The 2010 Nestbox Diary
April (part 2)
11 April -
Great Tit - 1st visit 6.25am with two more before 7am.
7-8am 2 visits; 8-9am 5visits; 9-10am 4 visits; 11-noon 4 visits; no further visits today.
Sparrows - Male first left at 6.17am, female at 6.33am. As usual, the busiest time in the box was between 8-10am with 21 visits by the male. The female was present in just two of them, but these visits were by far the longest in duration. There were occasional visits through the rest of the day. At the end of the afternoon the male returned at 5pm for nearly half an hour. This evening the female returned to roost at 6.16pm, but her partner didn't appear until 6.29pm and it took nearly half an hour before he settled down for the night.
12 April - The brief taste of summer has been somewhat tempered over the last two days by increasing cloud and a cold north-easterly breeze which was especially noticeable today.
Perhaps the colder conditions are having an effect on the Great Tit. Today, there were only a small number of visits. The female made her first delivery of the day at 6.52am, but after that the remaining deliveries of nesting materials took place spread out across the day, at 7.21am, 7.31am, 8.12am, 10.46am, 12.04pm, 1pm, 3.45pm, and finally two in quick succession at 6.31 and 6.32pm.
While the deliveries finished then, there was one more visit just after the lights went out at 7.26pm. Less than a minute later the male joined her briefly.
As soon as he landed his partner was reaching towards his beak in expectation of courtship feeding. She tried twice before the male left.
Once on her own, she shuffled about in the nest cup for the next three minutes or so before she too headed back out.
The left-hand time on the top bar shows the elapsed time since 6am.
Away from the box it has been interesting to note a change in behaviour by the Great Tits, especially the female. I saw the male visits the feeder just once today, and the female not at all.
However, I did see her in the garden numerous times, and she was clearly hunting for insects or spiders. I watched her searching around cobwebs on the veranda, and amongst the pond-side, as seen in these pictures.
Still no news from the Sparrow box. Last year I first saw Swifts overhead on the 25th, so time could really be running out for them now.
13 April - A largely sunny day and with a less cold breeze than yesterday - much more pleasant out in the garden.
I haven't had time to go through the recordings today. The Sparrows continue their wait for the right moment,
but it looks as though that time may have come for the Great Tits.
This evening the female entered the box at 7.33pm. Her partner didn't turn up this time, but rather than leave she spent time pulling 'soft stuff' in around her as she settled into the nest cup. She is still there at 9pm.
Could we wake up to the first egg tomorrow morning?
14 April - The Great Tits have their first egg.
It turned out to be a very quiet start to the brood. As usual during the night the female adjusted her position every so often as she slept with her head tucked under a wing (left one in this case).
Soon after 4.50am her breathing became heavier, and she started to flick her tail up. Then she turned her head to face directly ahead and a few seconds later her tail dropped as she raised the rear end of her body at 4.56am as the first egg was laid.
She held this position for around half a minute before allowing her body to sink back down, and as the clock passed 4.57am she once again had head head tucked under her wing.
I listened carefully to the sound track of the recording, but she remained silent during the whole process. The speed and apparent ease with which this egg was laid indicates to me that this is not the first time that this female has produced eggs. I wonder if it is the same female that used the box last year?
Anyway, it was 5.36am before I got visual confirmation of the egg as the female got up to inspect it. There was one more look two minutes later before she completely covered it prior to leaving the nest at 5.49am.
I'm writing this at 11.35am and up to now neither of the pair has returned to the box.
There were just two visits during the day, at 9.19 and 9.59am when the female brought in tufts of white hair.
This evening she returned to the box just before 7.15pm, and after pulling more of the soft stuff into the nest cup and shuffling in it several times (without exposing the egg) she was settled with her head tucked under her wing before the light went out around 7.30pm..
Up in the Sparrows' box, some green leaves and a feather have been brought in this morning, along with some straw, but otherwise there is still no sign of their first egg! There were more deliveries of straw during the afternoon and the female seemed more defensive of 'her' corner', showing increased aggression when the male came too close. Is this a hopeful sign?
15 April - Great TIt egg #2 - A bright day with a cool breeze once more. No pictures today.
The Great Tits' second egg was laid at 4.04am, but there was no opportunity to see the eggs this morning before the female left the box at 5.45am. Today she made six deliveries of hair to the box before finally returning for the night at 7.22pm.
At first it looked as though there would be little to report from the Sparrows again, but there was quite a bit of activity in the early evening with the female moving soft stuff, which may be from a handful of small animal bedding that I put in amongst the branched of our Buddleia several days ago.
It shows up as fuzzy areas in this image.
Also, as a result of the pair bringing in quite a bit of straw today, the floor below the camera is now completely covered.
Perhaps the female is at last getting close to producing! Notice how the male is in his usual spot next to the entrance.
16 April - Great Tit egg #3
This morning's Great Tit egg was laid at 4.40am, and again I had no chance to see it before she left at 5.41am.
She brought in numerous tufts of hair during the day, most of which were distributed around the rim of the nest cup.
This evening she returned at just after 7pm and a couple on minutes later the male visited. However, as soon as he landed the female pecked his wing and he left immediately. She started to settle down again, only to have the male arrive again.
This time he had a wriggling caterpillar for his mate which was gratefully received, before she finally settled for the night.
Yesterday I wrote about the soft stuff being brought into the Sparrows' nest. Tonight it is more concentrated in one small area towards the front of the box.
I continue to optimistic despite the possibility of their time running out within a couple of weeks.
17 April - Great Tit egg #4 -
The Great Tits' fourth egg was laid at 4.23am . The female left the box at 5.50am, returning at 6.33am when she settled back into the nest cup. Five minutes later her partner arrived with a caterpillar which he passed to her from the entrance, although he was unable to reverse out and so had to enter the box to leave again immediately. The female remained sitting on the eggs until she left again at 6.52am.
She brought small amounts of hair in at 9.06 and 9.43am and then stayed away for the rest of the day. She returned at 7pm and started to settle. However, a few minutes later and it appeared that one tuft of hair had something wrong with it.
It was removed from the box at 7.06pm, giving me my first chance to confirm the presence of four eggs.
When she re-entered the box at 7.21pm she finally put her head under her right wing for the night.
And we are still waiting for the Sparrows....
18 April - Great Tit egg #5?
I think that the Great Tit's next egg was laid at a late 5.05am, although the process was much more subtle than normal. Unfortunately, before she left at 5.51am she had covered the eggs.
She made no visits at all during the day, but when she did return at 7.09pm she left again after three minutes. Again, no eggs were visible before she finally returned for the night at 7.21pm.
No progress in the Sparrows' box.
For the first time this year a pair of House Martins made an appearance overhead today, although they disappeared again after a while.
19 April - Great Tit egg #6
Egg laying was obvious this morning at 4.06am (I have checked through yesterday's recordings again and cannot see an alternative to the 5.05am timing) and she left at 5.44am, leaving all eggs covered again.
Unlike yesterday she brought soft stuff to the box seven times today (7.11, 7.38, 7.56, 9.07. 9.47, and 10.06am, 12.28pm). She returned for the night at 7.02pm.
The male has not visited the box over the last two days, although he was seen and heard frequently in the garden.
The House Sparrows are still more interested in house furnishing rather than egg laying.
I don't know if this is 'our' male, but his collecting of nest bedding is typical of what a number of Sparrows are doing today.
These are two frames recorded nearly fifteen minutes apart this afternoon. They show how the pair concentrated on bringing in bits of the soft bedding that I put in the Buddleia.
And just to be a bit different, the male obviously thought that his partner may be impressed to find a flower in the box!
There was no sign of the House Martins today so I suspect that those I saw yesterday were just passing through. I have read a number of reports about Swifts having been seen in the UK over the last couple of days, so it may not be long before we have our first sightings here.
In readiness for that event, tonight I have removed the plugs from the entrances of the converted Starling boxes. That reminds me - the fourth double Swift box that I made now has now been handed over to another neighbour who will put it up himself, hopefully very soon! So far the only occupants of the three other boxes is the pair of Starlings who I must assume will be incubating eggs by now.
- Click on the images to see larger versions -