The 2010 Nestbox Diary
April (part 3)
20 April - Great Tit egg #7
(The left hand time shown on the image gives the elapsed time since the recorded began at 3.30am)
She left the box at 5.43am.
While that first image was just marginal, a visit by the female in the late afternoon left the eggs completely uncovered for the first time.
This evening the female returned for the night at 6.58pm, and in the next quarter of an hour the male visited twice, with a caterpillar for his partner each time.
If you were watching the Sparrow webcam this morning you will have seen a great deal of activity with the pair spending a lot of time together in the box. You may even have seen that the pair mating this morning at around 9.45am.
They returned from a period away from the box and the male mounted his partner as soon as they entered the box. As soon as that initial mating was over he pecked her several times on her back. She then moved to the corner where they mated once more, after which the male headed for the other end of the box.
After a pause he dashed back to his partner and mated a third time. Once again he moved away before returning to mate one last time.
After that the pair resumed their more usual behaviour of taking turns to sit and adjust the nest cup, often ending up side by side for a few moments, rather than one moving away immediately the other moved it.
Tonight the pair are back in their usual positions, with the male guarding the entrance.
How soon after mating will their first egg be laid?
I have added a couple of cctv images to yesterday's diary.
21 April - Great Tit egg #8
Egg #8 was laid at 4.58am and the female left the box at 5.44am.
During the rest of the morning she returned just once, at 11.32am and stayed for about a minute.
However, at 2.20pm she entered the box and settled on the eggs, staying for an hour. When she left at 3.20pm she left the eggs uncovered, giving me my first chance of the day to confirm the presence of the eight eggs.
She was back in the box for another long stay at 4.12pm, this time staying for a bit longer, until 5.17pm. During this period the male visited twice, providing her with a caterpillar each time.
The female finally returned for the night at 6.51pm.
The change in behaviour this afternoon suggests that egg laying is almost over, and it is likely that she will produce just one more tomorrow.
In the Sparrows' box the wait continues. At least the corner that serves as the nest cup has had another large supply of soft stuff brought in during the late afternoon, so I don't think it will be much longer before their first egg is laid.
22 April - Great Tit egg #9 laid, and the first Swift of the year seen this morning, although it was high over us, heading east.
What may be the final egg for the Great Tits was laid at 5.13am. Afterwards, the female left at 6.09am, not bothering to cover the eggs.
Returning 17 minutes later, the male brought food to her five times before she left once more at 7.24am.
She reappeared at 8.07am but stayed only long enough to deposit the tuft of hair that she had brought in.
At 8.19am the male entered the box with another caterpillar. The female entered a few seconds later with more soft stuff. She put that down, received the caterpillar and they both left. She made another brief visit with nesting material at 10.29am.
I was beginning to wonder whether or not incubation was going to begin today when she arrived in the box at 11.50am with nothing in her beak. This time she settled on the eggs and stayed put until 1.36pm. She left for a ten minute break before she sat from 1.46-2.39pm. This was followed a 16 minute break; 2.55-4.50pm sitting; a 15 minute break; 5-6pm sitting; and then a final long break until 6.45pm when she returned for the night.
I wonder if egg laying really has finished.
In the Sparrow box the pair continued to get closer to egg laying without quite getting there. At around 8am the pair mated again, five times over a couple of minutes. After that it was business as usual. All the soft stuff piled up yesterday afternoon ended up worked into the tangle of straw, and more was brought in this afternoon.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I spotted a single Swift shortly before 9am. It was quite high, and flying directly east over us, obviously in transit to a nest site elsewhere. At least it is a signal that 'our' Swifts should be here very soon now.
That sighting has prompted me to check out the cd player/amplifier set-up that will play Swift calls via the loudspeaker mounted next to the Swift boxes. It is now ready to be switched on via a timer switch once the Swifts have returned to the neighbourhood.
23 April - Incubation has started, and we are now into the countdown to the hatching of the Great Tits' eggs in around 13 days time (6 May). As I needed to save numerous video clips onto DVDs before deleting them from the hard drive recorders, I haven't been recording continuously today so I cannot give details about the time spent in or out of the box today. That task is now almost complete, giving me more recording space for what are likely to be a couple of very busy months.
I hope to add the large images tomorrow
We continue to wait for the Sparrows. If they looked skywards this morning they would have seen a sight that might have brought a tiny bit of panic (if they thought in a human way!).
It's not as though the Sparrows haven't been busy. They have spent a great deal of the day bringing all sorts of nesting materials from trigs to very fine grass, as well as pieces of fern fronds and these - I'm not sure if they are leaves or petals?
It's one of those times when a colour camera would be useful!
Tonight the webcam shows a large object that hides the male. This is actually an Ivy leaf, complete with its long stalk, brought in by the female just after 7pm.
Looking at tonight's webcam image it's interesting to see how the far end of the box as been cleared of nest materials, and it looks as though the area just inside the entrance has been completely cleared of all debris. You get a good idea of how built up the nest now is, with quite a step up onto it from the wooden floor.
Not long before noon I spotted first a pair of House Martins that were flying about fairly high to the west of us. Then I caught sight of a trio of Swifts directly above us, although much higher than the Martins.
All five birds soon disappeared in what were bright and very hazy skies, and I haven't seen them again today. I have read a report that there are very large numbers of Swifts heading north over Spain at the moment, and all being well more should be appearing here during the weekend.
Not great pictures, but at least they are a record of the visits.
24 April - A warm day with increasing high cloud, but no Swifts or Martins.
While incubation goes on with no problems for the Great Tits, the Sparrows continue with their nest building/decorating.
This morning it was twigs with small leaves and perhaps a couple of flowers - I think these may have been from our Winter Jasmine.
By this evening they has blended into the rest of the nest.
- Click on the images to see larger versions -