Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Old habits die hard

And so do bad ones. Bad habit number one - staying up too late so you don't get up early. When I finally made it to the New Forest I wandered round a woodland block that I know to hold at least 10 pairs of Wood Warblers. The only song from any of the males was a bit of sub-song from one individual. Everything else seemed to be having time off as well and the woodland was virtually silent.

After lunch I went to install the first three nest cameras on Wood Warbler nests. One camera went on 'Fir twig tent nest' which now has 6 eggs (4 on Tuesday when last checked). This was when bad habit number two came to light - not checking stuff. I forgot that the monitor needed 8 batteries and I only had 4 with me. So I just had to point the camera in the right general direction and hope that it's ok until I change the battery in a few days.

The next camera went on 'Repeat wood nest'. Named as the pair in this wood two years ago tried again after the first nest was predated when they had young. This is unusual, they'll often try again if they fail when with eggs but rarely when they fail with young.

The camera can be seen pointing at the nest (hopefully!) but I ended up moving it back a bit as the female was reluctant to return to the nest.

The final camera went on 'Crossroads nest'. This had two eggs on Tuesday but she had six today and had started incubating so it was safe to put a camera on - I need to wait until she's incubating so I can ensure she will return to the nest when the camera is there.

The nest is under the tuft of dead bracken in the centre. The photo was taken before the camera was installed.

The bad news from today was that I'm now sure that 'Treecreeper nest' female is dead. This was the nest I checked on Tuesday that had no eggs. Well it still has none and the male is still singing strongly. It feels like the loss of an old friend as she was colour ringed last year at her first nest which was predated. She then moved a couple of kilometres and teamed up with a new male and managed to rear a small brood of three late in the season. I remember doing the chick provisioning data collection in monsoon conditions and having great respect for her efforts.

Bad habit number three - twitching. News came through during the morning of a Roller at Broxhead Common. Now I rarely twitch birds these days but it was a Roller, and I've never seen one in Britain, and it's on a site that I used to manage. Ok, so I cracked and went for it. It was fairly distant but gave good scope views and I got a few very poor record shots.

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