Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Flit, flutter and flirt

Today it may be cold, grey and sleeting, but yesterday was clear and sunny, and provided me with the opportunity to watch the 'spring-is-coming' behaviour of a pair of familiar garden birds - blue tits (Parus caeruleus, sometimes put in the genus Cyanistes). There have been blue tits around throughout the winter, making good use of feeding opportunities (I am their 'food monkey'), but they have been doing little more (as far as I can tell) than feeding, hiding/roosting and basically surviving.

A pair of blue tits investigating our garden
A small, charismatic species, blue tits are well known for their acrobatic feeding habits, but what was particularly noticeable yesterday were bursts of frantic darting and chasing, barely stopping for a second.

After a brief pause, back to darting about...
This is, I can only imagine, mating/flirting behaviour - plenty of species engage in some sort of chasing, and spring is soon due to, well, spring. Also, there were other behaviours, including female fluttering which echoes the food-soliciting movements of juveniles, and male calling which seems likely to be a precursor to more strictly territorial singing.

A fluttering female
A calling/singing male
Punctuating the more obvious flirting there were periods of feeding which may be somewhat ritualised, where one or both would pick at parts of the fence and perform various feats of acrobatics. Maybe I'm anthropomorphising a bit, but at times it did look as if one was hiding while the other fed (or pretended to) and then chased it - repeat until pair-bonded?

Busy feeding (or feeding-like) behaviour
That's all from me for now - less technical, more illustrated than my usual posts, but all kinds of topics are in the pipeline...

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