The Hebridean Hedge Sparrow

Irish, Scottish and British Dunnocks

by Martin

Love those English bird names in ‘The Handbook’. Credit to  Meinertzhagen also whose deeds of  infamy are usually more familiar. He catalogued the different Dunnocks of the Outer Hebrides and the Handbook records ‘Birds obtained in Antrim. Nov. 1934. appeared to be migrants of this form’. In fact they were the resident birds of Ireland also. BWP gives a more up-to-date picture of the various forms of Dunnock (or Hedge Sparrow when I started) which occur in Ireland and Britain:

 P. m. hebridium (Meinertzhagen, 1934), Ireland and Outer and Inner Hebrides; occidentalis (Hartert, 1910), eastern Scotland, England, and Wales, grading into hebridium in western Scotland and into nominate modularis in western France; nominate modularis (Linnaeus, 1758), central and northern Europe, from central France, Netherlands, and Norway east to Ural mountains, south to Alps, central Yugoslavia, and central Rumania

Dunnock n Ireland jan 2013 dGaelic Hedge Sparrow? ssp hebrideum Since it occurs across Ireland as well, can’t really call it a Hebridean Dunnock, so how about  a Gaelic one (or even Meinertzhagen’s Dunnock??!) ? Whichever, I photographed this one in Antrim (where they were first recorded !) in January 2013. Rich almost rusty brown tones give then darker upperparts than the British birds, the colour also very apparent on the breast sides.

BWP again describes them thus:

Irish and Hebridean race, hebridium. Upperparts much darker than nominate modularis, with rich rufous tone to brown plumage and streaks blacker; head and underparts darker grey, with almost purple tone on head; belly less white. (3) British race, occidentalis. Intermediate in appearance between hebridium and nominate modularis…

British race: occidentalis

Dunnock 2 Conway RSPB Jan 2013

dunnock 4Dunnock 5British Dunnock, ssp occidentalis, Conway RSPB reserve, January 2013

Dunnock n Ireland jan 2013 eGaelic Hedge Sparrow? ssp hebrideum. Co. Antrim, N. Ireland, January 2013

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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