Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Boxes - Part Two

My Blog title could easily have been 'Boxes - Two Parts', as there were two parts, or should I say two sites, to the visits that Alice, Gail and I made, to check our nest boxes at weekend. First up, we visited our Pied Flycatcher nest box scheme in Bowland, and it was another sorry affair. 

We have seven pairs of Pied Flycatchers occupying our boxes, but sadly three have been predated by a Weasel. These three boxes were in the area that we found three predated Tit boxes last week, so I assume that they are right in the Weasel's territory. Boxes away from this area seem safe so far, so we need to keep our fingers crossed! In addition to the predation on the Pied Flycatchers, the Weasel had predated a box occupied by Nuthatches, killing the sitting female and several small chicks. That's eight boxes predated so far by this little mammalian predator! According to the mammal society only 10% of the Weasel population survive to over 2 years old, so it's unlikely to continue next year. It's nature, and there is nothing we can do, and we just have to accept it. 
We managed to lift two female Pied Flycatchers off the nest, and they were both ringed. One was a female that we lifted off the nest and ringed last year. When we ringed her in 2020, we aged her as a second calendar year bird, meaning she was hatched in 2019, so she is now two years old. The other female isn't one of our birds, so we wait to hear from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to find out where she was ringed. 
 Pied Flycatcher
So, in addition to the Pied Flycatchers, we have boxes occupied by four Blue Tits and one Great Tit. Oh, and a Pipistrelle sp. bat. When I lifted the lid to check this particular box, there was a Pipistrelle bat roosting on the side of the inside of the nest box. This box will remain undisturbed now for the rest of the year.
We then headed over to our good friends, Robert and Diana's farm near Nateby, to check a few boxes there. We checked 14 small hole type boxes, and they were occupied by two Tree Sparrows, four Blue Tits, a Great Tit and a nest of Tree Bumblebees! I got down off the ladder very smartly when I discovered those!
We ringed a brood of four Blackbirds that were in a nest on a ledge in a brick building, and a brood of four Blue Tits. The small size of this Blue Tit brood illustrates how cold and tough this spring has been so far, and the Blue Tits are obviously struggling to find enough food, and hence the small brood size. 
Blackbird chick
We had a look on the wetland, but as you would expect at this time of year it was quiet, and then we had a walk to an area of woodland with a nice 'purple haze' of Bluebells. Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff singing in this area, but no nests found.   

Purple Haze
When we go back next week, we will check some Swift boxes that we know have Tree Sparrows in them, so hopefully a few broods to ring next week.

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