May - As I write this (at 7.25am) we have passed the time
of the first departure last year, and the chicks are still in
the box. Food deliveries are continuing on a bright morning with
just a couple of heavy showers so far.
At the moment the chicks are
just starting to move around again after a spell huddled in the
nest cup. Around 7am they were very active and looked close to
making the big step. The picture shows one checking out the view
- it soon rejoined the others.
At 10am the chicks are still
with us. There have been some moments when I though the exodus
would start, such as in this image. The moment soon passed and
it returned to the group.
The webcam caught this dramatic
moment soon afterwards. Dad had fed a chick from the entrance
and then leaned forward to collect a faecal sac (white). He lost
his balance and nearly fell onto the chicks.
Around 10.15am there was another
check on the world outside.
Inside the box the periodic
preening and wing testing continues between brief rest periods
and food deliveries.
I decided that it would be
safe to visit the box briefly after 11am, only staying a couple
of minutes I got a couple of images to include. This first one
shows a typical feed from the entrance and all seven chicks (for
a change). The quality is a bit off because I decided not to
risk changing the glass, which is a bit dusty and marked, and
the focusing is slightly off.
The second picture is not for
the squeamish! Having fed the chick concerned, dad is now removing
a faecal sac from the chick's cloaca.
If you look at the enlarged
image you will just make out part of the circle of white feathers
that surround the cloaca. There are better pictures of these
in the third week's portion of last year's Blue Tit Diary.
Click on these two
images to see larger versions
I have just spent a few minutes
hosing down the bit of decking under the mealworm feeder. When
the parents take away a faecal sac they seem to dump it just
before entering the feeder to collect another mealworm.
The chicks remained very active
into the evening. I held my breath when one suddenly got up to
the entrance at around 8.15pm. Now, at 10.20pm they are spending
most of their time with their heads down, although there are
periods of restlessness. I cannot see then taking very long to
start leaving tomorrow morning.
24 May Fledging Day
24 May - It is a very wet morning here in Aldershot.
At 6.36am the chicks are all still in the box although they are
Wing flapping and preening
goes on in bursts of activity. This chick was using its siblings
as a launch pad for some more advanced tests of its wings' capabilities.
Feeding is still frequent.
In fact there has been queuing at the mealworm feeder as another
pair of Blue tit parents have become customers now.
After 7.30am the weather started
to ease up a bit as the rain gave way to drizzle just in time
for the exodus to begin
The feeding visits gradually
decreased and by 7.45am it was obvious that the chicks would
not be staying much longer. Here, a chick makes a flying approach
to the entrance.
Over the next few minutes excitement
levels grew in the box as a second chick flew up to the side,
watched closely by the others.
While the entrance was still
being blocked by one chick, a second chick started pecking at
Finally, the first chick
to leave leaned forwards and left at 7.59am.
As if uncertain about what
had just happened the chicks quickly gathered into a huddled
It wasn't long before a second
chick was at the door and ready to leave,
followed shortly afterwards
by a third fledgling.
A minute later and fledgling
#4 was at the exit, although this one needed a helpful shove
to set it on its way!
There was a slight pause in
the proceedings when a rather wet parent brought in a feed.
As the adult left it was soon
followed by fledgling #5.
The last two chicks then had
a bit of one-to-one attention from their parents.
A few minutes elapsed before
the next chick headed for the door.
As soon as fledgling #6 had
gone mum was back in with food for the last chick, which seemed
more interested in the glass at the back of the box that heading
for the exit.
For quiet a few minutes mum
stayed in the box, ignoring the chick and spending her time foraging
about in and around the nest cup.
Eventually she decided to leave,
and this seemed to point the way for the chick and it headed
for the front of the box.
It looked out but still did
Another feed was brought to
it before it finally decided that the time had come.
At 8.28am this morning our
last chick fledged and brought to an end a process that started
with the parents laying claim to the box around Christmas.
Sadly, we lost two chicks on
the way, but the rest have left looking healthy and, hopefully
with a good start to their all too short lives.
By the time the chicks left
the box the weather was already improving and the rain soon gave
way to brilliant sunshine. It is quite windy, but there is plenty
of shelter for the fledglings in and around the garden.
I spent a bit of time outside
once the box was empty. Several of the flegdglings were perched
in the Birch tree just outside the box. Here is one of them waiting
for a parent.
The leaf cover on the tree
obscured the view most of the time, especially as the leaves
fluttered in the wind, but I managed to catch this glimpse of
a second fledgling getting a feed from dad.
Click on these colour
images to see larger versions
Since the chicks' departure
there have been numerous visits to the box by the adults, especially
At 2.30pm I have not been able
to see any of the youngsters for several hours now. The sunshine
has given way to strong, gusty winds, dark clouds with a threat
of rain again - there has been hardly any rain since early this
I will be keeping the webcam
going for at least the next week just to monitor further visits
like this one, and to see if it is used for night-time roosting.