Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Down to Earth

Today I knuckled down to some proper birding in the way of checking nest boxes and finding out where the Swallows are up to. But I really look forward to spending time watching Swallows.

I started at Out Rawcliffe and checked several Tree Sparrow boxes before I found some that hadn’t recently fledged; that’s the problem with taking holidays in May that coincide with early breeders in the UK like Tree Sparrows where in most years early broods of young are big enough for ringing by the first week of May. So I resigned myself to having lost at least four broods as I inspected boxes to find well trodden nest material and no young. However I did ring two broods, a trio and then a foursome with two nests to follow up in a week’s time where the young were too small to ring. Near the village hall I found 2 separate Yellowhammer singing, the usual roadside Whitethroats, and on a couple of farm ponds three broods of well grown Coot. In the outhouse with Tess the Border Collie, a Swallow sat brooding four eggs. At this rate it will soon be autumn!

Tree Sparrow Nestling

Tree Sparrow Box

I also came across another Oystercatcher nest, this time on the ground as it should be, but with two eggs.

Oystercatcher Nest

Sitting Oystercatcher

On the moss proper I found a late Wheatear hanging around a pile of rocks and stones, a place I once caught one, but this bird cleared off smartish, and although the small pile of rocks might hide some tasty morsels, I doubt the bird will now stay around for much longer. I checked out the plantation in anticipation of a ringing session soon where I found at least 6 Willow Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers, several singing Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 3 Reed Buntings, a couple of Corn Buntings, but parties still of Goldfinch numbering 18 to 20 in total. Strangely I didn’t hear any Skylark on the topmost part of the moss and only three further back towards the road; let’s hope they are not a serious casualty of our hard winter but the immediate signs are not encouraging.

Corn Bunting

More animals at the next farm where for the Swallow nests horses provide long, strong horse hair, dogs the insulating hair and chickens the warm feathers to complete the nest; and all three the insects to feed adults and young alike.

Horse Hair, Feathers and Fresh Mud




Nest Lining

More Nest Lining

A Never Ending Task

The adult below had only one tail streamer and looks ready to lose the other one when it breaks.

Adult Swallow Taking A Break

I found four active nests; one with four eggs, adult sitting, two lined nests with no eggs, and a fourth newly topped up with earth but not yet lined.

That all looks like an hour or so on IPMR Nest Records, but just to keep myself in holiday mood I’ll finish with a bird from recent weeks, a Red Kite near Tirant, Menorca.

Red Kite

Wow, I've just noticed the blog clocked up the 100th "follower", someone actually reads this stuff!


Pete Woodruff said...

Well I'm certainly one of your 'Followers' Phil and congratulations on your gaining 99 other's.

Stu said...

I'm a one percenter then...........

NicoleB said...

I already 'follow' you in the google reader.
Why would people NOT want to read this.
You show beautiful photos and explain details.
Most people just don't leave comments for whatever reasons :)

It must be amazing to see all the wonderful species breed and the young ones grow up.
Looking forward to have a closer eye on them whenever we will go back to Europe :)

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