranefly larvae (leather jackets) and small worms are favourites, although Starlings, like many ground feeders must be struggling to find food in these incredibly dry conditions which are more like late summer than spring.

Analysis of the records from the previous 3 years shows a 3 week period during late April to mid May when the majority of sightings occur of birds carrying food. So, over the next few weeks, if you do see starlings flying past, just take a closer look and if they are carrying food then please submit a record to the BTO Atlas website using the breeding code FF. Bird Atlas If you're not sure which tetrad they are in just make a note of the location and drop me a pm.

It won't be long before the first young are fledging, if they haven't already. The earliest dates for Atlas records are as follows:
2008 - 11th May in SJ89L Withington
2009 - 23rd April in SD70V Elton
2010 - 1st May in SD81S Caldershaw

It's hard not to notice the raucous calls of the young as they beg to be fed and keeping up the constant clamour as they pursue their parents in flight. So providing the juvs are accompanied by adults and still showing signs of dependency the breeding code FL can be used. Sometimes you will see juvs feeding for themselves but occasionally getting a tit bit from one of the adults. This still counts as dependency. In GM the peak period (2008-10) for seeing recently fledged young is from the last week of May through to mid June.
If you've not already done so please have a look at the provisional GM distribution map for Starling (2008-10) on this website. Gm Starling map
It shows the areas of the county where we are most in need of records for this species.

The 10km summaries are an easy way to check whether or not the species has already been confirmed in a particular tetrad. 10km Breeding Summaries

This species is one which clearly demonstrates the importance of a new GM Atlas in enabling us to obtain a snap shot of our breeding birds' current status. Whilst it is on the Red list and should merit close attention, during 2005 to 2007 an average of less than 70 records per annum were submitted for the county report. It's great to see that since recording for the Atlas began in 2008 an average of almost 400 records per annum have been received from GM. Timed Tetrad counts have shown that it is the 2nd most numerous species in GM after Wood Pigeon but in this final Atlas breeding season we still need your help to fill in the gaps in the distribution map. At present it has only been confirmed as breeding in 191 tetrads compared to 297 at the time of BBGM (1979-83).

Steve


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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.


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The records collected for the Breeding Birds of Greater Manchester (BBGM) during 1979-1983 showed that Starling was the most widespread breeding species in GM, confirmed as breeding in over 90% of all tetrads and only absent from the high moorland. Since then it has been added to the red list (Birds of Conservation Concern) and results from the Breeding Bird Survey in north west England show a 40% decline (1995-2007).
A new GM Atlas will give us the opportunity of seeing in detail how this charismatic but often overlooked species has fared in GM over the past 30 years. So far during the 2008 and 2009 breeding seasons Starling has only been confirmed in 144 tetrads (44%) and in many tetrads not even recorded as a possible or probable breeder.
Over the past few weeks most people will have seen Starlings carrying food (breeding code FF) or feeding noisy juvs just out of the nest ( code FL). Please help to complete the map for Starling by submitting a single record to the BTO Atlas website (thats all it takes!) for each tetrad in which you have seen Starlings either carrying food of feeding juvs.
We are especially in need of records from Bolton, Bury and Wigan boroughs. In fact there are only confirmed breeding records from 6 tetrads in Bolton. Surely they can't all have upped sticks and moved to Oldham sur mer.
If you need help working out the tetrad, have a look at the GM tetrad map in the Atlas section of this website and the Tetrads section of the Recording guidelines. If youre still struggling drop me a pm.

Steve

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The Watergrove Skyline (January 2010) - before desecration.
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