Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nesting Birds

I absolutely love Spring and one of the finest things about the garden just now is all the birdlife. Yesterday I took a break to sit in the garden and there were birds flying all over the place, many with twigs and moss in their beaks!

We made a big effort in January year to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, setting up some bird feeders with various treats in the old pear tree and getting ourselves nice and organised to spend a happy hour watching out for birds.  I wasn't sure how much the girls would get into it to be honest, an hour is a long time to just sit and watch, and there's always the question of will any turn up! However the RSPB have a great app you can use to count the birds which includes trivia questions and I also printed out a load of bird colouring pages which the girls loved.

I was really surprised by quite how many did appear!  We saw a huge number of blackbird, great tits, blue tits, robins, and what I now know as a Dunnock. Nothing unusual, but it was great to identify these fellows early on in the year as they have been regular visitors to our garden since! All these photos were taken at maximum zoom through a window so I apologise for the quality.

That same weekend we went to an event at the Castle where you could do various bird related activities run by the RSPB. One of the things we really enjoyed was making bird boxes. The pieces were all pre-cut and it just required us to assemble in the correct order. It was a neat and easy design and pretty simple to copy if you wanted to. There's a pattern here.

 Obviously nothing so plain would be allowed in this house so we spruced them up with a lick of paint and chose two sites just hoping that one at least would be suitable. The first was on a fence facing North, but is probably too close to the ground to be interesting, but the second was about 3m up in a tree facing North East. I had high hopes for this one. Who wouldn't want to live in such a beautiful house?

In a hopeful mood, come March, I decided to make use of some of those odds and ends of wool I had and make a nesting ball for any comers. We used a wicker ball and stuffed short lengths of garish wool and then hung it on the food tree hoping the birds would spot it when they drop in for a snack.

And then we waited....and watched....and didn't see any interest in either box.

Until early April, when a couple of blue tits started spending a lot of time hanging around.  And finally this:

I tried to leave them to it but I was so fascinated and hopeful!  I don't have a huge amount of time to just sit and watch, so I didn't actually see them looking around until Little My and I spotted Mrs blue tit going in with a whole beakful of moss. I say going in, it took her a good few minutes to poke all the moss in the entrance hole. I didn't have my camera on me when we saw her, and I didn't want to rush inside in case I missed it.

But today we've had some real fun. The hot weather has caused the exciting loss of Blackberry's dewlap. Check out this girl packing some chin last week: baby got front!

This morning the whole lot was gone, mostly in a big ol' chunk, so I picked it up thinking the blue tits might like it! This morning the blue tit was hard at work bringing feathers and moss to the nesting box

so when when I saw the blue tit was high in the tree singing away I went over and placed the fur high on the fence and as soon as I walked away she was down like a shot grabbing that fur.

We played this game for a little while, with me putting fur up when she was singing and then her coming and taking it to the nest. I knew she needed a little bit of colour in that nest so I gave her the option of some yarn too, but the fur was preferable

Still I knew she was tempted

And finally she succumbed to the temptation.

I can't wait to see that nest when it's empty again!

We've registered our nest with the BTO, and if you have any nesting birds you can do the same here.  I'll be posting updates as and when we have babies.


Avyb said...

Brilliant, did you have any issues from squirrels nabbing the food you put out to get the birds to frequent your garden in the first place?

AtomicYoghurt said...

No we didn't, but to be honest squirrels are not a big part of life here in Norfolk. They were everywhere when we lived in London, but I haven't seen a single squirrel in our garden since we've moved here. They are even rare in the parks, so much so that the children get really excited when they see one!
We also used to have terrible trouble with foxes getting the bird food in London. They had a real love of those fat ball. They managed to work out how to unhook the holder from the tree and then would crack it open and munch the balls. It was really annoying.