12 April - The
first egg is laid.
The female's arrival at 5.49am, while
it was still dark out side heralded a step forward this morning.
As soon as she arrived, she
settled down in the nest cup. Perhaps settled isn't the correct
word, as she constantly rotated around, making adjustments to
the nesting beneath her and just a few times, tucking her head
under her wing.
By 6.11am she had settled in
one position, and as it got lighter outside she became very still.
a minute later she started to raise her rear end and make clicking
A lot of straining was obvious
as she went through the moments of 'labour' until the egg suddenly
dropped into the cup at 6.13am. The pictures above shows the
moments before and after delivery, with the moist egg glistening
in the infra-red light.
She remained in her raised
posture for about a minute before she settled again and spent
time head down in the nest. There was then a period of rest before
she left the box at 6.24am, her early morning's work done.
During the day I saw several
visits during which she brought in more nesting, although there
were also numerous inspection visits, like this one, caught by
the webcam at lunchtime.
She was settled in the box
quite early this evening (7.02pm). This webcam image shows her
just about to receive food from her partner. Sod's Law meant
that I had switched the webcam from the wide-angle to the close-up
camera just before he entered.
The video recording gives the
wide-angle view of the same moment as the male offers the food
From now on until all eggs
are laid, I shall be recording the early morning images from
13 April - Egg #2 This morning after peaceful night
our BT woke up around 5.43am. She spent the next eight minutes
shuffling about, turning the egg and tending to the sides of
the nest cup until she stopped moving about at 5.51am.
5.53am she became very still and her breathing became heavier.
A minute later the male started singing in the tree just outside
the box, falling silent just before 5.56, when his partner started
to raise her body up out of the nest cup. She started to make
clicking sounds, each one corresponding to a contraction. At
5.57am, the fifteenth contraction saw the egg being laid. The
picture shows her at the moment the egg 'landed'.
She remained in this raised
position for about two minutes before she relaxed and settled
back down onto the eggs. After a bit of shuffling and egg turning
( pictured here) she rested, sometimes with head under wing,
until 6.10am when she left the nest.
When she returned a little
bit later, the eggs were covered with a feather.
didn't watch (or record) through the morning, but this afternoon
was quite interesting. She had two sessions of nest building,
sometimes bringing in comparatively large amounts. In one half-hour
session just after 3pm she brought straw and moss in seven times.
As she brought in one piece
of moss the male called from outside. She hurriedly dropped the
moss, arched her back, pointed her open beak skyward and vibrated
her wings. He came in with a mealworm which she took immediately.
She had another building session
around 5-5.40pm. This time it was feathers and moss - I watched
her tug furiously at a piece of moss at the side of the small
There was a gap of nearly an
hour before her next, brief entrance at 6.35pm. This was followed
by a longer fourteen minute stay at 6.41pm, and then she finally
entered for the night at 7.17pm.
I put in a clean sheet of glass
14 April - Egg #3 Activity started by 5.30am this morning
as mum started to stir from her sleep and began to shuffle about
in the nest cup. Ocassionally she would pull a feather down from
one of the heaps that have formed to the sides of the nest. These
seem to act as reserves that she uses to pad out the nest cup
as it is gradually compressed.
At 5.38am the male called from
the Birch tree and moments later appeared briefly at the entrance.
He continued to sing for the next few minutes. In the meantime
his partner continued to shuffle about.
By 5.47am she ended up facing
almost South (as she had the last two mornings) and she became
still, with tail held high and head low. Heavy breathing followed
and, as the male restarted his calling (and came to the entrance
again) the clicking started, her body raised up, and the third
egg was laid at 5.49am. It was a less laboured event this morning.
Afterwards, her rest period
lasted until 6am when she pulled down a couple more feathers,
waddled across to the entrance to look out, and after a quick
glance back left the box at 6.02am.
last night my senses failed me and as a result both videos recorded
the view from the wide-angle camera, so no close-ups of the egg
laying are possible this morning. I shall be rewiring the video
set-up to prevent this mistake from being repeated!
Luckily, the webcam image around
10am did allow a peek through the feathers to see the three eggs,
as this cropped image shows.
April - Egg #4 The
song of the Blackbird could be heard soon after 5am this morning,
but it wasn't until 5.20am that our Blue Tit started to move
about, just as the Sparrows began to twitter.
After turning and fiddling
with the sides of the nest cup she became still by 5.31am (facing
SE this time), with her tail up against the glass. After a minute
like this her body started rising up, I think, eight contractions
(and clicks) later the fourth egg was laid. The picture shows
the moment as the egg emerged.
It was two minutes later that
her partner first called from the Birch tree and with a crash
that startled her arrived at the entrance to peep in. He returned
to the tree to sing for the next two minutes as she first paused
in her raised position for a minute, tended to the eggs and then
settled for a rest.
Now it was starting to get
light outside, and with the male was still singing nearby there
was the sound of a couple of ducks ( probably from the Brickfields
Country Park) circling overhead.
5.47am she moved off the eggs to stand near the entrance for
a short time, giving a clear view of the eggs before settling
back on them for another five minutes before leaving the box
At 8am the eggs were still
visible on the webcam, but around 9am she found a supply of feathers
very close by and now the eggs are all but hidden from view.
She seemed to be getting the
feathers from the lot of the Ivy tree, and they included small
flight feathers. I may peep into the box later to see what colour
As I write this she has just
entered the nest with another feather. An interesting feature
of each entry to the box is the little chirp she gives (when
there is something in her beak). Later, when the eggs hatch this
will be the signal for the chicks to raise their heads and open
their mouths ready to be fed.
April - Egg #5 This morning the first signs of stiring
in the nest were seen at 5.05am, although she soon put her head
down again. Her partner made his first appearance at 5.22am,
two minutes after starting to sing just outsde the box. He did
not enter, but stayed at the entrance for two minutes. The picture
shows him looking in out of the dark into what was an almost
as dark box. The female was not impressed and put her head back
under her wing.
Before 5am she was breathing
at around 90-95 breaths/minute. However, around 5.30am the rate
had risen to around 160b/m. The male appeared again at 5.32am
but it was not until she settled down facing the camera (West)
that she went into the egg laying sequence at 5.36am. Stillness,
followed by the rising of her body and a series of twelve clicks
(contractions) preceeded the egg being laid at 5.38am.
As the first signs of dawn
started to show through the entrance she attended to the eggs,
generally shuffled about and rested until 5.45am when she pulled
feathers down into the cup from the piles at the sides of the
box. After pushing these down into the cup and resting a couple
more minutes she left at 5.56am.
Since then she has made a number
of visits to the nest, bringing in more feathers and straw, making
sure that we have not even had a glimpse of the five eggs this
April - Egg #6 was
laid at 5.44am this morning.
This morning's events started
around 5.05am when the Blackbird started singing. The Sparrows
started at 5.15am, a minute before the male Blue Tit started
singing just outside the box. He appeared at the entrance briefly,
but his partner didn't show much enthusiasm.
At 5.43am she became still,
facing South-East and we had a good view of the egg being laid
at 5.45am. After the usual pause and rest she started to pull
feathers down into the nest cup around 6am and left a minute
the last couple of days I've seen the male feeding his partner
a number of times, both in the box and in the surrounding trees.
He was in the box with a mealworm just before 6pm and again five
minutes later, as captured by the webcam (right). Before he arrived
the female had been calling, almost continuously for a couple
The webcam shows something
hanging down on the left side of the image. This is a bit of
straw that has somehow been caught up in a spider's web high
up in the box.
April - Egg #7 was
delivered at 5.38am.
With the Dawn chorus well under
way before 5.15am our BT mum started to become active around
5.18am. Her breathing increased quickly from a rate of just under
100 breaths/minute while asleep to over 150br/m, a rate maintained
until after egg laying.
The male was later this morning,
first call heard at 5.33am and again at 5.37am (but remaining
unseen), just as his partner started to go into the last stages
of egg laying labour. This time she was facing towards the camera
After the usual minute's pause,
she tended to the eggs and then rested until she started to tuck
feathers down into the nest cup at 5.55am. Two minutes later
she climbed wearily(?) out of the nest cup, staggered to the
entrance (picture) and left.
In the late morning she spent
a long time sitting on the eggs. Later in the day only occasional
visits were made, with nesting material continuing to be brought
in. She was back in the box for the night before 7pm.
19 April - Egg #8 Delivery a few minutes earlier, at
Our BT did not stir until after
5.25am this morning. Her breathing rate increased quickly but
she remained 'snuggled down until after 5.30am. Her partner arrived
at the Birch tree for a brief call at 5.26am and again at 5.32am,
as she went into her egg laying posture (facing West). He did
not come to the entrance.
she had laid the egg the minute's pause was followed by a lot
of attention to the eggs and the nest cup before she rested again.
At 5.50am she climbed out of the cup, stood at the side of the
nest, looking very unsteady, and then flopped back down again.
After a pause she suddenly got up and headed for the exit, leaving
the box at 5.53am.
The picture gives a tantalizingly
brief view (just about!) of the eight eggs as she gets ready
Mum spent quite a bit of time
sitting on the eggs during the late morning. She has been fed
several times - usually she calls, and the male flies down to
the mealworms, selects one, prepares it (removes head and digestive
tract), and then flies to the box to present it.
He is not always prompt in
his response and this gives us a chance (as this 12.04pm webcam
image shows) to see the eggs uncovered as mum goes out to get
her own food.
I haven't gone through the
videos recorded through the day, but it has been obvious that
she has started to incubate the eggs. She is safely tucked up
in there tonight, and it will be interesting to see what happens
20 April - Egg #9 (Perhaps!) A relatively quiet start this morning,
with the male not being heard until 5.30am and then not very
near. His partner slept on for another five minutes before becoming
a bit active, fiddling with the eggs and the sides of the nest
By 5.35am her breathing had
risen from a night-time rate of around 97b/m to 120b/m. The male
appeared at the entrance at 5.40am without warning (no calls
first), looked in and left. Then, at 5.42am she suddenly lifted
her body and started to 'click' as she started having contractions.
We could not see anything of an egg but there was the normal
pause, holding her body in the raised position before she had
a busy few minutes tending to the eggs. We replayed the video
sequence several times to be sure, and there was the definite
sound of egg hitting egg as she had the final contraction.
She rested between 5.49am and
the time she got up and left at 6.01am.
When she left only seven of
the eggs could be seen and by 6.45am they were all completely
covered as she made a number of visits, bringing feathers.
The picture shows the nest
cup as I write this at 8.54am, and she has just brought in yet
another small feather!
At 9am, I've only just been
down to turn on the daytime lighting in the box. In passing,
I had a look at the spot where there was a Sparrowhawk kill two
days ago. There are very few feathers left there now. Even that
event has provided benefits for other birds. I wonder if it has
been utilised by our BT.
Up to lunchtime there have
been no further opportunities to count eggs (just too many feathers).
A short time ago the webcam
captured this moment as the male 'handed over' a mealworm to