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.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The soap opera continues

There are some people in this world who think they know everything. I met one of them yesterday but we'll skip over that episode. There are some people who think that I know a lot about Wood Warblers. In occasional moments of stupidity I think that I know a bit about Wood Warblers. Then there are days like today which prove unequivocally that I know absolutely nothing.

The first half of the day was utterly fruitless. Almost all of the birds that I looked for had vanished and all I had to show for my efforts was a Blackcap nest with five 4-day old chicks that I found by accident. The only Wood Warbler I found (apart from Wet Ditch pair which are still ok) was a male that I know has a mate - or at least he did have two weeks ago. I watched him for an hour and he just sang. Not full song so maybe he still has got a mate but surely she would come off to feed at some point within an hour?

I moved to the next location along the track, where I thought the male possibly had a mate. Sure enough, as I arrive, alarm calls. I get on the female and she's colour ringed. I note the combination but concentrate on finding the nest before checking the combination. She has four eggs which is fairly typical for a second attempt. Then I check her colour rings and ..... she's the successful female from Log Ditch nest! I know that failed birds divorce and often try again with a different male but I've never known this to happen with a successful female before. Is it because she only reared two chicks? Is it that the male can look after just two chicks on his own? Did the chicks die soon after fledging? The one think I do know is that she's picked another good site. It is protected on one side by a fallen Western Red Cedar

and the nest is well hidden under thick moss and an old dead branch in front of the camera. This will be called 'Fallen Cedar nest'.

A hundred yards or so down the track where there had been an apparently unmated male and again I hear alarm calls. By the time I get round the back of some dense trees, the calls seem to be coming from further in to the wood so I track them and there's a colour ringed male with a female. I never got a 100% positive ID on the colour rings but he appears to be one of the young from last years 'Hatching' nest and this is the first time I've seen him anywhere this year. The apparently unmated male that had been in this area was definitely unringed! I eventually find the nest and she also has four eggs.

I walked back to the main track and just where I originally thought the alarm calls were coming from, there is 'Son of Hatching nest' alarming again, and so is a second bird. So is he actually 'Dirty Den' with two females? It's not clear because there is a brief interaction between the two birds and one heads off fast back towards Fallen Cedar nest while Dirty Den heads off to the nest I've just found. So was that an interaction between the two males? If it was, why were they both alarming when I was a long way from either nest? As I said at the beginning, I know nothing.

Unfortunately, I did get one thing right; my fear about the chances of Barbeque Tree nest. Sure enough it has been predated and I guessed what the predator was from the state of the nest. I'm sure none of you need any help identifying this one.

The time on the camera is accurate and is surprisingly early.

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