Before I get into some more farmland fayre, courtesy of my second breeding bird survey in deepest, darkest Notts, an update on the Spotted Flycatchers at our Pied Flycatcher site in Bowland is in order.
The site owner, Simon, messaged me to say that he had found a second pair of Spotted Flycatchers nesting behind a building, and they had just fledged three young, so sadly too late for us to ring the chicks. However, they had now started with their second brood, and were incubating four eggs. The original pair, with the five young of whom we ringed, are now busy at the nest again, getting on with their second brood. Gail and I will check both pairs over weekend, so hopefully in a week or two we will have a further eight or nine Spot Fly chicks to ring!
As I mentioned before, mid-week I was back completing the second BBS on a block of farmland in Notts. The four-hour survey commenced under full cloud cover, with a light northerly wind, and it remained overcast for the duration of the survey.
The site is divided into three blocks if you will, and the land rises from south to north, with a block of arable on both the higher and lower ground, and pasture in the middle. On the lower end, of the higher block of arable land (that's confusing), there is a flood at one end of a large field, and looking at the Willow scrub that has developed along the edge of it, it would seem likely that it rarely dries up, and it provides a nice piece of habitat. In fact, the muddy edge looks good for a 'fresh' wader or two to drop in, but not on this day, just a female Mallard with a family of ducklings. A Grey Heron on the flood looked a little menacing and I wondered if it was eyeing up the ducklings. Probably!
Only one species of raptor during this visit, and this was two calling Buzzards, but I did have a Buzzard sized bird fly over in the form of a Raven. I recorded a number of Swifts and Swallows foraging for aerial insects, probably brought lower by the overcast conditions, and I had 12 and 22 respectively.
I think I mentioned when I blogged about this site before, that the arable land is sown with spring cereals, providing good nesting habitat for Skylarks, and this morning I had seven singing birds. Six species of warbler graced the hedgerows, copses, scrub and woodland, and I had seven singing Chiffchaffs, a single Willow Warbler, a singing Sedge Warbler, five singing Blackcaps, a singing Garden Warbler and eleven Whitethroats, including seven singing birds, and one carrying food.
The site supports a good population of Song Thrushes, and I heard seven singing males during my survey. The site also supports good numbers of Robins, as I had at least twenty individuals. Four male Yellowhammers and a singing Reed Bunting rounded off what was a pleasant morning.
On this day in 2012, Ian and I ringed three Barn Owl chicks at our friend's farm near Garstang. Barn Owls still nest at this lovely farm, and I have mentioned before that Robert has a camera installed in the box now, and I can tell you that the female is still on eggs. It's been a late spring for Barn Owls this year, and it has taken the females longer than normal to get in to condition to be able to lay eggs. The beauty of the camera in the box of course is that Robert can monitor what's going on; commencement of egg laying, clutch size, hatching date, number and type of food provision for the chicks, and also, we can make sure that we ring them at a good age, when we know that they will survive and successfully fledge. Useful tools these nest cameras!