Sunday, 31 May 2015

Courting couples & sad singles

Well I think it is official - spring has been dire for birds (and birders) in the NW Highlands- it has rained almost every day in May (and late April) and temperatures have rarely got up to 12 degrees celsius. Strong NW and W airflow has just compounded the misery for all concerned. My considerable time on local patches indicates that some migrants have been almost two weeks late in arriving, compared to 'typical' spring movements for up here, with densities of returning birds still remaining low. Following extensive field time I have however had small successes- in the form of a single pair of redstarts displaying and holding territory. Similarly, a single pair of winchats are now also on territory. In consideration of the expansive and suitable habit for these species, only a single pair of each causes me some concern and I wonder how long it will be before these species become locally extinct? A few pairs of spotted flycatchers are also nest building, although obviously struggling to find airborne insects. Swallows and martin numbers are just reaching what I would consider 'normal' for the area. Perhaps just as worrying is the number of unpaired birds that remain, with single male wood warbler and just two lone, male, whitethroats still bursting their lungs as they continue to struggle to find suitable mates- low densities are obviously making it difficult to find a date! Hopefully some keen and willing ladies may yet show up for the unpaired males although time is running short. Hmm- perhaps I sense a horrible analogy to my own situation! ;). Wheatear numbers are also low and a small number of males have also failed to find partners and can still be heard singing in a last ditch attempt to find a partner- I have watched these sad singles repeatedly chased off the territories of the paired birds. On a brighter note I saw a single, recently fledged grey wagtail yesterday- begging for food, so at least one of the three pairs that I am aware of have had a modicum of success. Hopefully June will see better conditions and increased breeding success. 

where are the ladies?
I'm alright- she was hard to find but my girlfriend seems impressed!
me too- but she still makes me sing every day!
well I'm still single and well in the brown stuff!

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