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Up with the wrens

6 May 2012

The hills are all mine. At least that’s how it feels when I’m up early preparing to do a wren survey and there are no other souls about.   What a fantastic morning to be working the hill as it was incredibly calm without a breath of wind.

Early morning boats in the BayColourful cloudy sky in the morning

The first few attempts at taking photos of the wrens didn’t go too well as they are quick little critters…

Like a bullet - wren flies offWren flying away

…but I soon figured out when to press the camera button.

Sunlit wrenSilhouette of a wren
I even managed to get photos of two different males singing their beautiful song.
Wren singingWren singing from the top of a cleit

The St Kilda wren is endemic – unique – to the archipelago. It has a distinctive appearance being on average bigger-bodied, longer billed and with paler plumage than all other sub-species of wren in Britain.  

Wren singing looking in my direction

Complete survey coverage of the wren on St Kilda is particularly challenging – many of the islands steepest cliff faces have enormous areas of apparently suitable  breeding habitat but they are often impossible to get to and census accurately. The area within the Head Dyke has been surveyed a little more frequently but the last ‘count’ was conducted in 2009.

So, as well as my seabird work this year, I decided to repeat the wren work and I will do at least ten early morning surveys over the coming weeks. From these I can ‘map’ the boundaries of a singing male’s territory to work out how many breeding pairs there are. That’s the theory anyway! 

(Seabird and Marine Ranger)

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