Here is a summary of what is happening in the nestboxes in Hindburndale at the moment, other than one or two late possibilities with Pied Flycatcher or Redstart and definite identification of quite a number of the Blue/Great Tit nests! We are very wary of being presumptuous over clutch size and perceived egg size as a means of separating all Blue and Great Tit, having been caught out previously. Indeed, there is a slight possibility that one of the uncertain nests is a Coal Tit
There has been a significant influx of Pied Flycatcher during the last eight days and this has contrasted with a very protracted stop/start nesting progress by tit species and one of the Nuthatch nests during April. Indeed, tits which were still dithering with circles of moss at the beginning of May found, in three cases, the box commandeered by Pied Flycatcher and a fourth looks like going the same way
In at least one case, a box with enlarged hole for Redstart was definitely occupied by this species, one was almost certainly this species (as opposed to Pied Fly) and a third was 'more likely to be Redstart than PF'. One of these large-holed boxes was occupied by a Great Tit and another is in the early stages of presumed tit occupation, but the rest have remained empty
The most significant change has been the increase in Blue Tits in especially the upper valley - 1 havn't got the comparative data to hand - will slot it in later - but this has been in the region of 250-300% increase since 2010. This 'invasion' prompted worries about boxes for the returning Pied Flys and 10 extra boxes were erected in mid-April and now house 5 Pied Fly and one Redstart nests!
Pied Flycatcher - 21
Redstart - 2
Probable Redstart - 1
Pied Fly/Redstart - 2
empty boxes with male PF in attendance - 2
Nuthatch - 2
Great Tit - 5
Blue Tit - 9
Blue/Great Tit - 24 (but see above re-slight possibility of one being Coal Tit)
early stages of tit nest - 3
Empty - 15
Here are two examples showing the stop:start nature of April/early May after some birds had built nests in the warm weather of late March.
Presumed Blue Tit: 30/3 (moss circle), 19/4 complete nest, 26/4 (2 eggs), 30/4 (3 eggs), 5/5 (4 eggs), 7/5 (6 eggs) [not visited subsequently]
Nuthatch: 30/3 (complete nest), 19/4 (complete nest - deserted??), 26/4 (4 eggs!), 30/4 (6 eggs), 5/5 (bird sitting) [Not visited subsequently]
A very interesting season so far. Thanks to the landowners for allowing this study to take place in e.g. private areas of woodland. .
Jean Roberts, Pete Marsh, Tess & Paul Adams, Louise North