Saturday, 28 February 2015

WILL SPRING BRING DOMESTIC BLISS FOR THE HOUSE SPARROWS?

We’ve had a few quiet nights in the occupied nest box, with just the female house sparrow roosting.


Of course it was all very different at the start of the week when the male house sparrow was being quiet vicious to the female.


As you can see from the images, this was more like cage fighting than wrestling, although the female did fight back once or twice. They even managed to start fighting again while still asleep, after nodding off.

 
I’m still unsure as to whether the female and male are partners, of if this is an unattached male bird trying to steal the nest box or the female.

As for the nest, it’s a very slow process so I’m presuming that warm spring days are still a few weeks away.
 

There are now plenty of bulbs coming through, adding a touch of colour to certain areas of the garden. As you can see below the difference a couple of weeks makes is quite something.



The weather has helped recently, with the odd mild early spring day. But cooler, or even colder, weather appears to be still capable of unleashing itself on us.

And this time of year the odd Atlantic storm can also cause major problems for wildlife and humans. Even sedentary garden birds can be affected, so not just those who make journeys to breed.

In general the same birds are visiting the garden, with very few unusual visitors. I think this means there’s enough food away from my handouts to keep them going.

Friday, 20 February 2015

DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXIST IN HOUSE SPARROWS?

The spring bulbs are finally starting to show en masse , with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils about to burst in to bloom when the weather warms up just a couple more degrees.

Of course this week has seen winter hold back spring a little, with this weekend potentially providing some snow again; though mainly for mountains.

Perhaps next week I’ll have images of the bulbs bursting through in colour.

One thing that has been proving very interesting is the behaviour of the make house sparrow. He has been regularly seen in the nest box during the day and when he is in there with the female, has been carrying out acts of ‘domestic violence’.

The female has been fighting back a little bit, but has taken some hefty pecks to the head and body. I’m wondering if this is normal behaviour in courting house sparrows, or is the make trying to usurp the female from the nest box, but doesn’t have a female to mate with yet?
 
 
 
 

 
The nest itself has been coming along slowly, as the images below show. They are of a ten day period up to the 17th February.

I’m definitely seeing more birds in pairs now and there’s plenty of bird song about during the day.

It won’t be long before spring is fully underway, but I suspect that the wildlife will anticipate it before the weather presenters. The house sparrows will probably be a good indicator, because when nest building quickens up, it’ll be a sure sign that temperatures and sunshine hours will increase very soon.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

WINTER HOLDING ON AS WEATHER STAGNATES

No major news from the garden wildlife this week as the winter weather takes a rather mundane turn.

Fog has gripped the garden for a couple of nights and the day time temperatures have struggled to rise above a few degrees Celsius.

This has led to a flurry of visitors and the large flock of sparrows making an increased number of appearances.

A pair of blue tits has been spotted getting cosy with each other, with other notable pairings of robin, great tit and dunnock also showing signs of togetherness ahead of the spring breeding season.

The female house sparrow is still roosting in the original tit nest box and has added a little bit of material (mainly dried grass) to the bottom of the nest box.

Nest building is definitely on hold, but at least the extra few bits give a little more insulation against the cold.

Unfortunately with the huge increase in cats in the area, mainly thanks to two small houses having eight cats between them, the birds are regularly heard giving out warning calls.

I’ve had to chase a cat out of our garden at least once a day recently, although I’m hoping my scare tactics will soon deter them from coming in our garden, stalking the feeders and defecating in the borders.

If I wanted that to happen I’d get a cat! Rant over and back to watching the wildlife flourish when spring arrives and seeing new arrivals on the nest box cameras.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

WINTER COLD POSTPONES PREPARATIONS FOR SPRING

This year we can’t say we haven’t had some proper winter weather. The snow, ice and bitterly cold northerly winds have caused wildlife in the garden to postpone plans for spring.

The nest building of the house sparrows has stopped (see first three images below), although overnight roosting has continued with the female bird (see final image below).

 
 
 
 
A pair of tree sparrows are still showing great interest in the sparrow nest box ‘complex’, but not in the section with a camera in.

In the last couple of days I have seen the pair of robins, whose territory includes the garden, flirting with each other and driving off intruders.

A pair of great tits have also been showing signs of flirtation but, like the robins, it doesn’t last long as the search for food to keep them alive during the harsh overnight frosts takes their attention.

Recently a grey squirrel has been frequenting the garden. This is unusual because although they seem to live about ½ a mile away, visits to the garden have been very rare.

The prolonged cold weather must be driving them further in search of food.

With the ground rock hard, the single winter rose and snowdrop are unlikely to be joined by any of the numerous bulbs that had pierced the surface of the soil a couple of weeks ago.

The branches of the fruit tree in the garden are covered in the first shoots of spring buds, but I don’t expect there to be any further movement in the next week or so.

That’s because the forecast appears to show this cold weather staying for a while, so postponing the recent eagerness of the wildlife in and around the garden to prepare for spring.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

THE NESTBOX CAMERA IS BACK - WITH EXCITING NEWS

The cold weather looks like abating after this weekend, with milder conditions set to take hold.

It’s good news for the wildlife that has survived the cold snap, but I’m sure there’ll be a few more before winter it out.

Before I get on to the big news from my garden, the signs of spring are certainly showing with numerous bulbs showing.

I’ll use images to showcase the change in one area of the garden’s flowerbed, to see which bulbs come up first and how quickly they do so.

OK, the nestbox camera that was cut off just as the first nest was being built last year, IS BACK.

I fitted a new cable this week and already there has been some action. When I inspected the nestbox last week it had bird droppings in it, so I knew some roosting had been occurring.

When the camera went live a female house sparrow roosted in for the night and today, just two days after it went live again, it started nest building with a male house sparrow.

 
 
 
I also noticed that a pair of tree sparrows is now paying close attention to one of the three boxes in the sparrow nestbox, but nothing has gone into the one with the camera in it.

 
There appears to have been something occurring inside the nestbox during the winter, but I’m not confident that a nest will appear.

Perhaps we’ll have a nearly completed nest by next week, which will be much earlier than last year.

Finally, today I took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Nothing too unusual although the female great spotted woodpecker did put in an appearance.
 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

WINTER IS IN FULL SWING, BUT SIGNS OF SPRING ARE ALL AROUND

Before I go on to the changes in the garden from August to October, there’s been some turbulent weather recently, with storms bringing mild and very cold weather within days of each other.

I’ve certainly noticed changes in the garden with larger flocks of the smaller birds spending more time in the garden, while I have now chartered three robin territories on either side of the house, including the favourite singing posts.

The colder weather has certainly brought about a change in the natural food supplies for small birds and it’s even meant the female great spotted woodpecker is now a daily, if skittish, visitor.

I’m trying to get the broken camera working again as I’ve spotted that birds are now using it to roost in, not sure which ones, but the camera should be up and running again next week so watch this space.

Finally, before the pictures, I’ve noticed a number of bulbs popping up around the garden. Can’t say which ones yet, but tulips, crocuses, daffodils and snowdrops have all been planted, and by the size of the protrusions from the ground, I’d say a mixture of all four are coming through.

Anyway here are the pictures of how the garden transformed in October and November, but to give context for the first October image, I’ve included the last one I was able to take before I was taken ‘elsewhere’ for nearly two months. The last one is from the end of August. You can see just how well the triple sparrow nextbox is camouflaged.


October


 


November





Friday, 9 January 2015

HOW SUMMER CHANGED THE GARDEN

So here’s how the garden looked in the summer months of July and August.

The tree and house sparrows continued to fledge broods and the full effect of the summer sun in July and the rain in August can clearly be seen.

Next week I’ll look at October and November, with a seven week gap between the last one of August and first one in October – due to a stay in hospital.

In other news the female great spotted woodpecker has been seen feeding on the fat snack in the garden on most days, while a few female chaffinches have been seen around the garden.

On the lane there’s already been construction started on a number of nests, so I’ll mark where they are and monitor progress as the leaves return and bring camouflage.

Finally a number of bulbs are starting to sprout, so I’ll get some pics and bring news on here later this month.

July



 
 

 


August