Nestbox Diary - 2007

June(part 1)

Box 2 - hatching,

& the Martins arrive??? 

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The four eggs in box 21 June - The eggs in box 2 were laid between 21-24 May. With an incubation period of about 13 days we can expect to see the chicks hatch on or around the 6th, so not long to go.




Both parents in box 2



Both parents are attentive, with change-overs sometimes very leisurely events. Here, the male (I think) is bringing a feather to add to the nest cup as he arrives to take his turn at incubating the eggs.



Today's better weather has brought the Swifts back to the neighbourhood, and I was pleased to see that our neighbours' roof space was being visited again.  I saw them being pestered by a Starling on one occasion - I had hoped we'd seen the end of that.

Another encouraging sign was the appearance of a couple of House Martins overhead, although there was no sign of them visiting either our nests or the one across the road. I shall be watching the skies with increased interest over the next few days.


Female Starling tends to eggs3 June - While everything seems to be continuing without incident in box 2, the female seemed to be paying more attention than previously to the eggs.

Every time she returned to the nest she pushed the eggs around with her beak with enough energy for the sound of the shells knocking together to be heard via the microphone.

The male continued to take his turn with the incubating.


Male Starling watching for Swifts as night falls


This evening, as dusk approached he was evidently on the lookout for the Swifts, perching on the front corner of either our or the neighbouring house's roof. As darkness fell he retired to box 1, but continued to keep vigil from the entrance until it was almost too dark to see.




I'm not sure whether or not the Swifts managed to get into our neighbours' roof this evening, but at times there were four of them screaming past, as if they were trying to intimidate the Starling.

Yesterday evening, while they were making close approaches, and the Starling wasn't visible I saw a Swift fly up under the timberwork and hit it with its beak (I heard the knock). The action was repeated several times as I watched, and I wondered if it was a way of ascertaining whether or not the Starling was inside the loft space before they risked landing.


4 June - Hatching has started!

Shell from first egg to hatchYesterday's fussing over the eggs is explained this morning. Mum must have detected movement in them.

This morning I made a slow start, not getting downstairs until nearly 8.30am, and soon after I switched on the monitors I saw the first shell being removed from the box.



A Starling brings food for the first chick



It wasn't long before food was being brought in for the new chick,


The first chick is fed



giving us our first glimpse of it in action.

I'm afraid the shies are a bit overcast this morning so the images of the nest cup are a bit dim.


A second egg is opening



At 9.38am it was possible to see that a second chick had started to hatch.



Two eggs still intact at 6pm


The day has been cloudy and a few degrees cooler than yesterday, with a high of 18C and a bit of drizzle this afternoon. This means that we have had little chance to see the chicks during the day, and it doesn't surprise me that at 6pm the last two eggs are still intact.



I was surprised to see any eggs hatch today, and it looks as though we will have to wait until tomorrow for hatching to be completed.


5 June - A short report today, after I have just returned from spending the afternoon and early evening as a guest of our local NHS trust (Having had a bit of repair work done with the help of Laparoscopic surgery). You hear so many mixed reports about NHS care but I must say that the treatment and care I received was excellent (and they make a very nice cup of tea!).

Anyway, enough of me, so back to the Starlings -

Three chicks have hatchedI had to leave home shortly before noon. By then we could see that a third chick had hatched, but I only caught glimpses of them as I was rather distracted by preparations for the afternoon's events so I couldn't tell whether or not the fourth egg had also hatched.

By the time I returned home this evening it was too late to get clear images of the chicks, so I shall have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if hatching is finished


Its always surprising how much and how loudly the chicks chirp even with a parent snuggled done on top of them.


6 June - The House Martins are back!

I'm still waiting to confirm that all four chicks are hatched, but this morning the great news come from the front of the house.

The first House Martin visit of the year - 1


At 10.45am the cctv camera covering the House Martin nests brought us this very welcome sight - the first visit of the year to the nests.


The first House Martin visit to nest 1



After a brief look at nest 3, the Martin switched its attention to box 1.


The first House Martin enters nest 1



A check of the box from outside to confirm the nest was empty, and it went in.


The House Martin looks out of nest 1 as a Starling brings food for its chicks



Then it paused, looking out while around the corner, a Starling arrived with food for her chicks.


The House Martin leaves nest 1 after its first visit



The best part of a minute passed by before the Martin decided to leave.




Optimism is high, and I have reconnected the House Martin Webcam. Unfortunately, I need to get up into my loft to complete the reorganisation of camera links so that the webcam shows all three nests. I'll probably have to wait a few days before I do this, otherwise I will get into trouble with the hospital and with Sheila, so for the moment it will show just the external view, nest 1 (the nest most likely to be used, based on previous years), and the Starling boxes.


A House Martin visits box 3 before 8am7 June - The forecast is for a grey day outside, but the morning has already been brightened by a visit to nest 3 my a House Martin, which spent a few minutes in there preening before 8am.

Because of the very short camera/subject distances involved, I had to make the decision to adjust the focusing to concentrate on the position that the eggs/young chicks will occupy, so the adults will appear rather blurred when they stand up in a nest.

The camera in nest three has a slight power supply problem, causing slight banding on the image which shows up when light levels are low. Hopefully this will not


The female Starling and her three chicks


It looks as though the Starlings do have just the three chicks. While the position of the nest cup, tucked tight against the wall under the camera is a problem there is absolutely no sign of a fourth chick.

With both parents feeding them, the surviving chicks should have no problem reaching fledging successfully.


As I write this this evening's Springwatch programme in on the TV, and I have just watched live images of House Martins nest building up on the Scottish island of Isla, so our Martins really are late, although they don't need to spend time building, of course!


8 June - The Starling family definitely has three chicks which seems to be doing well with both parents bringing food on a regular basis.

During the day the garden seems to have been a centre of interest for a number of other Starling families, although they all disappear in the evening. This evening I spent a couple of hours sitting outside to watch the Swifts, and around 8.15pm a flock of 30-40 Starlings passed over us, heading south -west. There were at least a dozen Swifts about this evening, and the ones that swooped low over us seemed to be unhindered by the Starlings. I didn't see any attempt to enter my neighbours' roof, although they were still flying about when I finally retreated indoors.

House Martin nests - webcam imageDuring my time outside I saw just one House Martin, and that was high above us. I didn't see any visit the nests today.

 The webcam image now includes the three internal nest cameras in addition to the external view, and is now ready for when the Martins to decide to move in.



Webcam image obstructed by grass9 June - The only problem affecting the Starlings today concerned the nest decorations when this grass flower head became positioned so that it partially obstructed the webcam image for several hours.

Fortunately, it was moved this evening so the view is now back to normal.



On the Swift and Martin front, the Swifts continue to come and go over us, but although I'm not seeing them being bothered by the Starlings I didn't see them enter the roof space. At the moment they seen more interested in chasing each other around the skies, either as pairs or in the larger group.

The Martins continue to keep us waiting. At one time this afternoon I could see eight flying about to the south of us, and then this evening four spent some time overhead, although they didn't come down to low level before disappearing again. Still, that was better than yesterday's complete absence. I'm about to check through the day's recordings, but I don't think that there were any visits to the nests today.

A Starling looks into a House Martin nest at 6.50amI wasn't quite correct, although the House Martins didn't feature in some 14 hours of recordings, a Starling did, making a single approach to nest 1 at around 6.50am.

This is the only time that I('ve seen this happen, so hopefully it was a 'one off' event and not a sign that the Martins will have the same problems with the Starlings as the Swifts have suffered.

Click on the images to see larger versions -

2007 Nestbox Diary Index.....

Jan/Feb........... March (nest building)............. April (egg laying/incubation)...

May (the chicks fledge in box 1; eggs in box 2)... Next Chapter (June - part 2)