Saturday, 8 May 2010

It's That Time Of Year Again

The nest box season seems to come round quicker and quicker every year, or is that just a sign that I am getting older and older! This morning Ian and I went to check our boxes in the Hodder Valley and on Rawcliffe Moss. As I have reported in the past, I have 35 boxes up in the Hodder Valley with the aim of providing nest sites for Pied Flycatchers and ten boxes on Rawcliffe Moss for Tree Sparrows. The Tree Sparrow boxes will be expanded to 20 later this year.

It was very cold this morning with a biting northeasterly wind and as such the bird song was subdued as we carried the ladder through the woodland to check our boxes. Blackcap sang from some young woodland, and Garden Warblers sang in the semi-natural ancient woodland. At first we only knew of the Pied Flycatchers presence when we found the occupancy of three boxes. These all had 'cold' eggs with clutches of 2, 6 and 7, so the birds were still laying. We did eventually get cracking views of a singing male perched out in the open completely oblivious of our activity around the boxes.

Pied Flycatcher nest

In addition to the Pied Flycatchers we had one box with Nuthatch and the rest were occupied with either Blue or Great Tits. I'll be able to give you a more accurate breakdown after we check the boxes again next week and hopefully one or two more boxes will be occupied by Pied Flycatchers.

Great Tit nest

We then went to Rawcliffe Moss to check the Tree Sparrow boxes. Out of the ten boxes four were occupied by Tree Sparrows and in all of them there was a mix of recently hatched young and young just hatching, so there will be a few Tree Sparrows to ring next week.

Tree Sparrow nest with recently hatched young -
that's the pink blob in the middle!

On the way off the moss we checked a box that was put up for Little Owl and for the third year running it is being used by Great Tits. The Little Owls use it as a roost site in the winter, probably as part of their feeding territory, and the Great Tits use it in the summer! So it is a box that has some form of occupancy all year round!

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