Monday, 30 March 2009

What would Darwin say?

Back in the days when the drop in Corn Bunting populations was first highlighted I seem to remember that the lack of song posts in large hedge-less fields was thought to contribute to the decline. This morning there were two Corn Buntings singing within 50 metres of each other. One was using a small bush and the other was frequently singing from the ground, in the centre of a wheat field with only about 3 or 4 inches of growth on it. I wonder if this indicates that Corn Buntings are adapting to their changing habitats.

This one was singing from this position, about 30 metres out in the field.

Occasionally it came to the edge of the path an perched on and old stem, still only about 18 inches above ground, to sing.

The bird that was singing in "opposition" was perched up on a decent sized bush. I wonder if this possibly superior site gives it an advantage when attracting a mate?

At Hope Point I watched a Chiffchaff foraging in the brambles. Although it was completely silent it was constantly wagging its tail, a good character of Chiffchaffs compared to Willow Warblers. You can see the wing structure as well. The primary projection is only about half the length of the tertials on the Chiffchaff.

I've only been birding about 59 years (I got my first observers book when I was about seven) so I always feel a bit daft when I learn something new about a common bird that I should have known already. Although the legs and feed are dark from above the soles of the feet are ochre yellow. The underwing coverts and axillaries are a brighter yellow than in the Willow Warbler. Aren't digital cameras great!

Despite the fact that the male Linnets are singing the flock of feeding birds is still together. I may be that as a semi-colonial nester they are non territorial in their feeding areas an flocking still has an advantage.

There were about 100 birds feeding on the edge of this field, (each dot is a Linnet!). But they didn't get long to settle and feed.

As I was watching they all flew up on several occasions and each time it was in response to a threat. Once it was me, trying to get too close, so not a real threat.

More substantial was this Sparrowhawk that seemed to be hanging around. At one time it was in the air having a dog-fight with a crow, but it seemed to be paying quite a lot of attention to the birds feeding in the field.

Once it was a Kestrel hovering over the field. The brought a flock of Linnets up from the ground to circle round the Kestrel, they obviously didn't think it would take one in the air. In addition there were three Wheatears in the area, a Black Redstart by the Bluebird Cafe and two Swallows at Kingsdown Leas.

1 comment:

Graham James said...

Fantastic shot of the Sparrowhawk, Tony, and it doesn't matter how long you've been birding, there is always something new to learn. That's one of the reasons we keep at it.