The Bird Box Diary
March - 2002
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2 March - We seem to be having a pause in the proceedings at the moment. The female continues to make visits to the box throughout the day, doing the 'shuffle' on several visits, but I have seen no further nesting material brought in.
As an aside, I have been to my local camera shop today and invested in another digital camera, an Olympus C-2100UZ. Hopefully, its image-stabilized x10 lens will allow me to get more bird pictures for the diary.
3 March - This morning's activities have continued to be low key.
After numerous short visits, she has just left the box (10.20am) after spending over ten minutes there, seemingly resting. When she does this she always chooses the right (Southern) side of the box which is least affected by daylight.
She has rearranged the materials a couple of times this morning, and when she left after her rest period she took with her the small light coloured piece that you can see in the bottom left of the picture. She removed another small bit as she left after her last visit of the day, some time after 3pm.
4 March - A late start to the day saw the first visit to the box around 9am. Numerous visits followed, with their frequency increasing after 10.30am.
Just before 11am she brought in some thin bits of straw and then, in quick succession three more deliveries of moss. A pause followed before another bit was brought in at 11.20am.
Away from the box, this Blue Tit spotted the mealworms put out for the Robin and Blackbirds. The mealworm was carried off to eat in the Hawthorn after its head had been pecked off.
I don't know if it is one of 'our' Blue Tits.
5 March - A day of very little activity. I did not see more than a handful of visits, and the nesting material has hardly been touched.
There were certainly Blue Tits about in the garden and they came to feed frequently.
6 March - I was not around for most of the day, but looking at the nest box it is obvious tonight that very little has happened today - I saw some visits first thing this morning.
The webcam seems to be playing up again. The images are being uploaded to my web space but I cannot access the webcam page via my laptop, which uses a regular 56K modem connection. Does this mean that others cannot see it either? It looks as though another phone call to my ISP helpline may be needed if it does not put itself back in order. I need to get it sorted before serious nesting gets going.
7 March - A sunny, mild morning does not seem to have spurred the Blue Tit into building action as yet, although feeding continues.
She has made a number of early morning visits to the box during which she did her tummy shuffle several times to push the nest contents against the front, but as the morning has progressed those visits have become infrequent.
8 March - I saw small amounts of moss being brought in during a sequence of visits shortly after 11am. The session did not last long, and there were only a few visits to the box in the afternoon.
The picture shows the state of the box at the end of the afternoon.
There will be no diary entry tomorrow.
10 March - Just a quick note to say that in the day I have been away there appears to have been little or no change in the quantitiy of nest material in the box. Since my return earlier this afternoon there have been no visits seen.
11 March - On a damp morning, here is a webcam image from the first of three visits seen so far (written at 9.50am).
She carried out a couple of these sweeps, pushing the moss against the front of the box. Nothing was brought in and nothing taken out at these visits.
It is a year to the day that serious nest building started in 2001, although it did not happen until the last week of March in 2000.
After writing the first part of today's entry I saw her bring in a couple of very fine bits of grass(?). However, while I was out in the garden lunchtime, a very big bit of straw was brought into the box, raising the possibility that she was about to get serious.
Following that delivery, several more deliveries of small beakfuls were brought in during the following half-hour, although these did not add up to a big contribution to the nest.
12 March - This morning has followed a familiar pattern. After a first visit at about 7.40am, the box saw a few more in the next few hours. Then, just before 11am the female arrived with a bit of moss. Over the next 15 minutes she returned six times with more nesting material.
Following that burst of activity nothing else was seen in the box for the rest of the day.
13 March - A cold, dull and damp morning after a wet night has seen , I think, only one visit to the box before 11am. As I write this a Blue Tit has visited the mealworm feeder and there is another one eating a sunflower kernel in the Hawthorn.
At 2pm the box shows no sign of any further visits.
14 March - At 11am this morning I am still waiting for any signs of action in the nest box - there have been no visits that I know about in over 24 hours now. I am wondering whether the present weather is not encouraging thoughts of nesting.
Yesterday the temperature hardly reached 7C and at the moment it is just over 5C. Outside there is a strong, bitterly cold easterly wind and there is some snow falling, although it is disappearing on contact with the ground - last year the snow waited until the 20 March! Reading last year's diary again, the cold weather then also caused a virtual halt to progress for a couple of days.
At 11.25am the female made a quick visit - a glance around the box and out again! The snow has been replaced by rain.
15 March - Another cold, but less windy morning (<7C) and the rain is pouring down - thoroughly horrible, and no action in the box so far (at 10.45am). The BT's are coming to feed.
Sometime, shortly before 3pm The female must have visited the box and done some 'house-keeping' as some of the straw has been pushed to the front of the box. I missed the action as I popped to the shops but forgot to ensure the video had enough tape left to cover the time I was out!
The rain has stopped now (3.20pm) and the outside temperature is over 9C.
16 March - An overcast start to the day (temperature 9C), but no rain and no wind at 7.45am, and inspection three visits to the box seen so far.
Housekeeping being done. Hopefully, although it is still cloudy, brightening skies will encourage some action today.
Just before 9.30am the first delivery of the day took place and I have seen six more in the quarter of an hour since then.
Through the rest of the day I only saw one more delivery of straw. The weather cooled and became damp in the afternoon - perhaps this had an effect on the Blue Tit.
17 March - During another morning of good weather there has been a lot of activity, with large 'straw' being brought in. It has been amusing to watch the female trying to organise what is in the box. A couple of times she took pieces back out, only to return with them moments later.
Most of her deliveries took place in a period between 10.30-11.15am. It has gone very quiet again this afternoon.
This image shows a moment this
morning when she arrived with a bit of moss to find the male
on an inspection visit - he left immediately.
Just for the record, this is the state of things tonight, with all the material pushed to the sides of the box.
18 March - A disappointing start to the day - it is raining heavily Despite this, I have seen her make two brief visits to the box before 8.30am.
The rain eased up a bit in the middle of the day but then returned, accompanied by high winds. As a result we saw no progress made at all today.
19 March - It has stayed dry all day and we even had some brightness earlier on. There have been short bursts of activity with long pauses between them.
Around lunchtime the male took a lot of interest in the box and I saw him in there several times (The webcam caught the male in the box several times), each time leaving before, or as soon as the female arrived. When in there he looked around but did nothing to interfere with the nesting material. In addition he had a number of sessions of pecking at the box entrance, even though it is plenty bit enough.
This picture shows the male's bolder face strips as the female enters.
This picture shows the nest tonight, with material piled up around the sides by the female's 'shuffling' leaving the centre almost clear.
Tonight I moved the CCTV camera to a slightly higher position. It will provide a better view as the nest builds up in thickness.
20 March - A dull, damp day with little activity in the box. I only saw small amount of moss being brought in today.
Having moved the camera last night, I may lower it down again tonight as the high viewpoint makes any bird in the box seem very small. I can move it up again as the nest depth builds up.
21 March - A day that turned into a warm, largely sunny Spring day turned out to be ideal for nest building. We saw quite a bit of activity and by the end of the day.
She seemed to concentrate first on quite coarse 'straw'. Later she changed to thinner, long pieces, some of which were obtained from the Ivy tree. During the last session that I watched she brought in only moss.
It looks as though the nest cup will be towards the right (South side) back corner, putting it into shadow during the daytime.
Every so often during the day she would take time to pack the materials towards the sides of the box, as in this picture, using her feet.
The weather forecast for the next few days suggests that it should stay dry and mild - good nesting weather!
22 March - If yesterday was the start of Spring, today has been closer to a typical summer's day (for us) with the temperature at 17C this afternoon. Despite this there has not been a huge amount of activity in the box today.
The first signs of BT's about was at 6.35am when one looked into the box, but it was around 7.10am that the female entered for her first visit.
A little bit later there was quite a bit of displaying going on involving three Blue Tits. It appeared to be two males competing while the female looked on. There was no aggression seen between them, but their wings were being flicked out to the sides and they were moving their heads from side to side as well. By late morning this had finished and I was seeing just the two birds again.
I have been out for several hours, and just after I returned the male entered the box, inspected in his usual way, and disappeared fast when the female entered. From what I can see, only a small amount of moss and other fine materials have been brought in today.
23 March - For much of the day I have been distracted by woodwork/plumbing matters - the Blue Tit has been rather less busy! In fairness to her, she has continued to bring in finer nesting materials, especially moss, and to pack more tightly what is already in the box.
It's best to compare this picture of the nest tonight with the one I took on the 19th to gauge progress. The floor is almost completely covered, and there are signs of some organisation, especially on the right.
After taking this photograph I moved the CCTV camera slightly higher to give a similar view. Unfortunately it does mean that the entrance is no longer visible. I shall see how it works out tomorrow.
24 March - Having taken things relatively easily yesterday, our little Blue Tit has excelled herself today. She has found a good source of moss somewhere over the trees and has been back and fore there in very busy sessions throughout the day. While I have been continuing my task from yesterday, I think it is she who gets credit for by far the greatest effort!
The picture shows her taking a well deserved rest around 3pm.
The webcam image tonight is rather mis-leading. The bottom of the 'nest cup' is still only lined by a thin layer of moss. Last year there was nearly an inch thickness under the cup by the time the first egg was laid, although it soon becomes compacted down.
25 March - Another good weather day has seen continuing good progress, although a trip up to London meant that I missed most of it (especially as I forgot to switch the video recorders on, having got them ready!).
This first picture shows the female in the box this morning. She had already brought some moss in by the time the images was captured.
Comparing the light coloured scratch across that image, just below the text, with the coloured picture taken tonight shows the level of progress. In addition to moss, I see a bit more of the 'rough stuff' has appeared today.
The nest cup is looking well formed and right up against the glass, except for a thin barrier of straw. If this continues, we could have a good chance of seeing the eggs when that stage is reached.
26 March - I have not had much chance to follow progress today so this is just a quick entry with a copy of a webcam image from tonight.
Although the nest has not got much higher today, there seems to have been a buildup on the left side, and the nest cup is rather more exposed.
27 March - As yesterday, I have had little time to watch the box today.
This morning I did see a couple of feathers delivered, which suggested that we were reaching the later stages of nest building. However, for the rest of the day she seems to have returned to collecting moss and other fine plant materials.
Tonight's webcam picture shows only a limited build up of the nest since yesterday. The nest cup appears to have received some padding and looks less deep as a result.
28 March - Today again there has been only limited action in the box. This picture shows one visit when some wispy bits of nesting were brought in at the end of a four hour period during which six other visits saw nothing else added.
This webcam image tonight shows how little things have changed since yesterday.
I'm a bit frustrated with the poor quality of the images grabbed from the video recordings when compared with those obtained last year. I think some video head cleaning may be needed.
29 March - A moment of webcam excitement this sunny morning when the camera caught a moment when the pair were both in the box ( with the male leaving in a hurry)!
Through the rest of the day it seems that only small adjustments were made to the nest. A few more feathers have appeared, but the overall depth of the nest has not changed.
Around lunchtime she spent time working on the nest cup. During this time she left the box four times, each time taking a bit of unsuitable moss with her, three times returning with a feather to replace it. Half an hour later her partner popped in just before she arrived with yet another downy feather.
A couple more visits in the early afternoon brought in some moss and what appears to be a tuft of hair. Her last visit, around 4pm was just a short inspection before leaving for the night.
As the female could choose to start roosting in the box at any time, and then I will not want to approach the box at night, I am including two pictures of the nest tonight. The first gives the 'top' view, looking down into the nest cup. The second shows the front of the nest (normally in the shade) in some detail.
Click on each image to see larger versions
30 March - This morning I had the video reocording from 5am. Sunshine lit up the nest at 7.40am and ten minutes later the female BT made her first visit of the day, settling briefly into the nest cup and making a few adjustments. This was followed by four similar visits before the first wispy bits were brought in around 9.20am. The next quarter hour saw three similar deliveries and one inspection visit.
After seven more 'empty beak' visits the deliveries started around 11.25am. Between then and 1.15pm (when my videos stopped recording) there were 14 more bits of moss or straw brought in. Most ending up in or around the nest cup.
Looking at the webcam tonight, it looks as though a small amount more material was added before she gave up for the day.
The male didn't visit the box while the videos were recording.
31 March - Our clocks were put forward by 1 hour last night and we are now on BST - British Summer Time. This means that when I say that the first visit to the box this morning was at 8.27am, as far as the Blue Tit was concerned, it was actually earlier than yesterday's 7.40am first visit!
During the rest of the day I recorded 42 further visits. Of these only nine were 'empty-beaked'. Moss was the main ingredient, although there were 15 deliveries of fine straw and one of wool or hair.
Lunchtime saw another brief visit by the male (on the right in this picture).
I was surprised how busy his partner was this afternoon, with frequent visits, at times more than one a minute. Then, after fifteen deliveries in just half an hour her visits suddenly stopped for the night just after 5pm - the box is empty for another night.
I should note that once again I am having trouble with the webcam, or rather NTL is. It is not refreshing reliably because the NTL server is not always accepting the updated image from my computer. Perhaps after the holiday it will be sorted!