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Elizabeth and Malcolm's Bluetit Pages
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Blue tits in my garden

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Joined: 04 Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Kent

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:26 am    Post subject: Blue tits in my garden Reply with quote

Hi, new member here with my own tale to tell and a few unanswered questions. Please indulge my ramblings.
I installed blue tit box in my quite small garden last year and had great fun watching the nesting process and eventual appearance of at least four fledglings. I counted four because I did not see them emerge but one morning went into the garden and saw four little ones all staying together high up in my tree. Delightful.
This year I was able to pay even closer attention and, along with the satisfaction of feeling as though I was playing a very small part in nature, saw much more drama than I'd bargained for. About mid-April I came down to see that the nest box, hanging on one nail to my tree, had been turned at right angles by something overnight. I carefully repositioned it hoping that the nest had not been too disturbed and fortunately normal service seemed to be resumed pretty quickly. Whenever I was in the garden doing work or planting I kept a respectful distance and saw the parents coming and going every few seconds. Phew, what a work rate!
Then over the weekend, the most fun of all, our fledglings began to emerge at the opening and fly the nest. I spent much of the day in the garden on Sunday and suddenly saw the first one on the ground. I sat and watched him preening his new wings and buzzing around under cover of bushes.
Eventually after about 20 minutes he started to fly in little spurts. I was seated on a sun lounger across the garden and he flew straight at me, landing on the lower leg of my jeans and staying for about 30 secs before heading back to the bushes.
He eventually flew on top of my fence panels and up into the apple tree of my neighbour which slightly overhangs my property.
A second fledgling took ages to emerge, very nervy I thought despite encouragement from the mother who brought food to the opening. Eventually this one popped out some two hours later and flew straight up to the apple tree, no hesitancy in flight whatsoever.
The mother was soon working on a third exit but by now it was getting darker so I went indoors.
In the morning I came down to see, to my horror, that the box had been moved again to right angles. My DIY to secure it had failed.
Can anyone suggest what might have been doing this? Quite a strong predator I'd have thought. Squirrel? I have seen a small grey pop over to my feeders recently from a neighbour on the opposite side. There is a cat who is an occasional visitor but this must have occurred very early in the day.
The other thought that crossed my mind is crows and magpies. We seem to have loads of those who live in some very high trees about 100 yards away dive down in our close and raid the rubbish bags when they're out for the bin man. The magpies are very lairy and often raid the feeders, with all but the wood pigeons scattering. They are like some dark force hovering above the garden.
The only birds I've actually caught poking around the box are starlings. My daughter and I, on separate occasions, have seen one land on the roof and try to stick his beak in the hole, but they would not have the strength to move my nest box as it's quite heavy.
By the way, my RSPB books say starlings are in decline but we seem to have loads - and plenty of young ones at the moment still as big as adults but being fed by mums. They arrive mob handed at my feeders (as many as 20 at a time!!!). Hell of a racket on other side of garden to my blue tit nest box.
Anyway, I readjusted the box again (I'll gaffer tape it to the tree next year!!!) but had a distinct sense that all fledglings had gone. But I could hear that distinctive tweeting. Then as I sat there thinking what became of the fledglings, I saw three of them hopping around the ground, just like the first one.
All three were at different stages of development, one huddling on the floor, another flying gingerly up the fence, another one breaking into bold flight on top of the fence. This was a great relief.
I went indoors and banged the window a couple of times when a magpie dropped in and there was an aggressive blackbird poking around the garden. But I was pretty happy that I could count this as a success story.
I then had to go out and when I came back, horror of horrors, I found a small tuft of tiny blue wings on the grass. I can only assume that the weakest was taken. Put a big downer on my day, I can tell you. Sad
That was yesterday. This morning, no activity near the box so I think that's clear now. I'll leave it a while then clean it out, as I did last year, and re-site it more securely around January.
On a happier note. I've seen what I believe to be one of the fledglings buzzing around the garden. Small, still greyish but strong in flight and in and out of my tallest trees.
I have little experience of all this and have come to birdwatching quite late in life (I am 55).
This year in my garden I've seen (to the best of my limited spotting knowledge and an RSPB book) blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, robins, coal tits, greenfinch, goldfinch, starlings, blackbirds, pigeons, doves, magpies (has there been a population explosion of these???), crow, sparrows, dunnocks. In previous years I also saw a jay who kept burying things in my lawn.
It is proving a joy, though watching the jackdaws under attack last night on BBC Springwatch was quite harrowing. Guess that's nature. Thanks for reading and any comments or encouragement much appreciated. Very Happy
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Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 1310

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:50 am    Post subject: What a dilemma! Reply with quote

Hi Wordsmith
Welcome to the forum.I'm sure Elizabeth will welcome you as well but I was interested to read your tale and thought I would reply.

I too think it was probably a squirrel at your nest box. They are quite able to move a box and gnaw through plastic guttering to get into the loft, as we know all to well! They are agile too so would put a bet on that is what it was. They will also take chicks if they can get in.
Glad that your chicks have survived so far, it is always nail biting when they leave as you cannot control things after the reasonable safety of the box.As always some will be predated but that is nature and her food chain.
This is my first year with a camera and it has been a joy and a pleasure. As I write this I can hear Billy Whizz (largest chick) fluttering his wings as I am recording today's events. Hilda and Howard have raised healthy chicks fed entirely it seems on caterpillars, totally ignoring my mealworms!
I think all 7 will go at the weekend if weather keeps up. I have put up another box a distance away from Box 1 and hope next year to attract a GT. Fingers crossed can't wait!
Best of luck for next season

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Joined: 04 Jun 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Kent

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Kathy,

Yes, I think a squirrel is probably most likely but as you say, that's nature.
Best of luck with your fledglings.
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