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One for the Ornithologists


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Since retiring/being in Lockdown I have spent more time watching the birds in the garden than ever (including the Woodpecker that wakes me every morning by drumming on the chimney cowl). A pair of blackbirds have got a fledgling hanging around with them. He is a big lad, no wonder with the amount of food they keep on throwing down his throat. They are at it non stop. He/she can fly quite well but his landings are hilarious. He often just bundles into the ground, shakes himself off and then goes about demanding more food. 

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Ok, so the Robin is still sitting on her eggs. I think they must be due to hatch in the next few days. We also have a pair of Blue Tits checking out a nest box next to the Robin's. I was down the shed yesterday morning and wanted to get some slo-mo action shots of them coming and going. What I didn't expect was the male coming straight at me. Nearly pee'd my pants as I thought I'd been rumbled! I'll have to try and post a link as it is too big for the usual upload on here. 

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My robins have really ramped it up! Nest by window young fledged this morning. They were getting very vocal. Can still hear contact/ feeding calls in hedge over road so they doing ok. But! The interesting thing was the parents started building another nest by window sill 3 days ago. Only about 3ft from the first while still feeding young. Couldn't see if they swapped roles. First egg laid in new nest this morning to. I have known them to do this in other years when there is plenty of food. They usually continue feeding young for about a week. and probably bring them back to garden and feeders when they have grown a bit and more savvy. Blackbirds and pigeons nests got predated. Dunnocks blue and great tits still sitting. Greenfinches should hatch this week. Pied wagtail are nesting again nearby and a song thrush over the road. The racket from the rookery over road really noisy, especially at first light. Most young look half grown. Bling jackdaw, with ring still visits garden, mainly early morning. Few swifts about, also hobby checking out same nest site in village as last year. We badly need the rain that's coming my way. Every where so dry and wildlife still struggling. Rooks predated most of newly hatched mallard ducklings again other day. Wish i could of filmed it/got pics as WJ and co say they don't do it. Had loads of people asking advice about birds and wildlife or telling me what they have seen in there gardens/village during lock down. Plenty have had a bit of pigeon on the BBQ for first time. I hope there new found interest  continues.         NB

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18 minutes ago, NatureBoy said:

Every where so dry and wildlife still struggling

Lucky where we are as there is a small river,  but like you say some rain would be nice.

I'm not sure why but there were loads of birds in or around our garden, it was like a meeting had been called, some were feeding most were just in the trees singing. 

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Lot of heavy land my way, and only 8mm of rain since begining of March. Notice rooks, crows,and jackdaws raid gardens, predate nests, young and leverets more in these dry springs we been having as they can't get into the ground easy to feed there young. Rescuing sticklebacks, stone loach and last years fry out of dried up streams in early March. Those same streams were over the banks a lot of the Winter to.  . . . . And don't there singing and the dawn chorus seem louder/clearer with less back ground noise and cleaner air. Maybe you had a insect or caterpillar hatch.     NB     

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1 hour ago, NatureBoy said:

And don't there singing and the dawn chorus seem louder/clearer with less back ground noise and cleaner air. Maybe you had a insect or caterpillar hatch.     NB 

Just watched the weather and it looks like the south should get a good few hours tomorrow.

Your right about the chorus, I was up just after 5 this morning and they were in full flow.

This is what was strange they didn't seem to be feeding,  our Goldfinch's and Greenfinchs were on the sunflower hearts and zipping about but everything else just seemed to be there for the sake of it, I had the big binoculars out enjoying looking at them but couldn't see any reason for the gathering. 

Ain't nature great.

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Aint it just! And we got plenty of time to look at it at mo. Birds prob feel bit more secure now there's more leaf on. Still the hunger gap for the seed eaters. Feeders very busy and topping up daily. Unfortunately the dawn chorus at mine starts with rooks about 4oc  as there nests so high in huge oaks they first to see the crack of dawn. Muntjac been barking lately to.    NB  

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Sad to report that as of this morning the Robin's nest lays empty and cold. I went to check, like I do every morning from the shed, tucked behind some ply and a pair of steps. She was there yesterday, even if I thought she seemed to be somewhat lower in the nest. I thought this was probably due to the nesting material settling down or was it because her eggs were being taken? Using the phone camera, I took my usual photo to see she wasn't there. I went back inside and had my coffee and gave it another 20 minutes or so. I stood at the bedroom window and watched all the comings and goings. The Robins are usually about but definitely no sign of them, although a Magpie did land on the fence which is unusual as they hardly ever come in to the garden. Anyway, that flew off. I went back to the shed and double checked, triple checked before taking the decision to physically check the nest. Nothing! Empty and cold! 

20200428_091336.jpg

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19 minutes ago, Doc Holliday said:

Sad to report that as of this morning the Robin's nest lays empty and cold. I went to check, like I do every morning from the shed, tucked behind some ply and a pair of steps. She was there yesterday, even if I thought she seemed to be somewhat lower in the nest. I thought this was probably due to the nesting material settling down or was it because her eggs were being taken? Using the phone camera, I took my usual photo to see she wasn't there. I went back inside and had my coffee and gave it another 20 minutes or so. I stood at the bedroom window and watched all the comings and goings. The Robins are usually about but definitely no sign of them, although a Magpie did land on the fence which is unusual as they hardly ever come in to the garden. Anyway, that flew off. I went back to the shed and double checked, triple checked before taking the decision to physically check the nest. Nothing! Empty and cold! 

20200428_091336.jpg

hello, thats a real shame, the magpie i expect, let hope they might have a 2nd try

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Let's hope so, although haven't seen hide nor hair of the Robins at all this morning, not even hearing them. I do have another Robin box in the Jasmin about 2 metres away. 

The thing is, apart from seeing the Magpie the other week on the ground and today on the fence, I haven't seen them in the garden at all. I'd have thought that if the got wind of a potential food source they'd have been around a lot more. 

The other thing I'd like some advice on would be how to deter the Magpies in future. Given proximity of neighbours shooting with an air rifle is out of the question, unfortunately. 

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They should try again else where if both parents survived the raid. It's a numbers game with most small birds that why many 2nd or even 3rd brood. 80% of young don't survive first year! Parents only need to replace themselves once in there lifetime (about 3/4 years for a robin) for the population to remain stable. Blue and great tits etc go for the big hit with large broods to time with peak of available food supply like caterpillars. My robins laid another egg in 2nd nest this morning and still feeding young. Two of which they have brought back to garden. Lovely pair of yellow hammers under feeders earlier.😉  . . .First cat in ages has visited last night or early am, as i can smell it. May of been attracted by young calling, or a new cat in the area.😡         NB  

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That's terrible news Doc,,,, I know it's nature, but this cruel side is always gets to me 😞 They will try again as NB says. As for keeping the magpies away,,,, nigh on impossible I'm afraid 🙄 but regarding the air rifle,,,, can you not shoot out of an upstairs window ? Or even a downstairs window if you're not visible ? If yes, just bait an area on the ground with something obvious to the magpies. As for protecting that particular nest box,,,, can you put a slatted screen across the front of it, with spacings to prevent the magpies getting access ? Just some ideas in a tricky situation 🙂

 

Edit to add.... Don't know your exact location, but snakes take birds eggs, and that box doesn't look too roughed up, which a bird predation would usually do ?

Edited by JKD
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18 minutes ago, Doc Holliday said:

Let's hope so, although haven't seen hide nor hair of the Robins at all this morning, not even hearing them. I do have another Robin box in the Jasmin about 2 metres away. 

The thing is, apart from seeing the Magpie the other week on the ground and today on the fence, I haven't seen them in the garden at all. I'd have thought that if the got wind of a potential food source they'd have been around a lot more. 

The other thing I'd like some advice on would be how to deter the Magpies in future. Given proximity of neighbours shooting with an air rifle is out of the question, unfortunately. 

You may be lucky with them. But if they have been disturbed they usually go else where. Nowt you can do to prevent magpies or other corvids. They will risk being garden raiders this time of year as they have young to feed themselves. That why they also time there hatch with the availability of food. Eggs and young of other birds being a big part of that. Garden raiding much worse in dry Springs. Magpies, jackdaws, crows, rooks and Jays all do it! A lot visiting at first light when it's safer and very few people notice or are aware they do it. Squirrels are very under rated nest raiders to! Great spotted  woodpeckers also. Wagtails will destroy/take over robins nests and fight off robins. as they compete for territory. That's nature! By doing what pest control we can we are only tipping the balance more in favour of other critters that are struggling. There are more corvids around now than there has been for decades! Yet far fewer garden and farmland birds. WJ don't seem to of grasped this. They will never be endangered as they have lived alongside/off man for many years and are far to clever.! . . . Something i have noticed different this year is  that there more herring gulls in the countryside at this time . Over and around gardens and surrounding fields. Sometimes all day and even coming to have a look when i am outside. Could this be down to CV19? Not so many folk about in towns dumping takeaways etc? Have heard they have been getting leverets to. Saw two mobbing a buzzard the other day. One got above it and tried/did carp on it.  . . . . This rain most welcome! Garden smells great.       NB

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2 hours ago, NatureBoy said:

Something i have noticed different this year is  that there more herring gulls in the countryside at this time . Over and around gardens and surrounding fields. Sometimes all day and even coming to have a look when i am outside. Could this be down to CV19? Not so many folk about in towns dumping takeaways etc? Have heard they have been getting leverets to. Saw two mobbing a buzzard the other day. One got above it and tried/did carp on it.  . . . . This rain most welcome! Garden smells great.       NB

The numbers that are allowed to be culled was reduced this year, the likes of MacD are shut so they can't scavenge as normal. 

20200428_153828.jpg.5cd338072a2f4850bfc0c24062535506.jpg

This article should have included Gulls as well.

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Well, we still have the hedgehogs and the Blue Tits, for the time being anyway. I saw the female hedgehog this morning (yes, I know, in daylight but she seemed happy/well enough) gorging on the rehydrated mealworms I put out for the foraging birds (we have one Thrush that visits and a pair of blackbirds who are nesting in next door's big shrubby thing. The trouble is the bloody Starlings pig a lot of them and leave their mess everywhere. I've thought about putting up signs saying 'Only 2 Starlings in the garden at a time' to see if that helps. 

The thing with the  Blue Tits is this. They have been visiting the box every morning for the past week. The male is very dominant and there does seem to be a female who only seems to come in 2 or 3 times each morning. Maybe she's laying eggs and he's protecting them and/or defending his territory but they don't seem to be doing much else. He'll clear off mid to late afternoon and then comes back next morning with the female doing her flying visit. He'll regularly land on the nest box and 'peer' through the hole but never goes in which is why I think she is still laying. 

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5 hours ago, Doc Holliday said:

Sad to report that as of this morning the Robin's nest lays empty and cold. I went to check, like I do every morning from the shed, tucked behind some ply and a pair of steps. She was there yesterday, even if I thought she seemed to be somewhat lower in the nest. I thought this was probably due to the nesting material settling down or was it because her eggs were being taken? Using the phone camera, I took my usual photo to see she wasn't there. I went back inside and had my coffee and gave it another 20 minutes or so. I stood at the bedroom window and watched all the comings and goings. The Robins are usually about but definitely no sign of them, although a Magpie did land on the fence which is unusual as they hardly ever come in to the garden. Anyway, that flew off. I went back to the shed and double checked, triple checked before taking the decision to physically check the nest. Nothing! Empty and cold! 

20200428_091336.jpg

why not put some chicken wire around it(not tight against it) to protect from magpies,robins and blue tits will have no problem getting through the mesh,it should protect the eggs/chicks while in the nest

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43 minutes ago, Mice! said:

The numbers that are allowed to be culled was reduced this year, the likes of MacD are shut so they can't scavenge as normal. 

20200428_153828.jpg.5cd338072a2f4850bfc0c24062535506.jpg

This article should have included Gulls as well.

Yeah i saw and followed that case. Not good! Result of there moorland/class obsessed disconnected,blinkered, protectionist agenda. Tried debating with Avery on his blog a while back. He's a snake! Not bother again as have noticed what i said that he didn't like has been removed now. . . . . A mate stills controls gulls hard on local waste dumps under licence. I think the ones out my way are non breeding birds. As appear to be the same birds about all day.  . . .  . Noticed as i breasted my last lot of pigeons today not one of them or the many others i have shot and prepped over the last few weeks has a milky crop. They are definatly nesting and i have noticed this in spring shot birds in other years along with not seeing them gritting on roads like they do later. Put this down as they on a higher percentage of green stuff that does not need grinding in crop and produce milk? . . . .Rooks, gulls and blackbirds all over reseeded pasture at back of mine now it's raining. Several pigeons and a few hares on there every day.         NB 

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9 minutes ago, andrewluke said:

why not put some chicken wire around it(not tight against it) to protect from magpies,robins and blue tits will have no problem getting through the mesh,it should protect the eggs/chicks while in the nest

That box will probaly not get used again this year, it is fairly exposed. I would move it or train that shrub beside it or a creeper it over it and hope for the best in that position next year. They'l still find it if it's covered. If you do leave it in hope remove that nest after a day or two of no activity so others may use it.     NB

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Nest box is too exposed - can I suggest you grow a climber in front of it? If the parents survived (most likely) they will remember the nest box site, you could try Passiflora or a similar fast growing plant A climber with thorns would be even better, we have a Passiflora in front of our box and despite it being at least 18 inches thick, the Robins still nest in it every year.

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Well, the plan was to remove the Pyracantha we have there as it hasn't done too well and replace it with another Jasmin as that grows quite quickly giving good cover but the Robin had taken up residencebefore we could action that. All the growth of the Pyracantha is at the top and not that thick either. I had moved the nest boxes last autumn as they were on the north side of the shed for the last 6 years with no sign of interest or takers. The position they are in now is Northeast facing and gets a good amount of shade from late morning onwards. Mrs H said the Magpie was in the garden this afternoon as it left its calling card. She said she thought one of the ferals that comes in was constipated as there was a good sized **** around the pergola (she likes the ferals coming in as they clear up the seed all the other birds knock out of the feeders). I may put the old leaf print gear on and lay in wait where the neighbours can't see. I don't want to go changing anything down there just yet in case that upsets the Blue Tits. I'm sure she is laying eggs. 

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I always thought Robins to be fiercely territorial but we have five that are quite happy to share the bird bath. One sits in the large laurel bush and gives it large to the dog though. 

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