July 23, 2014

Lets get together and … feel alright

After a very early breeding season with the earliest laying date recorded for a sparrow on Lundy (Figure 1), time has flewn and sparrows seem to be knackered by now. Most of them have bred twice, three and even four times and only a few are attempting to reproduce again now. By today, the 22nd of July, only thirtynine pairs are still either incubating or already feeding their nestlings in a, as it seems, difficult time of the year. And I say difficult because, similar to the very beginning of the season, nestling mortality is considerably high. On the other hand, some sparrows have decided to stop breeding and get ready for the winter. These sparrows are starting to gather together with the fledglings of this year. Flocks of up to 80 or more birds are currently a common sight around Lundy. These birds spend their time flying together from one place to another in search of food (Figure 2). Families composed of parents and their young are also common members of those groups (Figure 3).

Figure 1. Earliest laying date per year for the Lundy sparrow population since 2000. Y axis shows month/day; X axis shows year.

Figure 2. Part of a flock of Lundy sparrows photographed the 21st of July 2014. © A.Sánchez-Tójar

With still another month to go, the striking breeding numbers so far are:
  1. 225 broods recorded (getting closer and closer to the record of 2005, when 248 broods were recorded by the end of the season),
  2. 440 fledglings provided with a transponder, a BTO ring and a unique colour combination of rings,
  3. 1604 blood/tissue samples collected,
  4. 744 incubation, provisioning and personality videos recorded, as well as 174 videos recorded as part of the nest defence master project carried out by Leticia Lopera,
  5. in an attempt to estimate short-term survival and ring all those fledglings coming from wild nests that we didn't manage to either find or access, 301 captures have been carried using mistnets.

Though it is currently very calm compared to how it was some weeks before, those 39 pairs and their chicks still need some attention. However, since they are not so many, mistnetting is becoming a normal every-day activity. Hopefully, by the end of August, every single Lundy sparrow will have been sampled and uniquely marked. Fingers crossed.
Figure 3. Colour ringed female feeding her colour ringed fledgling. © L.Lopera

Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar

1 comment:

  1. This really is the record year in almost every ways. Thanks for your record hard work so far. Nearly there keep going - Shinichi