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.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The big switch around has started

After the disappointments of Friday I found it hard to motivate myself to get back to the Forest and so I only got in a few hours on Saturday. Skydiver nest was ok and I installed one of the now available nest cameras. Druggy nest was also ok and I ringed the chicks and female (the male already being colour ringed). Finally I went to change the camera battery on Wet ditch nest. Unfortunately 6 eggs have produced only 3 young and there is no sign of what happened to the others. A check of the camera images shows nothing obvious although with over 10,000 images I did have to scan through them fairly quickly. It is always really annoying when something like this happens and the camera hasn't detected anything, especially on a nest like this where the camera is really close and picks up every movement of the adults. Whether any predator will return for the remaining three chicks will be revealed tomorrow.

It was nice to see that one of the adults was checking that the camera was working properly......

Sunday was a bonus day as it was predicted to be a wash out but in the end there was just very light rain for an hour late morning. I wanted to get around as many as possible of the males / pairs that I hadn't visited recently, in the hope of finding more nests. It started well with a new nest 'Barbeque tree' (as someone has very kindly dumped all their barbeque equipment in a hollow beech tree nearby) which had five young and one egg. It is just possible that the final egg will hatch but I suspect not as I reckon the young were about one day old.

I moved to where the adjacent male had been. Quick burst of song and there is the pair. All looking good but over the next half hour she visited various spots on the ground with him in close attendance and I'm sure they are a new couple and that she was prospecting for a nest site. I saw exactly the same thing with another pair later in the day although she seemed keen on one particular spot which I'll check again in a couple of days.

The (colour ringed) male from the predated Goshawk wood nest has moved to the adjacent wood and was singing strongly in the morning, indicating that divorce had taken place (as it often does after predation) and he was seeking a new mate. However he was silent later in the day so maybe he's still with her. Interestingly, the place he's moved to already had at least a male (and possibly a pair) earlier in the year. No idea what's happened to them.

I spent some time looking for a male that was reported to me by a visiting birder from Hertfordshire. He had photo's of the bird which was colour ringed but the right leg was in shadow so the colours couldn't be seen. It was however not a bird that I'd seen this year so I was keen to find it. Using his map I reckoned it was a bird that I'd heard briefly a couple of weeks ago but hadn't seen. Before I got to the site I heard a 'new' bird singing strongly and sure enough it was the colour ringed bird. It clearly was another bird that had failed in its first breeding attempt and had moved and was now trying to attract a new mate. It gave me the run around for about an hour before I finally got a decent view of it's right leg. It was ringed as a breeding adult in June last year about a kilometre from where it is now. It was the male at 'Tame Robin nest' which sadly fell victim to a Jay family just before they were due to fledge.

Other bits and pieces from Sunday: Larch brash nest had had the last nestling taken as predicted but Bridge nest and Hawfinch wood nest both appear to have been successful (although I haven't checked the camera images yet). I also saw a couple of Prochoreutis sehestediana - a moth I've only seen once before. Both were sitting in buttercup flowers by wet ditches (the larvae feed on Skullcap and Lesser Skullcap) but both were extremely uncooperative in front of the camera.

Today I was stuck in the office but in the evening I went to ring a brood of Woodlarks near Fleet (found by a couple of nest recorders who aren't ringers). A nice healthy brood of four with a back up of a brood of Stonechats (even rarer than Woodlarks this year) and two broods of Redstarts. The guys tell me they have quite a few Nightjars on eggs at the moment so hopefully there'll be some cute Nightjar nestlings on the blog in a couple of weeks! Finally I called in at Odiham Common to see if the Forester moths had finally emerged. After wandering around the meadow for an hour I gave up and headed back to the car, only to have a Forester fly past me. It was even less cooperative in front of the camera (shot off, never to be seen again!).

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