As I have only just started this blog and am bound to be rambling on about blue tits nesting in the garden, I will just give a quick overview of events to date.
We bought a nestbox with camera in February and erected it in a whitebeam tree to replace an old box which had been used most years by blue tits. A pair of blue tits showed immediate interest and this intensified when Spring arrived.
18th - 24th April
Blue tit regularly entering box taking in and then removing small pieces of nest material.
Blue tits seen mating and the female started to take large quantities of nesting material (mainly moss) into the nest box. Feathers were added as lining two days later and the female roosted in the box overnight for the first time.
First egg laid and covered with feathers. Over the following week female laid an egg a day. She covered the eggs with feathers during the day and incubated them overnight.
Female began incubating the eggs day and night and laid one more egg on 5th May. Seven eggs in total.
DRAMAbegan to unfold as noticed in the morning that the entrance hole to the box had been enlarged. The culprit - a great spotted woodpecker - soon appeared to continue with his dastardly deeds. Whilst the female was absent we managed to fix a metal plate to the entrance hole - yes, I know we should have done it earlier but the woodpeckers have been regular visitors for several years and we have never previously experienced problems. All nestboxes will have metal plates surrounding the entrances in future!
Woodpecker continued to return even though he was unable to enlarge the hole thanks to the metal plate. Female blue tit seemed visibly distressed and disappeared for several hours - we thought she had deserted but she returned in the evening to incubate the eggs overnight and thankfully the woodpecker seemed to give up.
RED LETTER DAY
9.00 in the morning the first egg hatched and by 10.00 3 eggs had hatched. Interesting to see female eating the eggshells and male bringing in tiny green caterpillars for the female to feed the young who are already begging for food.
Fourth egg hatched early am. Then the great spotted woodpecker returned and started attacking the metal plate with renewed vigour. I kept chasing it off but everytime it appeared on the nest box the female left the nest for hours. By evening we were convinced she had deserted the nest. Male kept bringing food but seemed unable to feed the young himself and kept calling (presumably for the female). As dusk approached the female actually returned to the nest and started brooding the young. Will they survive all those hours without food?
Blue tit diary is up to date at long last. Unbelievably, the nestlings had survived overnight and the final two eggs hatched today. Whilst the female was away we managed to fix some chicken wire a few inches away from but surrounding the nestbox. Holes are big enough for blue tits to access the nestbox but too small for the woodpecker. The woodpecker has returned several times but seems unable now to access the nestbox and the adults have been feeding the young all day.
GARDEN BUTTERFLIES Three species in the garden today - female brimstone, holly blue and speckled wood.