Monday, January 17, 2011

A Warm Spring Suits the Greenshank

Greenshank, Tringa nebularia
The Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) is a winter migrant to Ireland, arriving in September to estuaries all along the coast and returning to Scandinavia and Scotland in April (1). The individual pictured is showing its winter colours; in the summer they have a grey breast and darker above (2). The breeding performance of this species of sandpiper is very much influenced by weather conditions. In a 19 year study on a population of Scottish Greenshank, it was seen that, among other observations, warmer weather in the early spring resulted in larger eggs and heavier chicks, as well as more successful hatchings (3). Bad conditions over two successive years resulted in fewer birds returning to bread and the establishment of fewer new territories.
Greenshank, Tringa nebularia
  1. Nethersole-Thompson and Nethersole-Thompson 1979, Greenshanks
  2. Hayman and Hume 2002, The New Birdwatcher's Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe p. 106
  3. Thompson et al. 1986, Journal of Animal Ecology 55 pp. 181-199

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