John, Ian, Chrissie, Allan , Simon and Zdena have started to do rolling inspections of the nest boxes to check on occupancy and as we did last year, our results with be sent to BTO by John.
Nest Box inspection 10/04/14
Ian and I did an inspection this morning. We were only able to do the newer nest boxes (28-51), since those older ones that had been modified over the winter proved inaccessible – the wood had swollen and we need pincers to extract what were supposed to be loose nails holding the lids in place. Because the understorey wasn’t too bad, we got round the 24 newer boxes in an hour.
Results were interesting. One was occupied by the (remains of) a wasp or hornet nest. Of the other 23, 8 had partial or almost complete nests, one of which had a sitting blue tit. So it looks like occupancy will be up on last year.
Nest Box inspection 25/04/14
Zdena and I did an inspection of the newer nest boxes today, the second inspection of the season. Unfortunately we again could not do the modified older boxes because I couldn’t lay my hands on a pair of pincers to extract the clouts (and also we were trying to beat the heavy rain forecast for mid morning).
Of the 23 inspected, 15 showed signs of use (compared with 8 when inspected 2 weeks ago). 5 nests had eggs (2 definitely blue tit, rest unsure) and 10 were in various stages of build, ranging from 1/4 built to built and lined. One or two had not had much added since 2 weeks ago, and therefore might have been abandoned.
This represents a considerable increase in usage compared with last year. Also nesting seems to be about a month earlier.
Thanks to Zdena for helping me. I will try to arrange a further inspection in about 10-12 days time and again I will require an assistant.
Nest Box inspection 11/05/14
Chrissie, Alan and I carried out a further nest box inspection today. Again we inspected only the newer boxes. Of the 23 boxes (excluding the one with an old wasp’s nest), we had:
– 1 with 7+ chicks (species not yet identified);
– 8 sitting adults (6 blue tit, 2 great tit);
– 1 lined nest in a box that was empty on the previous inspection;
– 6 partially built nests that had not progressed since last time (presumably abandoned);
– 7 empty.
So 10 active nests out of 23 boxes seems pretty good.
Although we had pincers for extracting the clouts from the modified older boxes, they were just too hard to pull out without disturbance to any birds inside. So it looks like we will have to skip the older boxes this season and then, when cleaning out in the autumn, extract the clouts and drill larger holes.
Nest Box inspection 21/05/14
Simon and I carried out a further inspection today. No surprises. All 10 active nests had progressed. There are now 9 with young at various stages of development (2 Great Tit / 7 Blue Tit) and 1 with eggs (previously a lined nest with no eggs). Numbers of young seemed a bit low, but it was not always possible to count them accurately or see if there were eggs still present.