Sunday, 1 May 2011

Knee deep in Blackbirds.

I mentioned the antics of Dunnocks the other day. They were at it again this morning.

This pair seem to use the far side of the "top pond" for their displaying area, not a very convenient site for me. You can see the pose as she lifts her tail and displays her cloaca. The male lent forward and then dashed at her, pecking at her most delicate spot!

While I was watching this a Holly Blue was touring the garden, and just for a change actually opened it's wing while still.

The Blackbirds are extremely busy gathering food for their first broods of the year. Several are using the lawn (a bit of an exaggeration of the stat of our grass!) to feed on. I'm not sure how many, but it's at least three.

I don't have any problems identifying this one, but the others all look the same to me at this stage of the proceedings. Later in the season, as they get worn out, sometimes the wear and tear on their feathers makes it possible to pick out individuals.

The series of warm springs must surely have made the job of breeding s lot easier for our resident birds. Blackbirds have several broods each year, and I have a theory (doesn't only apply to Blackbirds). First BTO research has shown that, as Sparrowhawk numbers have increased they have had no noticeable affect on the population of small birds. So how is that possible. If Blackbirds were their only prey item, and in fact they are around fourth favourite, I still don't think that it would necessarily reduce their numbers. There are about 4.6 million pairs of Blackbirds in the country (BTO data). As the weather has been good many will have three or even four broods. To maintain the population on 9.2 million have to survive to breed the next year. If Sparrowhawks were the only cause of death, then the surplus Blackbirds far exceeds the food needed to maintain the Sparrowhawk population.

But of course their are lots of other prey items for Sparrowhawks, and by weight the Woodpigeon is one of the main ones, and their population is very high. Blackbirds, like all birds have other pressures on their populations, and the two worst are both man made. Cars and traffic and of course domestic cats. We hear much nonsense about the danger to our song birds caused by Sparrowhawks, when in fact they are natural predators that have evolved with their prey species, unlike the feline killing machines (an alien species to our environment) and cars, that give birds not chance to escape because of their speed.

The Little Female turned up very early tonight, just about 9 pm, so it wasn't even properly dark. I'd set up for her arrival and even had my camera with a telephoto zoom with me, which was a bit unnecessary as she was only 2 meters away!.

It did mean I could get some pictures of her claws, which shows why Badgers are so good at digging.

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