Two long and busy days. Amongst the plants and insects, I still have photo's to sort and specimens to identify so I'll limit myself to an avian update.
In my last posting I mentioned how 'The Widower' has reappeared and that I'd spent some time looking for his nest without success. The following morning I went to have another look and there was a male singing about 50yds up the track from where the Widower had been. But he was singing constantly like an un-mated bird. I went to have a look at him and he has colour rings! He is ring number DBY512 and was ringed as an adult on 3rd July 2011. In 2012 he was sighted outside my study area (but still within the New Forest) at Burley New Inclosure. This year he has not been seen at all prior to this sighting so I'm sure he's not been within my study area. I'm also sure that he wasn't there the night before. Another new arrival was singing by the entrance gate where a pair lost their nest to an Adder last year but there have been no Wood Warblers at all this year and I'm pretty sure he's an overnight arrival as well.
DBY512 is the only bird so far that has been seen outside my study area and is also the only colour ringed bird that has been reported to me by someone who isn't involved in the project, apart from the bird seen by a visitor from Hertfordshire that was reported in a previous blog. There must be hundreds of birders visiting the New Forest each year to see Wood Warblers, are they all blind or is it just that they cannot be bothered to report colour rings? I'm sure there must be lots more of my birds somewhere in the Forest and it would be fascinating to find out where they are.
One new nest has been found 'Espanol nest', so named because that territory was used last year by 'Spanish female' - a bird with a strange call. She only has 3 eggs which is pretty poor but not unprecedented for a repeat clutch. Last year, Spanish female really went through the mill, with the camera showing that the nest was almost trodden on by a pony and a Fallow Deer, had a Badger walk within inches on the nest and a Fox hop over it! All this and then she was finally predated by a Jay. This years nest is somewhat better sited and I hope she has a more peaceful time of it.
Cameras have been put on Whitemoor nest and the nest with no name / Dirty Den nest (the jury is still out on his infidelity!) and the battery was changed on Fallen Cedar nest. All are ok. There are other things to discuss about Wood Warblers but this is turning into War and Peace so I'll move on to other species.
This morning I ringed the five chicks in the Blackcap nest that I found by accident the other day.
The nest is in a Holly and is poorly hidden from below but hopefully better hidden from above.
Yesterday evening I visited 'my friends in the north' to ring three broods of Woodlarks. It would have been four but one had recently been predated. The parents were still alarming at our presence but the nest was empty and they were not carrying food. One nest was particularly well hidden.
So far this year I have ringed 27 Woodlark chicks, this time last year I'd done 109 and there was very little difference in effort between the two years. Interestingly, I ringed my last Woodlark chicks of 2012 on 27th June. This year we still have a number of nests with eggs.
Stonechats have also been hard hit this year but we checked on the brood ringed on 17th June yesterday and they are still in the nest. They must be at least 15 days old and really should be out and about by now but I don't think there's any problem, they're just too lazy to go!
I also got an update on the Nightjars. Out of five nests found, two have been predated but the others are ok and we looked at one nest where we could see hatched egg shells just behind the sitting adult. We think the chicks are quite small as when they get bigger you can usually see heads poking out from under the female so we left her undisturbed and I'll have another look on Sunday.