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Post Info TOPIC: Species in focus - Dunnock.


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RE: Species in focus - Dunnock.


It would appear that the cheap ploy of mentioning the racy sex life hump.gif of the Dunnock in the initial post on this thread last summer didn't appear to cause a mass stampede sprint.gif of birders out into the field to check up on this species breeding activities! Still some modest progress was made in 2010, with an additional 37 tetrads logging the Dunnock as a confirmed breeding species. Although there are now 104 tetrads with this species as a confirmed breeder, this still only represents 49% of the 214 tetrads in which it was confirmed at the time of our last atlas - Breeding Birds in Greater Manchester (BBGM) - which covered the period from 1979 to 1983. The fact that for our current atlas project it is recorded as being present in 272 tetrads, which is not that far short of the BBGM total of 296 occupied tetrads, would suggest that we are struggling somewhat to convert those possible and probable records into confirmed ones.

As was also mentioned in the initial post last summer, the sight of adults carrying food isn't always that easy a one for us to observe. However, a summary of the data from the first three years of our current atlas endeavours shows that records of adults carrying food (code FF) accounted for approximately 25% of all confirmed breeding records. The earliest such record was from 29th April and the latest from 28th July. However, the peak months for these records were May (38%) and June (47%). Records of sightings of adults with fledged, dependent young (code FL) were more numerous, accounting for approximately 62% of all the confirmed breeding records logged between 2008 and 2010. Peak months for these records were again June (55%) and to a lesser extent July (27%).

A look at the latest breeding activity/distribution map for this species (which can be seen here) reveals a familiar picture again, with the largest gaps in our records again in the boroughs of Bolton and Wigan. Many tetrads seem to show that it is not even present in these 2 km by 2 km squares.....which it surely is? nod.gifnod.gif Still not quite entirely sure what the different sized dots of these types of breeding distribution maps are supposed to represent? A simple explanation can be found here at http://www.manchesterbirding.com/atlas2008-2010breedingmaps.htm

Records of the breeding activity of the Dunnock will be most welcome from all over Greater Manchester this year but especially so from those areas where we currently have no records whatsoever. Please help fill in these apparent gaps where it appears to be absent and let's try and upgrade this species breeding status to at best confirmed or at the very least probable where it is currently shown as just being a possible breeder. Just to very quickly re-iterate - it should be fairly easy, where this species is present, to at least record the Dunnock as a probable breeder within a particular tetrad. If you walk around a tetrad on just one day and hear 2 or more Dunnocks singing against each other (and the same principle applies to all other species too), then they are deemed to be holding territories and breeding is then categorised as probable. Now just how easy is that!nod.gifnod.gif

Enjoy your bird watching and let's hope those reputably saucy Dunnocks wink.gif give you something worth recording.....even if it does make you blush!redface.gif


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I would have thought a "singing" juvenile would be a bit of an oddity.

Calling yes, but singing? confuse.gifconfuse.gif

Steve

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Steve "Make your birdwatching count!"


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I spotted a single juvenile yesterday singing from the high points around the house.

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Thanks for that post Ian - definitely worth keeping an eye on the pair in your garden eyepopping.gif as the pair around my Chadderton garden have nested in leylandii for the last three years. Most years they have two sets of young but they can be difficult to observe at times. Their rapid wing-flickering and chasing around courtship antics in the earlier part of the breeding season can be a real treat to watch.nod.gifnod.gif

Best wishes,

Bill.

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I checked my emails this morning to see the email digest and this artical on the list and ironically 10 minutes earlier I went in to the back garden this morning to find a pair on my fence. We usually have 1 that has popped in for the last few years at first i thought it was a sparrow as it alway seemed to be around when they where until i spotted it pocking out of the hedge. This year it has been perched at the top of the leylandii at the front of the house singing away.

Regards

Ian

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Dunnock - this is yet another very common species where many more records of confirmed breeding are needed for the atlas projects. At the end of the 2009 breeding season, i.e. half way through the current 2007 - 2011 BTO/GM breeding birds atlas projects, Dunnock (sometimes known as the Hedge Accentor - don't you just love that other name!laughing.gif) had only been confirmed as breeding in 67 out of the 330 or so 2 km by 2 km tetrads in our recording area. Maybe this is one of those species that is so common that we often don't look properly at it? Yet in my opinion, it is in its own way such a dapper and engaging little bird and it is also a species with a reputation for a rather racy sex life! hump.gifhump.gifI thought that might get you a bit more interested!eyepopping.gif Yet its fairly reclusive nature means that it isn't the easiest of our commoner birds to confirm as a breeder. When it has young in the nest you can sometimes be fortunate enough to observe it carrying food, although frequently even with good close up views the adults may be carrying insect food that is almost invisible to the eye, even through binoculars. Once the young have left the nest they continue to be fed by the adults for around another two weeks or so. At first the juveniles, by and large remain hidden away, whilst the adults collect food. The recently fledged young have, when being fed, a very distinctive begging call and once this sound has been experienced and learnt it becomes fairly easy to confirm breeding at this stage of their breeding cycle. The juveniles do eventually come out into the open with the adults, before gaining their full independence and are in simple terms browner and more streaky looking in appearance than the adult birds.

We all must have this species in and around where we live and work and in many of the locations in GM where we regularly bird watch. This is just a gentle reminder (in case there is any confusion!confuse.gifconfuse.gif) that absolutely anyone of us is eligible and able to submit a confirmed breeding record to the BTO website for this species and indeed for any other species that we are able to confirm breeding for, when we are out and about bird watching in GM. Regardless of what area of GM we are bird watching in and regardless of whether the area has already been allocated to someone for a more formal survey (also known as a Timed Tetrad Visit or TTV), these type of "casual" roving records are really of the utmost importance and all of us birdwatchers in GM could help. Every single record submitted is of great value nod.gifnod.gif and will allow us to more precisely map the fortunes of this species since our last atlas project. By the way, at the time of this last official local atlas survey (1979 - 1983) this species had been confirmed as breeders in 231 tetrads. So with confirmed breeding in only 67 at the half way stage of the current atlas projects we have some way to catch up! Please help push this total onwards and upwards.above.gif Many first broods will already be out of the nest but this species usually has a second brood and occasionally a third - so hopefully there is still some time yet left this summer to "tick the box"! Many thanks to all of those who have already submitted records and thanks in advance in anticipation to those who are just about to start doing so! thumbsup.gif Let's all try to get the data for our ongoing atlas project, to as near as possible, to accurately reflect our local bird species populations and their distribution.

So with the football season almost over....only two games left to go now wink.gifwink.giflaughing.giflaughing.gif ....after which we will all then have a bit more time available. Plus, you must admit that at this time of the year it can be pretty quiet looking for rarities/scarcities invisible.gif on our home territory or local patches, so just that little bit of extra time spent watching our local breeding birds, will I guarantee you, not only bring you much more enjoyment than you might have expected but also the pleasure of the knowledge that the results of your efforts will be going towards an excellent project!

Finally, if anyone requires any assistance in getting started with recording for the atlas, please feel free to send me a pm and I will do my best to help.

Many thanks,

Bill.


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