The first visit to our nestboxes in Pott Yeats Wood this season augered well - 7 boxes with Pied Flycatcher nests out of the total of 43 boxes, a good proportion for this relatively low altitude valley woodland.
However, today's visit told a very different story. All 7 nests contained many fragments of eggshell, the result of predation probably by a mammal species (possibly Woodmouse).
It was a depressing day, lifting one lid after another to find yet more predation. In all, 10 clutches had been destroyed (7 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Blue Tit) out of a total of 18 nests (7 Blue Tit, 4 Great Tit, 7 Pied Flycatcher). The predated nests were spread evenly throughout the wood. A further visit in a couple of weeks will be made to check for second attempts, although there will be little chance of this unless the weather warms up somewhat - it seems so sad that that the birds have made the long journey from south of the Sahara only to have their eggs eaten and then to return with no young produced.
Perhaps the anti-midge net ordered last weekend will not see any use this year after all!