Monday, 14 June 2010

Nestbox Diary, they kept us guessing

Yep, on Saturday the six chicks that we have been following in our Nestbox with a camera certainly did. Would they stay or would they go?


Feeding trips by the parents were already in full swing early morning when I first looked. The live mealworms I put out were disappearing at speed. The birds were seen moving around the nestbox and interestingly the parents would tend to favour feeding the chicks that remained in the nest cup area.


Lots and lots of preening was going on. The ball shaped chick shows some were having a nap too.

It was fascinating to watch the almost agitated sense of excitement in the box. This mood in the box was quite different from other days. It made me think of my daughters (when they were little) as we set off on a holiday. The chicks looked like they were getting themselves ready for something.


Every now and again the chicks would almost queue up alongside one wall with the main leader of the family just below the entrance hole. Some looked like they were considering it. We would be drawn to watching. I began recording video.

All chicks were also having a little look out the entrance at some point. The leader of the group was doing this quite regularly. The weather was fine. The sun was out and there was a bit of a breeze. An excellent day for a maiden flight!

I’ve so much video footage from outside and inside that it’s going to take a little time to sort it out. It’s going to be fun reliving the day. I’ll come back with video in a few days and post some screen grabs for those who can't view them or don't have the time :-)


Occasionally, the breeze outside would be stronger and a noise could be heard in the nestbox. The chicks could then be seen quickly making their way over to the nest cup corner where they would stay very still.


After a little while, they would be back to wandering around the whole floor of the nestbox. There was still a clear leader of the group.


Whrrrrrrrrr whrrrrrrrrr whrrrrrrrrr was being heard very regularly now as all birds were flapping their wings in preparation for flying. Boarding passes please ;-)


Brrrrrrrrrr Brrrrrrrrr Brrrrrrrrrr and the breeze outside would pick up and they were all back in the corner again! Lol… at the two storey formation… the smallest are at the bottom too :-o


As the sun dipped in and out behind clouds from time to time the light levels changed within the nestbox. The chicks looked like them were responding to this. Mm… or had they just spotted the camera lens peeking through the false ceiling?


Amusing new behaviour also came when the chicks all started taking an interest in the nesting material. They would pick it up and move it around. In most cases they would also take it from each other too. This little bird didn’t keep this piece for long. I hope I captured good video of this :-D


Brrrrrrrrrr Brrrrrrrrr Brrrrrrrrrr and the breeze outside would pick up and they were all back in the corner again!


The leader was very keen to know what was going on in the world outside the nestbox and would jump up to the entrance and stay there for a while looking out. Some of the others would watch with interest and the smaller ones didn’t seem to want to know what it was up to.


Time past and it was evening now. All day long, outside, we had a video tape recording, stop, rewind and then set to record again to capture the moments of the chicks leaving our nestbox.

The light levels were dropping and the image inside our box was changing to black and white. After the initial ‘would they go moments’ in the morning it was most likely that it could be evening now. Good job as I was out during the middle part of the day. Thanks go here to OH for manning the video camera and keeping an eye on the PC view indoors when I couldn't xo


As the evening moved on, the chicks carried on wing flapping, preening, investigating the nesting material looking around and began tapping their beaks on the nestbox walls. Once one started… that they all tried it.

Parents still came in with food and it was getting a bit disorganised for space and tricky for them to remove the faecal sacs on occasions. Funny to watch, but the birds still went bottom up parent there or not and on a couple of occasions another chick removed it! it has been fascinating to watch their behaviour.


Time moved on and it was past 9.15pm. The chicks now looked like they were getting settled down for the night and weren’t going to go after all. Yep... they kept us guessing all day! However, the leader was still up and down at the nestbox. The rest weren’t really interested in what it was doing any more.



It was getting difficult to see inside the nestbox with this camera so I switched over to the IR one. Just in time too! The leader chick continued to go up and down to the entrance.

Then… one time, as I waited for it to bounce back on down towards the group… it didn’t! I almost wasn’t paying attention either. The rest of the chicks carried on settling down for the night with only one chick appearing to notice what had just happened.

So, there we had it. Our first chick had fledged at 09:28pm on Saturday night and after the guessing day we had had it was pretty much a low key event. I wonder if the parent birds found the fledged chick or it really was out alone all night.

Through my window, I could just see this first chick fly in a first flight fashion across towards my hedge then it turned left not knowing where to go and headed in to my neighbour’s very leafy Cherry tree that overlooks my hedge. It would have given it great night/day cover there so that was good at least.

Chicks fledging at slightly different times wasn’t a complete surprise. I had heard of that. However, I did expect it more to be more a case of the smaller, youngest one to be left by itself rather than one of the first hatched going it alone. The photo above of the sleepy five remaining chicks was one of the last images of our Blue Tit family.



Yep, you’ve guessed it! I switched on my PC in the morning… and the nestbox was empty. I have to say I did smile at this sight. Yes, I really would have loved to have seen the rest of our nestbox family fledge but I was thrilled that they had all survived to be able to.

Looking out my window there were no signs of the Blue tit chicks in my garden. However, I did see one parent take mealworms up to the Cherry tree! I hope that was to the first chick.

The same or another parent took mealworms away in a completely different direction so I’m guessing the family group split up. I wonder if they will every reunite at any point. If they follow their parents (who are still coming back to my garden for food) they just might.

On telling my OH, a little while after this, his response was along the lines of ‘Did they all make it okay?’ and ‘There were no crash landings were they?’ He was suggesting had I looked around on the ground. Oh dear… I never thought of that.

I gingerly walked around the paths of my garden looking into the borders which are pretty foliage full at the moment. Phew… I didn’t see any little blue tits lying on the ground :-D

Photos of our newly fledged Blue tit family out in my garden would have been the icing on the cake to this story but alas no sightings of them yet. However, there was also another Blue tit taking the mealworms from the feeder just before ours fledged. Now, if a family of newly fledged chicks arrive at the feeders I can’t be certain at all that this will be our one. That’s ok. I probably would have been too nervous watching them anyway.

Videos from Saturday? Well, I have quite a few. It has taken some time to select the photos to use to tell stories from the day and videos will be way harder. I’ve a challenge ahead of me there. I kept recording short bursts when the chicks headed up to the entrance, again and again. They will follow later in the week. Thanks to everyone who have followed this story with us.

Tomorrow night, I think I’ll go back to my roots and get back out into my garden with a camera and take photos of flowering plants for Bloom Day. The garden has been growing at a great rate in the time I’ve been watching our Blue tit family. I’m especially loving my front garden at the moment. I’ve got a couple of rather special plants waiting planting in my back garden too.

I hope you’ve been enjoying your garden at the moment too. Last evening, not having chicks to watch, I sat outside from 10:20-11:20pm for the RSPB Make your nature count survey. I wanted to see if hedgehogs were visiting at the time. I sat quietly at my Arbour knowing that bats would pass me by there… and they did. It was so peaceful at that time. A few moths passed by me too and a cat considered it! No hedgehogs though… Mmm… I’ll have work on that. I couldn't see any sign of a frog at our pond either but... lots of slimey slugs... very tasty bites for hedghogs! However, by next year my new pond (still at the hole in the ground stage) will be overflowing with wildife to watch:-D


The last photo above of the empty nest was taken in my garden on June 13th 2010. All other photos above were taken on June 12th 2010.

11 comments:

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Happy ending !!
Sooo sweet.

Gardeningbren said...

That was just delightful...wonderful. You worked so hard and spent so many hours to bring this to your blogger friends. Bravo! ...Exceptional and so appreciated.

From across the pond where we don't have Blue Tits that I know off...Thank YOU!

shirl said...

Hi there Patsi and Bren, thanks for stopping by :-)

Patsi, it was… so special to watch live too! All videos you see in my blogs have been watched real time. I don’t use image capture software. So thrilled to have a happy ending to share :-D

Bren, I am thrilled to hear you’ve enjoyed this. I was worried my lengthy postings were putting people off visiting and very few visitors have been sharing this wonderful story. You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words… THANK-YOU!!

Midmarsh John said...

Great to know they all made it to the fledgeling stage Shirl. Wouldn't you just know they would wait until you were not looking! It has been a fascinating experience watching them grow up. Many thanks for all your time and effort to share.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You had Blue Tits flowering on Bloom Day this time Shirley. I just love reading the story. I hope they begin to flit around your garden so you can watch them more. Who would have thought that they would come out at night. Maybe there are fewer predators at night so they are safer?? We will never know. This has been great watching and waiting with you. Thanks for all of your watching, editing and posting.

Gardeningbren said...

I must say as well, I was surprised they fledged at night and I wonder is that common in blue tits? Less predation then perhaps? What inner clock directs them?... mmmm

Shirl, loved your comments on my blog and so helpful re the photography. Still a challenge.. I too am trying to photograph my white wisteria.. (first blooms in the ten years I have had it!) but only about ten(((. Will stand by to see a photo of yours...wisteria envy )))

shirl said...

Thanks, John it really was. Lol… I have to say I slightly expected they’d go when I wasn’t watching especially when we had watched all day long on Saturday. I did consider getting up very early on the Sunday morning but didn’t have the energy :-)

Just thrilled they survived to be honest. There was a point I had difficulty watching them (around the time we lost chicks in previous years). I guess I didn’t see this story as over until it was. I have heard of chicks dying at the very end too. It is strange now not to be looking in the nestbox to see them. They still haven’t appeared in the garden at the feeders.

You are most welcome! As I’ve said, again and again (I do really mean it) it has be a huge privilege to see this for ourselves and to share it has been brilliant. It would have been a sin not to. I am particularly pleased to have shared this with you seeing as you have nestcams yourself. It would have been really good if we had had nests at the same time to compare our different areas of the UK. Maybe nest year :-)

shirl said...

Nearly, Lisa being able to share this with you all the way over in Indiana (especially when you won’t see Blue tits there) has been just brilliant!!

No sightings of young Blue tits in my garden since and now of course I’ll never know them now if they do come. That’s ok. They survived to fledge and my one hope is that they are all thriving out there in my neighbour’s gardens and cats and other predators leave them alone.

Yes, I did know there was a good chance that it would be early morning or late at night that they would go and focused my watching at these times. The garden is certainly quiet in the evenings so maybe that’s what attracts them to go out then.

Last year, we had a nest (without a camera) above our back door and until we heard chirping from below it I had no idea there was a nest there. I did spot a bird leave one evening at 8:45pm. It went to one of the trees in my garden where I noticed it to be a young chick. I went outside later to find everything quiet below the nestbox so I guessed they had all gone.

As I could see in this year’s nest I knew the other five didn’t fledge on Saturday night. It would have been very early the next morning that they would have gone. As I said to John above, I just didn’t have the energy that morning to get up again :-D

You are most welcome, I’m delighted to have people/blogging friends to share this experience with :-D

shirl said...

Yes Bren, interesting the way nature works isn’t it. Sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my posting. Just to say, only one bird fledged at night. The others went early the next morning.

One thing I did notice (which you’ll see in my videos hopefully by the weekend) is that the chicks were a little spooked by noise. Wind, aeroplanes, lawnmowers all made them go running into the nest cup. The garden at around 9pm would have been a nice and relatively peaceful time for them to leave the safety of the nest and clearly that’s what the first one thought :-D

You are most welcome for the comments. Time for browsing and comments to other bloggers is something, sadly, I have been finding difficulty with lately. During my blogging break I will likely buzz around and say hello to people from time to time :-D

Oops… don’t think I gave a good master class via the wisteria. Having no blue sky and with the contrast of the dark plants in front my photos didn’t really show clear white flowers.

Oh… first blooms on your wisteria, I can remember them well! Congrats there :-D Mine took about 9 years and it has now been flowering for 3-4 years. Would need to look back my blog for accurate stat. Ohhhh… my… just seen your wisteria on your pergola… snap :-D

Juliet said...

So pleased they made it :)

Our young blackbirds aren't visiting any more - I think a lot of birds do move away from where their parents nested as they grow up. But we have new baby blackbirds now!

shirl said...

Hi there Juliet, thanks… me too! Baby Blackbirds are great to see aren’t they? There can be a constant stream of them coming throughout the summer too. Enjoy yours :-D