Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Early breeding season signs

Springwatch started this week which gives us a great idea of how the breeding season is going, not just from their location (NT Sherborne, Gloucestershire) but from across the country as the public send in their reports. Of our summer visitors, especially hirundines, many are arriving later and in lower numbers than previous years. 'Our' house martins are in reasonable numbers this year (around 12 birds is the most I've counted), possibly better than 2017, but still much lower than when we started here at Feathers in 2010. I think there are also 5 pairs of swifts back in the church, although they arrived at least two weeks later than last year. We see a pair of swallows regularly so presume they are nesting nearby but once again they aren't any nesting on the farm.

Of our resident breeding birds, the starlings in our nest box were earlier than last year, fledging on the 14th May, although our first juvenile birds visiting the nature area were on the 11th. One of the earliest breeding species is the mistle thrush and we saw fledglings in the car park on the 20th April. Of other species nesting on the farm, we've seen juvenile sparrows, goldfinches, greenfinches, great tits and the first of the baby blue tits today, all of which seem roughly on time, although certainly not in good numbers.

Unfortunately, the timing of fledging the nest has coincided with stormy weather with many spells of heavy rain and thunder this week across the country. This will certainly have a negative impact on the survival rate of many young birds. We would expect the feeders to be busier than they are too, with suet balls and blocks unsurprisingly proving the most popular at the minute (high energy content) but sunflower hearts and peanut consumption is very slow. I hope for many species that second broods will be more successful.

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