A little bit of spring.. and motorway madness!

Michele held the first frog of the year on Saturday (while I was watching history being made at Turf Moor!) There have been other sightings since. If other years are anything to go by we will have frog spawn followed by another cold snap- it has been known for Michele to put the spawn in buckets and bring them into the house until the worst of the weather is over!

We have lots of birds depending on our feeders at this time with me topping them up every two days. This morning we had ten-plus gold finches, male and female chaffinch, male bullfinch and the usual mix of sparrows, dunnocks, starlings and blackbirds. We are getting the occasional visit from robins, although very territorial there has been at least three visiting the feeders. Yesterday we had long tail tits, only the two when we have been getting six or more in the raiding parties.

The bulbs are on the way up with the snowdrops flowering.

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We have had regular visits from one of the foxes, I think it is the more nervous, unsure one of the two. Speaking of foxes I’ve written to Lancashire County Council highways department about the barrier on the nearby M65. The central reservation now has a continuous concrete barrier that has no gaps at all. On either side of this are the remains of two foxes presumably trapped when trying to cross the motorway. I have heard nothing back as yet but will continue to push for some gaps that will allow any wildlife a chance to get through.

Hello 2017!

A new year and a new resolve- to keep up the blogging! I know it has been a good while since my last blog but from now on in there will be more posts (sorry!) It isn’t that there has been nothing happening in our little patch of England; the fox has been coming almost nightly, we have bird feeders that have been emptying every other day (all ten of them!) Retirement isn’t the life of leisure that I expected!

One thing I have been meaning to do is do a photo audit of the garden, detailing all the growing things as well as the flying and peanut eating things.

So a little detail.

On the bird front we have the usual flock of goldfinches, what we believe to be the two blue tits that fledged last year, not one but two gold crests and the perennial blackbirds, starlings and robins.

The great and coal tits are here less than they were a few months ago. Of great concern was the absence of greenfinch- until today when a single bird turned up for its lunch.

As I say the fox has been here every night, almost without fail. As you can see in the first video we had a nice surprise on the 5th of December- well have a look! I still have to investigate just how many foxes have been coming, not only this past year but over the years before. I am pleased that the fox continues to visit as the builders are on the back and almost to the back of our hedge. We are going to push for wildlife corridors around our neighbourhood with both builders and new residents. The fact that we have had badgers, foxes and hedgehogs show that mammals are getting about, possibly from the valley below where we live where there are many habitats such animals can thrive.

More to follow!

And so it goes… Wednesday 8th

This is the final report on the blue tit saga.

We had expected the chicks to fledge on Monday or Tuesday of their week. When we checked them on Sunday night the four survivors were huddled up in pairs, mum again electing to roost outside the nest box. The birds were perfect, smaller versions of their parents; they had good wing feathers and the tail feathers had developed over the past few days. When I put the TV on on Monday morning there was just one living bird and one dead bird in the nest. We are hoping that two had fledged and that the mother bird had at least succeeded in getting two of the nine to live on. The living bird in the nest did not look good and despite mum calling it to come out over the next two hours it sadly passed away.

We spent hours looking for the two missing chicks- it may be they were in the box and we just couldn’t see them. Like I say we are hoping that they are out there in the trees still being looked after by their mother.

It was sad to hear on the Spring Watch TV program that when a single bird spends so much energy trying to rear a nest of chicks they use so much energy that they too will not last the summer out!

I’ve disconnected the camera from the recorder and we have said this is the last time we put ourselves through this! But as Michele said we did promise this last year!

Life is so precarious and nature can appear to be so cruel but it happens whether we are there to witness it or not!

But life goes on and no doubt the fox will keep coming and with any luck the badger will arrive again. We have just had the bull finches in the garden and I may just have a bio-blitz one day (a bio-blitz is where you exam every inch o the garden and record all the life in it from the tadpoles in the pond to the very large pine tree that used to have Christmas decorations on it 50 years or so ago!)

I will say thank you to Roger who suggested I put the date on the top and daughter Vicki who proof reads and spots all my typo’s!!

Isn’t Nature, and Life, Wonderful?

We had our first blue tit chicks hatch this morning. I put the tv on to see the camera when I got up this morning to see the male bird bringing in food for the female. She then set about turn the eggs, much as she has done for the past ten days or so.  When Michele went in to look thirty minutes later a number of chicks had hatched!

Shortly before 10.00am I put on the recorder and managed to get the male again feeding the female who then passed the fecal sacs to the male to dispose of. He will get rid of them well away from the tree so that predators  will not find the nest. The fecal sac contains the chicks poo and help keep the nest tidy.

All the signs are good- he is helping with the food allowing the female to stay on the nest, the weather is not too cold and there are plenty of insects and caterpillars about! So fingers crossed this year!

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Birds and Mammals

Our nesting blue tits are looking very promising. Last year the nest, and newly hatched chicks, were abandoned possibly due to a shortage of insects. Also all the time she was sitting on the eggs we did not see the male bird feeding the female at all. This week we have seen Mr Blue Tit coming into the nest box regularly with big fat grubs and caterpillars!

We are not sure on the number of eggs she has laid and is now incubating. There are definitely eight, possibly nine- I think I may have seen a tenth! Which means she started laying earlier than we thought!

During the night we had the camera out and were able to see a lot of activity in the garden. I had seen the fox and the hedgehog but sharp eyed Michele saw a third visitor for the first time this year!

 

 

So Egg-cited!

We have an egg… and snow!

As predicted the blue tit has laid her first egg, five days after first roosting!

We have also had snow this morning, a good covering that started to melt but has seen more snow and sleet coming down. Hopefully when she has finished laying her ten or so eggs and incubated them the wether will have warmed up and insects will more abundant!

 

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Our first egg of 2016
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Snow covering the bird box

Blue Tits nesting!

The great news this week is that the blue tits are nesting again this year in our camera box!

They nested last year and, perhaps because of a shortage of food, the nest was abandoned when the chicks were very young. Upsetting at the time but this is nature and it is something that happens quite a lot!

Anyway here we go again. The birds were interested in the box in January and were checking it out frequently since then.

On the 18th April the box was quite empty- but not for long! By the 18th the birds were bring in material, mostly moss from the field behind the tree.

On the 22nd she roosted in the box for the first time and now spends each night snuggled down into her nest. Last year it was just five days after first roosting that she played her first egg. We used to get up at 5.30am to watch her lay her eggs- so regular was she that we could set the alarm clock and see the tiny eggs arrive!

By the 23rd they were bring in softer material (last night she came in with a large feather which she didn’t know what to do with at first!) She is coming in all the time now with wispy bits of material ensuring that the nest is well insulated. She spins around in the middle of it all shaping everything into the secure nest shape that will, hopefully keep her eggs safe- after all she can lay up to twelve eggs, one each day!

We also had our two eyed fox visit last night- hopefully you can see that here!

After a quiet few months things are getting exciting and I will keep you up to date with progress on the nest front!

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15th April- one empty nest box