Thursday, June 17, 2010

Success and Failure

I went to check some outstanding Swallow nests at Hambleton and a single unfinished one at Out Rawcliffe. The weather has been so good that I am hoping for a bumper breeding season of Swallows.

Swallow

Swallow chicks

At Hambleton the earliest nest of the season was well on with a few of the biggest of the brood exercising their wings on the edge of the muddy construction as the parents busied themselves with bringing in food. A second pair had tiny young whereby I will go back in a day or two. A further nest I had doubts about has definitely been deserted at the egg stage and others are still at a similar phase, including one that was only lined with feathers last week. So in the overall total that latter nest will counts as a gain, at least at this stage.

Swallow chicks

Swallow chicks

Swallows

Swallows

Swallow

I checked a nest in an open fronted old garage and found it predated where a week ago there were five warm eggs indicating incubation. I suspect it was our old pal the Magpie as they do hang around the buildings to grab a meal from the chickens, the horses or the dogs. Of course I have no proof but I am afraid the Magpie’s reputation as a nest thief precedes it. When I checked the chicken shed where the door is left open all day, I was most upset to find another nest devoid of the young I was expecting to ring; there was no point in looking for the nest contents on the wooden floor already covered in chicken feathers from the shed dwellers. As one might expect it appears that the Swallows which nest in buildings where they gain access through a door or window ajar, or a hole in the building’s fabric or construction fare better than those that choose a more open location potentially open to predators.

I motored on to Out Rawcliffe where I checked in a secure building, one nest from 10 days ago to see the young large and ready to go, an obvious success again. At a second nest from where once again I expected to ring chicks from the 4 eggs of 10 days ago, the evidence of more predation lay on the floor, scattered feathers, nest contents and a single dead chick some three or four days old. A mammalian predator could not reach this nest, in the centre of a beam close up to a corrugated roof, but an avian one could as the tumbledown building has no doors or windows to keep them out. In this case I suspect a Little Owl, resident locally and a species known to take Swallow nestlings.

Naturally I will continue checking and monitoring these nests, the information gained for the BTO Nest Record Scheme is invaluable to the overall picture of what happens to our Swallows, the successful or the not so lucky. I wish more people would do nest records, not just for Swallows, but for any nesting species they come across during the course of their birding. And anyway my nest recording also helps me to get a few photographs.


Swallow

6 comments:

Mary Howell Cromer said...

These are OUTSTANDING and the bottom entry is absolutely STUNNING. Glad that many shall make it~

ilovepink1078 said...

wow, very cute and little helpless. thanks for sharing.

Mapeh Homepage
pinkgpgreen

Unravel said...

We don't get any magpie around here where I live, but there are lots and lots of crows. I actually don't really understand why a pretty clean country like Japan has this large number of crows. They are also the main threats to the failures of the nests.

Jon Storey said...

Excellent shots! Our swallows have suffered over the last few years, the weather on the continent and predators seem to be the most likely causes.

We are down to just one pair this year but they have hatched five or six chick so fingers crossed.

Paco Sales said...

Muy buena serie de fotos, nos acercas el principio de la vida de estas maravillosas avecillas, felicidades y un abrazo

Kimberley W. said...

This is a fantastic post with great photos!

Related Posts with Thumbnails