Saturday, June 18, 2011

Getting eggcited

Keeping tabs on breeding birds needs a tidy and accurate notebook, good planning skills, a fairly good idea of how long these eggy and birdy things take to come to fruition, together with an awareness of how the weather and similarly unpredictable events can impact breeding success.

So I set out early to first check the Swallows at Hambleton this morning where I found 2 nests with youngsters the ideal size to ring and then a third nest with tiny young. A fourth nest used last year but not so far this year had a new feather lining ready for the adult to lay; a final nest in Molly the Border Collie’s stable contained eggs in the process of hatching with the adult sat tight, squeezed in the gap between roof and nest. A nest full of youngsters I ringed last week was pretty much bursting at the seams with young Swallows on the verge of fledging.

I ringed nine young with two nests to go back for on separate days next week, followed by a look at already used but now empty nests, and then a check for the second wave of eggs.

Swallow

Swallow

Swallow

Dunnock

A little drive and I was at Out Rawcliffe and checking Tree Sparrow boxes, perhaps the species with one of the untidiest nests of all birds. I put several new boxes up last week and already one of those boxes had an almost complete nest but no eggs yet, so I reckoned the pair of sparrows must have watched me load the ladders back on my car and then immediately set to with nest building. Unfortunately from the other boxes there was only one nest with any mini dinosaurs sizeable enough to ring, and then only one chick in a nest containing 4 un-hatched eggs; the large size of the single youngster told me that the remaining eggs could not hatch out now. It’s easy to speculate if the inclement weather of recent weeks is the cause of such failure but we simply don’t know for sure.

Tree Sparrow nest

Tree Sparrow chick

All the time I climbed and checked the boxes I heard the Curlews calling excitedly from the field beyond. It wasn’t so much calls of display, but rather cries of warning to youngsters hidden in the long grass close by. As I went to investigate, both adults went absolutely bananas at me, as only parent Curlews do, circling overhead and calling incessantly, all the while trying to lead me away from the chicks.

Curlew

Curlew

There wasn’t much point in looking to ring the youngsters as once the adults landed in the field I could barely see them, never mind pinpoint small chicks. Another visit next week should hopefully produce more young Tree Sparrows, and if the farmer has cut the field I may just catch up with more young Curlews like these from last year.

Curlew chicks

19 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

Amazing photos. You work hard at the banding, too! Well done.
my critters !

Kay L. Davies said...

Love all the tiny ones, but the curlew chicks are entirely too cute for words. Thanks, Phil.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Jidhu Jose said...

so cute shots

Chris said...

Very nice post. I thought it was kind of bad to handle chicks from anest because of our smell ;-) ? Isn't it?

Kate said...

What a terrific banner!!

Kay said...

How interesting! I liked the peek into nests.
Kay

Powell River Books said...

We have a Barn Swallow nest over our porch that has been used for the last five years. We've had to help support the nest and protect the chicks from falling on the "hot tin roof." We just love to watch them and their families grow. - Margy

Phil said...

Hi all and thanks for your kind comments.

Chris, Handling nestlings is a proven way to gain masses of information on birds. If it was harmful it would not produce the wealth of knowledge we have about what happens to first year birds and their subsequent lives. Are you thinking of deer?

Chris said...

Hi Phil.
To post comments on my new site you have to clic on COUNT. I do not know why it is named COUNT for the moment and I hope I will be able to change that....
If you also clic on "Lire la suite", it will bring you to the comments page...
Hope this helps...

Lana Gramlich said...

All of the chicks are so adorable! Thanks for sharing. :)

mick said...

A very interesting post. Such work would definitely require accuracy and planning - plus dedication! I would say! The Curlew chicks are fascinating. The call of the curlew sounds rather different from the ones that come down here - N.madagascariensis.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Happy Father's Day Phil and what a wonderful presentation.

The Swallows are glorious, just simply little stunners. That sure is an unkept nest that the Sparrows threw together, yet charming as well;)

The Curlews are quite interesting looking birds too~

Ladynred said...

I so love all the bird chicks! They are so cute!

grammie g said...

Hi Phil...I know ..do say it...every time I turn around there is another bird blog lol!!
I have good excuses for not coming by to visit...I had to mow that almost 2 acre golf course I have for a lawn (by riding mower that is)...clean the pool ...no not for me, but for my outside Gold Fish pool, and found some holes in the liner so had to fix all that while you have been hanging out with those wild chicks all over the countryside...I hope your wife knows that!! hahaha

Great post my friend ...love seeing and hearing about how those House Swallows are doing..hahaha!!

gwendolen said...

Very cute baby swallow. LOL at mini dinosaurs :-)

Paco Sales said...

Excelente reportaje de jovenes polluelos amigo Phil, sigue con tu buen y hermoso trabajo, recibe un abrazo amigo

Seasons said...

The thing that first caught my attention about your blog (and still does) are all the beautiful, and sometimes rare pictures. Then I have noticed some great information. And the most important thing is your love for birds.
Thanks Phil, for including the sound clip of the Eurasian Curlew. The Curlew chicks look adorable.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Nice collection!

Larry said...

Great post Phil! It is a lot of work keeping track of all you do in the field and I'm sure very rewarding. I love that shot of the swallow chicks emerging from the nest and the baby Curlews are beautiful. Thanks for adding the sound clip too!

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