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Post Info TOPIC: Species in focus - Song Thrush.

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Species in focus - Song Thrush.

Now seems to be a pretty good time for a further look at one of our atlas priority species that we first focused on last summer. nod.gif So what sort of progress did we make with recording the breeding activity of Song Thrush in 2010 and what might a summary of the data for the years 2008 to 2010 show? Additionally, could any of this summarised data be of help to us in this our final season of our Greater Manchester Breeding Birds Atlas project and allow us to attain more confirmed breeding records for this seemingly "difficult" species?

Firstly, some welcome improvement was made in 2010 to the total number of tetrads recording confirmed breeding for Song Thrush - above.gif up from 49 tetrads at the end of 2009 to 80 by the end of 2010. Still this figure of 80 only represents 38% of the 212 tetrads that logged confirmed breeding at the time of our last breeding birds atlas which was undertaken between 1979 and 1983. cry.gif The latest breeding activity/distribution map for this species can be seen here. Not entirely sure what the different sized dots represent on these types of breeding distribution maps? confuse.gif Well, to make things simple all records with breeding codes are allocated to one of the following categories:

Large dot = confirmed breeder e.g. Adult carrying Faecal sac or Food for young (FF)

Medium dot = probable breeder e.g. Permanent Territory (defended over at least 1 week) or 2+ birds singing against each other on a single date (T)

Small dot = possible breeder e.g. Singing male present in suitable breeding habitat on one date (S)

The latest map for Song Thrush shows its apparent absence from some large areas in the west of our recording region, especially so in the boroughs of Bolton and Wigan. Surely this species is not only present there but also breeding there too? nod.gif If bird watchers from these boroughs could help please.gif by submitting their own records of this species breeding activities to the BTO database via the usual website at
http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas this would surely allow us to gain a much more accurate picture of this species real distribution.

So when might be the best time to look for signs of confirmed breeding and what to look out for? Approximately 60% of all confirmed breeding records for the first three years of our current atlas project were for sightings of adults carrying food (code FF). As mentioned in the initial post on this thread, this species does give us a pretty good time span in which to confirm breeding, with a fairly extended breeding season. Those records coded FF were spread over 5 months, with April accounting for 15% of records, May 22%, June 40%, July 20% and August 3%. Sightings of adults with fledged dependent young (code FL) accounted for a further 27% of all confirmed breeding records. The monthly spread for those records coded FL was as follows: - May 26%, June 44%, July 15% and August 15%. So June is definitely the optimum time to keep our eyes peeled but still with a really good chance of confirming breeding at anytime throughout our spring and summer seasons.

Hopefully the above information shows that we really do still require more records of possible, probable or confirmed breeding for Song Thrush from large parts of Greater Manchester. If any clarification is needed on which types of records are indicative of possible, probable or confirmed breeding and the coding system that is used for these breeding categories, a clear and helpful explanation for all can be found at:-

Please help out by doing your bit for our atlas!smile.gifbiggrin.gif Good luck and once again if any help is needed then please just ask.

-- Edited by Bill Myerscough on Friday 13th of May 2011 07:21:08 AM


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Able to confirm breeding in 2 separate squares this week with adults carrying food (FF) so seems to be a good time to try to check for this.


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Song Thrush - how is it that such a species, that is both relatively numerous and also incredibly vocal in the earlier part of the breeding season can seem to become progressively harder to locate as the breeding season progresses? invisible.gif Admittedly, even in those spring months this species can sometimes be much easier to hear than it is to see. That song in the earlier part of the breeding season does seem to indicate that good numbers might be establishing or holding territories in GM. How to describe that song?sing.gif.....that almost vulgarly loud repetition of those familiar stock phrases, imparted in what sounds at times to be a quite desperate, needy tone.....you can almost imagine it pleading for attention saying "choose me, choose me, choose me"!giggle.gif Sure some of these noisy songsters will fail to attract mates but many will pair up and breed and it is these pairs date.gif we need to be looking out for.

Can't wait any longer for me to get on to those much loved statistics then?nerd.gifhmm.gif Wait no more!biggrin.gif....confirmed as a breeder in only 49 tetrads at the end of the 2009 breeding season on our current GM breeding birds atlas project, which is just a mere 23% of the total recorded at the end of out last local atlas project (BBGM) which ran from 1979 to 1983. BBGM estimated 4,400 pairs of Song Thrush in our recording area and whilst in very simplistic terms it is thought to have declined since then, before numbers appear to have rallied again in recent years, this surely even now is still one of our commoner breeding birds, despite what our current crop of atlas statistics may suggest! confuse.gif

So how best to confirm breeding for this species then? idea.gif Like Mistle Thrush and Blackbird, the easiest opportunity might arise when you can locate an adult bird collecting and carrying food. Unfortunately, unlike Mistle Thrush you are less likely to see it with its chest thrust out, boldly striding across the centre of a newly mown area carrying a gob full of juicy worms! It's more likely to be seen skulking around the periphery of that mown area, possibly along with the Blackbirds and even then it sometimes appears to have a subordinate role to that species. Song Thrush is most definitely one of those species that requires a fair bit of time, patience and fortune to confirm breeding but it will be effort that will be rewarded with the pleasure that comes from the feeling that you are almost "spying on" one of our daintier, most elegant but shyer birds going about its breeding activities. I have often wondered if Song Thrush has a greater chance of breeding success later in the season, when vegetation cover is usually at its thickest? I suspect this may be the case, although I have little evidence to support this theory. Anyway, enough of my idle contemplations, fortunately it is one of those species with a prolonged breeding season, with nests recorded in virtually all months of the year....so please don't give up on looking for those confirmed breeding records just yet!

Just as a matter of interest Mistle Thrush (...need I say that the atlas needs more confirmed breeding records for this species as well!) had been confirmed as breeding in 82 tetrads (compared with 49 for Song Thrush) at the end of the 2009 breeding season. With Song Thrush considered to be more numerous than Mistle Thrush in our recording area, this shows just how challenging it is to confirm breeding for our smaller thrush species, as well as being a reflection of the relative difficulty/ease of confirming breeding for these two particular species. Still as birders we all like a bit of a challenge, don't we? Go on, rise to the challenge! nod.gif

A very big thank you to all those birders helping to push this important project forwards.clap.gifworship.gifclap.gifworship.gifclap.gifworship.gif


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