A Dance of Dunnocks

Tuesday, 22nd February 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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jar and casettesdunnock

The snow showers don't amount to much this morning. Despite the sprinkling of snow the dunnocks still have nesting - or mating - in mind.

dunnockAs I fill the kettle I notice a female leading a male around the herb bed, below our kitchen window. First she does some tail quivering, wings slightly held out, tail held up. He pecks her rear end, her cloaca, to be zoological. This is a precaution he takes because in all likelihood she has mated with a rival, who will be hanging around not too far away; he's removing his rival's sperm.

dunnockThe advantage for the female is that, when the chicks are hatched, neither male will know for sure which of them, if any, are his so she gets help in rearing the young from two mates (that's the theory anyway).

However, before this male gets a chance to mate, the female hops under the rosemary. You wouldn't think there was room for a wren in that tangle of stems, but in she goes. The moorhensmale stands there, looking rather bewildered, then he hops in as well and they disappear under the grey green foliage.

On the river the moorhens seem to have paired up too.

clampsWith my books stacked in order on the shelves there's just those miscellaneous items that get put on the ends of the shelves to deal with; these G-clamps, which I use when I've got more books to press than I can fit in the old copy press can go back in the garage now and the French language casettes (above, left) can go back in the attic: we've started learning Spanish now.

Beuno! Next Page


Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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