May ‘NestEnders’ update in my patch

As we near the end of May, we begin to move out of the busiest nesting period in my garden. Most of my cameras are on tit boxes and I have had blue tits and great tits in all 5 camera boxes this year. You may have seen some on my live streams. The great tits  successfully raised a healthy 5 chicks, all of which fledged. I currently have two blue tit boxes that are about a week apart; one set will fledge this coming week, the others will need a little longer.

My jackdaw nests have been interesting. As it was last year, both pairs laid 4 or 5 eggs. In both cases all but one egg hatched, but then smaller chicks fairly quickly died, leaving only two. One nest has raised just a single chick and the second box (which regularly appears on my live stream) as 2 healthy looking chicks that will probably fledge this coming week.

You may have noticed that my tawny box has not featured on my website this week. Sadly, this box has not been as successful as the box at Yew View. The male disappeared within a week of the 4 owlets hatching. Despite the female hunting fairly successfully, the 2 smallest owlets died in the first week. The remaining owlets seemed to be doing ok, despite only 1 or 2 prey items in every 24 hrs. My supplementary feeding under the box attracted rats which helped, but they were certainly not growing as fast as the Yew View owlets did, where there were two adults birds hunting.

Sometimes the female only went out to hunt a couple of times and often there was only 1 prey item bought in, in a 24 hr period.  I kept hanging onto the hope that she could manage to raise at least one , but that was not meant to be. Sadly, she deserted the box, after sitting in there for a 24 hr period with a vole in there that she did not attempt to feed to her owlets or eat herself. One of her eyes did not seem to be opening and I wondered if she had some kind of infection. The trouble with cameras is that you get to see everything; wonderful when it is all good… it is not so good when things go wrong.

After she had left the owlets for a whole overnight period and part of the following day, I knew they were going to die. They were cold and hungry. I discussed it with some close friends and experts and decided to remove the owlets and give them a chance. They were taken to a wildlife rescue who had experience in raising owls. Sadly, the smaller owlet soon died. The larger one is feeding well and, if it survives, I am hoping there is a chance it can be released back into the wild here. The female never returned. Maybe she will return nest year with a new mate.

On a happier note, I have 2 wonderful blue tit boxes which are doing really well. My garden is surrounded by mature hedgerows and trees, including oaks so there are plenty of caterpillars around. Due to work commitments, I decided to just document the progress of one box and chose the box mounted on a holly tree opposite my bedroom window and above the lane. I am still not 100% sure how many chicks there are here, as the nest has a really deep cup and it is difficult to see all the chicks together at one time. There are definitely 6… possibly 7!

I have lifted a video clip and stills every day since the chicks hatched. I will combine these together at the end to create something that shows you the incredible growth of chicks from hatch to fledge!

If you visit my website and follow the link on the front page, you will be able to see all the videos and stills that I have lifted so far.

These stills show the change over the last week..

19th May – 7 days old

20th May – 8 days old

21st May – 9 days old

22nd May – 10 days old

23rd May – 11 days old

24th May – 12 days old

25th May – 13 days old

Just look at the change in a  week…

to this….

You can see their wing feathers developing and , in the warm weather this week, they were in and out of the nest cup to try to keep cool. Their coloured plumage is really showing well now, but they still have large bald patched under the wings where feathers have not yet developed.

I will look forward to seeing these beauties around the garden for the rest of the year. The ones in the Hub box, that were ringed last weekend, should fledge this coming week and their rings will make them easy to identify in  and around the garden.