Thursday, April 5, 2018

Boring? Never.

I’d met up with Andy for another ringing session at Oakenclough and where surely we would find a few fresh migrants on this the Fifth of April? The wind was in the North-West and at 0630 and 0.5° it wasn't especially warm. 

A glance at the weather map portrayed a stream of warm air partly headed our way from Iberia with maybe an outside chance of a few new birds although few migrants had yet reached the North West. 

Thursday 5th April 

Our catch was on-par for recent weeks. In other words not so good with just 12 birds caught and still zero warblers - 3 Siskin, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Great Tit, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Dunnock. 

Siskin 

Lesser Redpoll 

We don’t catch many Dunnocks at Oakenclough but today’s bird proved to be a female in early breeding condition.

Dunnock

The name Dunnock comes from the old English words dunnakos/dunoke or donek, meaning ‘little brown one'. Dun = dingy brown, dark-coloured. Ock = diminutive. Its scientific name Prunella modularis translates as ‘little brown singer'.

It has other English and Irish names such as the wren's brother, mother-in-law, field sparrow, black wren, grey robin and hedge warbler. In Scotland one of its common names is blue-dykie - more of that later.

The Dunnock is the persona non grata of the bird world - mostly uninteresting to birders, ignored, unloved and unwanted; especially so when out it pops from the hedgerow where a rare LBJ is rumoured to be. The Dunnock deserves few mentions on bird blogs, barely a frame on You Tube and never a photo on Bird Guides’ Best. And wait in vain for a pager message or urgent tweet about the dismal, drab and dowdy Dunnock.

A Dunnock spends its days lurking mostly unseen in dark corners of suburban gardens or feeding surreptitiously under bird feeders when the glamorous birds have left the feast.  Its song is unhurried and unremarkable; a warble which to the inexperienced or hard-of-hearing can be confused with the Wren, Robin or Common Whitethroat but one which lacks the Wren's intensity, the Robin's sweetness or the scratchy tones of the Whitethroat.

But fear not dear reader. The lacklustre Dunnock does have a trick or two up its feathered trouser legs, as many a ringer will relate. The identical male and female Dunnock are to all intents and purposes monomorphic - identical when even simple biometrics prove unhelpful in separating one sex from the other. Until that is the breeding season when the male displays its most obvious attributes that go toward the legendary sex life of the dreary old Dunnock. Multiple mating systems including monogamy, polyandry and polygyny - you name it, they do it.

You see, there’s more to a boring Dunnock than meets the unwelcoming eye. I do think that Mr Dunnock would agree.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday,  Anni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday.


23 comments:

Rhodesia said...

The siskins are so pretty we have a few around here. I always get excited when I see 'our' dunnock it is so secretive, but I occasionally get a reasonable shot of it. Interesting post Diane

Mary Cromer said...

Hi Phil and oh the story of the Dunnock gave me a smile and giggle too. I hope that you have been well. It appears my best day to go blogging is Thursday as I can't use my laptop...too slow and my husband usually is gone a bit on Thursday when I can use the desktop with no interruptions.
Oh you simply must check out my big surprise for this past Monday. I am not going to even whisper to you what it is from across the great pond, but for me, it was huge ;)
I will check a few older posts now to see what I have missed. Take care~

Stuart Price said...

Japanese Accentor is similarly ignored but it is not even common........

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: I do a whole presentation on avian mating systems, and Dunnock is one of the stars of my show! I am away on Vancouver Island right now with six members of my Tuesday rambles. The weather so far has not been kind but we have had some quality birds, nonetheless, and other than for Miriam and I it is a first time visit to this part of Canada - so quite exciting for the others.

Stewart M said...

Dunnocks are the classic LBJ - and then, you find out more, and their life does not seem to dull! But I am yet to seen a bird -LBJ or not - they does not look good in the hand.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, wonderful post on your Dunnock. They are all beautiful birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Friday, have a great day and weekend!

Betty Crow said...

Enjoyed reading about the Dunnocks. I always learn something when I visit. Ver interesting post. Beautiful birds. Have a great weekend!

Schotzy said...

How marvelous to be so knowledgeable about the various species... Always a treat to visit!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Little brown birds do tend to get overlooked, but the interesting sex life of the Dunnock is remarkable, and not at all dull. I actually do like the way it looks. I have just seen a Tailor bird on Nancy's blog, and it looks a little similar ( at least to my untrained eye.)
Lovely shots of the other birds.:)

GreenComotion said...

I just love that Gull - so beautiful.
Happy WE, Phil!!
Peace :)

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Oh my...you learn a lot about birds. Very interesting information too! Thanks for sharing! (why do I feel like leaving a hee hee at the end of my comment?) Enjoy your weekend!

sandyland said...

take me and my many doves and sandhills along

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks for giving the information on the Dunnock.
Enjoyed seeing your photographs.

All the best Jan

Anni said...

I learned of a new bird today...the 'little brown singer'. And I love the fact she was coming into breeding season...that's always a good thing with any bird species!!
For sharing with us at I'd Rather B Birdin', I thank you!!

Jean @sonotorganized.com said...

I know I'll always learn something interesting when I visit your blog. Enjoyed seeing your beautiful birds!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That's so funny about those LBJs! You can never tell from appearances can you? Those Dunnocks are practically not fit for a family-friendly blog .. my Victorian grandmother would have been scandalized ;>) Who knew?

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Wonderful photos but I do love the little Siskin with the yellow markings.

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Phil
My heart goes out to the poor little Dunnock today as Canada is in mourning for some of its brightest stars.
All my best to you and Sue.
Kay
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Powell River Books said...

The birds all look so calm. I would think they would be struggling rather than posing for pictures. - Margy

Fun60 said...

It's always the quiet ones you need to look out for.

NC Sue said...

I still find it hard to imagine how you capture these birds for ringing. Surely they don't simply fly into your hand?!
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/04/bedtime-at-biltmore.html

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

WOW! Who would have known! Usually, I don't read all the details on the birds when I come across blogs dedicated to birding, but I am glad I did today. So fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.de/2018/04/belfast.html

Lady Fi said...

Just lovely!

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