NLRG was formed in 1957 to help in the study of birds in the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society area. There are currently 12 active ringers. Species currently being studied include: Pied Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Sand Martin, Twite, Goosander, Oystercatcher and Grey Wagtail. Migration has been studied for 28 years at Heysham. We welcome anyone who wants to observe, help or perhaps wish to become a ringer. Photo: A Heysham-ringed Twite on the Mull of Kintyre (thanks to Eddie Maguire)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Poor Season in Aughton Woods

The breeding season got off to a promising start but soon went downhill and ended up being, sadly, rather a disaster.

The current total of nestboxes is now 33. These consisted of 29 boxes existing (odd ones have been added over the past couple of years), together with 7 new boxes erected early this spring. These new boxes are part of a batch of 12 made this year and kindly financed by the North Lancs. Naturalists’ Group. Of these 12, there are 3remaining as spares for failing boxes, 2 were used to replace rotted boxes and 7 new boxes were erected.

There is an unofficial view that Pied Flycatchers like to use new boxes, and indeed, one of the new ones (which had only been erected a couple of weeks earlier) did attract a Pied Flycatcher this year - the first in these woods since 1 in 2008. A part clutch of eggs was laid but unfortunately was predated. Another clutch of eggs, possibly of a Redstart, was predated plus 5 clutches of Blue Tit eggs.

In each case there remained only many small pieces of eggshell in the nests – this suggests that the culprits may have been Wood Mice. These nests were spread throughout the area, rather than in one particular group.

The takeup of boxes was:

Blue Tit 13 3 successful, 5 predated eggs, 4 failed eggs(reason unknown).
Great Tit 3 2 predated eggs, 1 failed eggs(reason unknown).
Pied Flycatcher 1 1 predated eggs.
Redstart?? 1 1 predated eggs.
Other nests were begun in 5 boxes but did not progress.
10 boxes unused.

As can be seen, only three broods of young were successfully fledged from the 33 boxes.
The weather during the breeding period was generally rather cool, windy and wet at times. However, the Aughton Woods complex is not especially exposed and faces approximately south-east. The woods are fairly dense and boxes around 1.5metre above ground level would be somewhat protected from the elements.

A disappointing outcome from four monitoring trips of 3-4 hours each undertaken from the Crook O’ Lune!


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