Sunday, 29 April 2012

If You Go Down To The Woods Today…!

 It’s been a busy couple of weeks, full of mid-semester exams and assignments. As well as uni work I’ve been continuing to nest record on campus with good numbers of Coots now on eggs and 4 broods having already hatched. The Tufted ducks also look to be on eggs as all of the females have ‘disappeared’!


As well as nest recording up the road myself, Chris and Kane have begun recording down in Manchester and North Wales. We now have over 250 nest records on the go between us, hopefully with many more to come.
It’s been a great experience so far finding different nests and ringing the pulli. I’m finding it a real benefit to my training as I have very little experience of passerine pullus ringing.

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Woodpigeon Chicks

Most definitely the pullus ringing highlight so far has been these cute little Tawny Owl chicks that Kane found in a natural hole.


I’ve also been benefiting from nest finding with Kane as I am learning what to look for with certain species to find their nests and also which of these species I need to take extra care with when monitoring. My best finds so far would have to be Greenfinch and Robin.

Robin nest found hidden deep in this grassy tussock.

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Everytime I come away from Manchester I feel that I have learned something new and I enjoy being able to put my new found ‘nesting skills’ to the test up in Stirling.
Blackbird Nest

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Drama On The Loch

At the beginning of March I began searching for nests on the university's campus. The very first nest I found belonged to none other than a Coot. It wasn't long before I had my first Coot eggs and what fine eggs they are are too - stoney colour with fine speckles, simply beautiful.

Proud Mother

So far this season I have recorded 21 active Coot nests. Unfortunately though I don't hold out much hope for these feisty wee birds as last year every chick was eaten by either gulls, herons or pike! As if the poor Coots don't have enough to deal with one unfortunate pair had their nest stolen by a pair of Mute Swans.

These Coots had built their nest on top of one of last year's swan nests. The nest was almost complete and ready for eggs until disaster stuck and the Mute Swans decided they wanted their old nest back. The swans promptly took over the nest and laid their first egg within days of taking over. The pair are now currently sat on 4 eggs. All was not lost for the Coots though as they frantically built a new nest next door to the swans. Both the Coots and the swans are now sitting tight on eggs.


Surprisingly the Coot's wee cousin (Moorhen) don't seem to be doing to well in terms of nesting attempts with only 2 so far!

Meanwhile another pair of Mute Swans are doing well and are currently sat on 9 eggs which are expected to hatch around May 8th, so I'll be sure be around that day with my camera!

 I fear this year's offspring on the loch won't fair well as I have already had 3 full clutches (Coot & Mallard) 'disappear' and witnessed the very first brood of Mallards being pursued by a Grey Heron, Mute Swans, Herring Gulls and a particularly grumpy Coot! 11 ducklings hatched and by the following day there were 6, the day after zero! Life's hard down on Airthrey Loch.

The day of hatching and all 11 ducklings

....and one of their many stalkers!
At least some residents on the loch are having better luck as I discovered when I found this well hidden Long-tailed Tit nest situated the fork of a Willow 3 meters above the water - good luck to any terrestrial predators after that nest!

Clever Lottis!

So who knows what the next month will bring before I leave uni for the year and migrate to warmer climates. Hopefully there will be some success stories and I'll be sure to post updates of anymore 'Drama On The Loch'.

Will  he survive?