Garden Bird Log – 2020

Sunday 13/09/20

Weather : Warm and sunny all week. No rain.

Notes : Watching the birds in the garden this week I have solved a little mystery related to my bug hotels.

Back in April I was very happy to watch the Red Mason bees laying their eggs into the bamboo tubes in the bug hotels. They lay several eggs in each tube, each one in an individual chamber which is sealed off with mud.

The eggs should turn into grubs which would normal hatch in the spring of next year.

However I had noticed that the first chambers in all of the tubes had been broken into. Unfortunately the eggs/grubs in the chambers at the ends of the tubes had been taken. In the photos below I’ve circled some of the tubes that have been broken into.

I was watching quite attentively this week and although I have no video evidence I can confirm that it has been the work of the great tits. I spent some time watching them hammering away at the bug hotels. Obviously it is a food source and they need to eat but I do hope that there are still some intact chambers further into the tubes that will hatch next spring.

I had no particular visitors of note this week but I did finally manage to get a couple of shots of a visiting Marsh tit. One even in flight!

Sunday 06/09/20

Weather : Generally warm and sunny. Only a very little rain.

Notes : No interest this week from any Robins in the new nest box. The only visitor thus far, very predictably, has been a great tit having a poke around.

I have however seen and heard the robins busy defending their territories. The robin who nested in a hedge across the road has been on the neighbours fence busily defending the same site. My nest box would fall within this territory.

Robins will normally have a couple of broods per year and will use different sites within their territory so hopefully this one will eventually find, and like, my nest box.

Bird of the week in the garden has been the long tailed tit. I happened to be having a quiet moment outside when a flock came bouncing through the nearby trees. They move as a flock and make quite a noise however they don’t tend to hang around long, just passing through.

Also this week as I was doing some cleaning of the hedgehog house I emptied out and disinfected the Great Tit Box. It’s all clean again and ready to go. I know that it is a long time until next spring but I’m excited already.

Sunday 30/08/20

Weather : Sunny with occasional rain showers. Not particularly warm.

Notes : Made a further update of the monthly bird survey for August. Lots of Great Tit activity but also I recorded an increased number of Dunnocks. Looks like there was a successful nest nearby.

I have moved the robin nest box to the front of the house, behind a fir hedge. I know that it is really quite difficult to get a pair of robins nesting but this is a good possible location.

The box is within the territory of a pair of Robins which although often present in my garden actually nested last year in the hedge of the house on the opposite side of the road. I think that robins enjoy being concealed within hedges but also like to have a clear entrance into the box, if they are using a box that is. Therefore this location, concealed on a wall behind an evergreen hedge would seem to offer good potential. It is also quite close to the house so I should be able to get a nest box camera in it without too much trouble.

For now I have placed a trail camera on the entrance and I’ll see over the next weeks if there is any initial interest.

Sunday 02/08/20

Weather : Very warm this week, temperatures up to 40oC.

Notes : I’ve been paying attention this week and I haven’t seen a swift circling above the house therefore we can conclude that they have left for the year. I wanted to put a date on the last sighting so I’ve gone for 25/07/20. I’ve also updated the swift log and records on the site with the info. I now have until March next year to rewire and reinstall the nest box. I’m going to install a new nest box camera and also to reposition the box so it is fully under the eaves of the house.

In the back garden this week I have made an update of the monthly bird survey, actually for July I did it on 01st August. The marsh tit is still present in the garden and I logged it in the garden during the survey hour.

Sunday 26/07/20

Weather : Warm sunny weather all week, rain overnight during 1 night.

Notes: The most significant event last week was the unfortunate death of a little tree creeper. We had just repainted oliver’s window and it was open for drying. It seems the little bird managed to get itself stuck and died. It was a shame and I was also surprised to see a tree creeper on the side of the house.

I’ve still been seeing swifts in the evening but I think that they should be preparing to leave quite soon for their return migration. It would be nice to record the last day a swift is spotted, although this may be tricky to accurately log, however I’ll give it a go.

Sunday 12/07/20

Weather : Warm sunny weather, no rain.

Notes: Little of note this week in the garden. The most vocal garden occupants are certainly the great tits who are still very numerous. Other highlight is again the marsh tits who are still present and are regular users of the seed feeders.

Sunday 05/07/20

Weather : Warm this week, not as hot as previously, with a few rain showers.

Notes: I did the monthly survey this week and although it is only a snapshot it does show much more activity than the previous month.

There seem to be a high number of great tits in the garden including many juveniles. They are very vocal and also there appears to be some battling for territory. I have also definitely seen juvenile chaffinches, which have much less defined markings than the adults, less sharp, but also very clear stripes on their heads.

The other highlight of the week was a passage of a group of tits including long tailed tits and again marsh tits. So I’ve now seen the marsh tits in the garden a few times over the last couple of weeks after a very long gap.  

Sunday 28/06/20

Weather : Very hot temperatures nearly all week, up to 35oC.

Notes: I spent a little time this week making an upgrade of the Great Tit nest box. I have added a light into it so that the images are now in colour.

The light has a sensor so it automatically turns off during the night and activates only during the day. I understand that it should not adversely affect the birds when they are in the nest although it seems a little odd.

Unfortunately at this time I can’t test the theory as the nest is not attracting any visitors at this time of year. We shall have to wait and see.

The other upgrade that I would like to make is to fix the audio so that I can record the nest sounds. I’ve got plenty of time but I’ll get onto that next.

An unremarkable week for birds in the garden with no out-of-the-ordinary visitors or behaviours. Still plenty of juvenile birds and in particular this week I noted some young starlings which have much duller markings than the adults, a lot less sparkle.

Sunday 21/06/20

Weather : Cool weather for most of the week with a few rain showers.

Notes : The great tits in the roof finally fledged on Tuesday 16th June. This is over 1 month later than the Nest Box brood which fledged on 13th May. I have no idea of the reasons for this large gap between two nests of the same species in the same location and whether this is typical.

I spent a lot of time this week recording the activity in and around the new Robin nest box, to see if it was attracting any interest.

The answer to this is not a lot of interest and certainly none from any Robins. The box did see some visits from the great tits and especially the juvenile birds.

In the video below the great tit seems to be chased into the box by a starling which then in turns get chased away.

I also got quite a nice picture of one of the birds, on a different occasion, having a look.

I will continue to keep an eye but it probably is too late in the year to attract any nesting interest, however it would be nice to see a Robin visit.

The swifts are still very vocal and active in the skies above the house. I also saw them this week coming very low and close to the house. I had not seen them so close before.

Sunday 14/06/20

Weather : Cool and overcast for most of the week with some heavy rain showers.

Notes : The great tit nest in the roof is still going and is occupied by the chicks, who make a lot of noise right by our bedroom. I imagine that these should fledge next week but it is interesting to note that this is so long after the nest box brood. So the nesting activity of the same bird species in this case is quite spread out.

Again lots of juvenile birds in the garden this week. I tried to set up a camera on the water dish, which they often visit. My returns were rather thin and I just got a view of a juvenile Robin and a juvenile great tit. At different times there were lots of young great tits in the garden, I spotted a group of 3 or 4 together with the adults, but I rather messed up the camera work I’m afraid.

The young Robin has yet to get the famous red breast or the adult colourings. It is however still very well camouflaged. The great tit is paler and fluffier than the adults. The adult markings, including the black strip will become more defined and prominent as it get older in the coming weeks and months.

I also changed one of the nest boxes and put it in a location that I think could be interesting for the Robins, shown below.

It’s quite late in the year to attract any interest for this summer but I think in general it is a good location. It is further along the same ivy hedge where I have the great tit box. It is also the same Hedge where I saw a pair of Robins start to make a nest, which I think was abandoned in the end, earlier this year.

Perhaps the only problem is that it is quite close to the fir tree, where the beech marten is often sighted, and an open fronted nest box is I imagine quite an easy target. However we shall see. I’ll also leave a camera on it next week to log any visits.

It’s not equiped with a nest box camera but if it gets some use I can certainly set it up.

The bird sighting of the week was definitely a marsh tit. I didn’t get a picture of the actual visitor so I’ll cheat and use a library picture.

I spotted it in the garden on the 10TH June, feeding on the fat balls. I remember seeing this bird quite often when we first moved in 4 years ago but I haven’t seen one for a couple of years.

Sunday 07/06/20

Weather : Very warm and sunny for the first half of the week followed by a dramatic change to cooler weather with some heavy rain showers.

Notes : Again this week I’ve spotted lots of juvenile birds in the garden. I’ve seen young blue tits, robins and great tits all either being feed by the parents or trying to feed themselves on one of the garden feeders.

I’m fairly sure that that the young great tits are those hatched from my nest box. At one point I saw an adult and juvenile come to visit the box, although they didn’t go in.

Interestingly the great tit nest under the roof at the front of the house is still going. The chicks can be heard on the nest and the parents are busy going in and out feeding. Assuming that these chicks fledge next week, although I have no way of knowing how many chicks are on the nest or how developed they are, it would be around 1 month after the chicks fledged from the nest box. Quite a large disparity for the same bird species in more or less exactly the same location.

Sunday 31/05/20

Weather : Consistent warm sunny weather all week. Slightly warming than normal for the season and no rain.

Notes : First log update for a few weeks as I was rather too busy with the daily log of the Great Tit nest and then creating and updating the Chatou Nature Blog website. Trying to get back to the recording now.

A quiet week for the birds in the garden. Now that we have largely passed the spring nesting season the suburban garden becomes a little emptier. Many of the birds seen during winter and spring are quite widely distributed now and a little less vocal.

In an effort to improve my record keeping I repeated the 1 hour garden bird survey which I last did in January this year. I will look to do this once a month to start building up some decent records. I would not want to jump to any conclusion after only 2 surveys but the record, shown below, does clearly show the drop of activity from January.

My trusted great tits are still around, and whilst doing the survey I saw a juvenile bird, hopefully one of the chicks fledged from my nest which is still doing well.

Other sighting of the week was the juvenile robins from the nest in the neighbours garden. I saw 2 juveniles from this nest leave the neighbours and fly over into the garden at the front of my house. So this has also been a successful nest. Robins will nest more than once a year so hopefully they may find a suitable second nest location in my garden or even in one of my nest boxes.

Sunday 26/04/20

Weather : Another warm sunny week with little if any rain. Unseasonably warm.

Notes : The weather continues to be exceptionally warm and mild for the time of year. This has been a big benefit to the nesting great tits. The first eggs hatched on 22/04 and in the end 6 of the 8 eggs opened. The remaining 2 eggs remained in the bottom of the nest. With the fine weather and two attentive adults the chicks have had a great start and up until the end of the week have been doing very well.

One of the most interesting moments of the week was when the nest box was visited by a beech marten.

No damage for the birds as it couldn’t get in the nest. But very interesting as I hadn’t had a marten on camera since last November I think. Amazingly it found the nest, I guess by smell, around 05:20 in the morning. Since then I’ve doubled up on the nature cameras on the nest but the marten has not return. Worth noting that as yet no other likely predators, especially jays and magpies have shown an interest in the nest.

I’m sure that there are other nesting birds close by, particularly Robins and dunnocks but I’ve not managed to spot any other nests. The Great tits are still nesting in the roof at the front of the house. At one point during the week I spent some time watching a wren in the nearby bushes and it would be fantastic if they are nesting nearby too. I think in general the compost heaps are helping to attract insect feeding birds.

Other top bird note of the week was the definite return of the swifts. They are quite obvious now and at times coming low over the house. I did have one go at activating the swift calls during the early evening, when they seem to be most active. Once the great tit nest finishes I will switch to the swift nest and I hope that I can entice a pair.

Sunday 19/04/20

Weather : Another very warm week with little rain. Really the typical weather from June or July.

Notes : The female great tit spent the week incubating the eggs with little alarm. I got a colour picture of the 8 eggs below.

The male did start to feed her in the nest but it was really only occasional. I assume that there was still mutual feeding outside of the nest. When I did witness feeding it was mainly caterpillars with the rest being made up of a mixture of other small insects. Next week will become very interesting as the eggs should hatch around mid week.

No other dramatic bird activity during the week. I should say that I may have seen my first swift. But it was a sole sighting of a single bird so I’m not sure. Many people are reporting the arrival of swallows but we don’t really see them here. However we always see swifts and obviously this year I have the nest box to work with. I don’t know if the warm weather is going to have an impact on migration or not. I’ve heard that although the weather here is great in the south of France and Spain it is not so good.

Sunday 12/04/20

Weather : Starting warm and getting remarkably hot by the end of the week. Some rain, light showers early in the week followed by some thundery rain during the warm days.

Notes : The great tit nest is progressing well. In total 8 eggs have been laid which is the final clutch size. The female started incubating around the 10th April so hatching should be around 22nd or 23rd April.

It was noticeable that once the incubation started the male was much more vocal around the garden and busy defending the territory. There is another pair of great tits nesting under the roof and the front of the house and there is often overlapping and some conflict. Also it was interesting to note that there is clearly communication between the male and the female. The male calls from nearby trees and bushes and the female replies from the nest. I have not seen either the male enter the nest to feed the female or any mutual feeding of the pair.

Other bird highlight of the week has been several blackcap sightings, always feeding on the ivy. Some of the smaller birds such as chaffinches are less frequent now and several have disappeared altogether, for example the coal tits.

Sunday 05/04/20

Weather : Again Clear weather with no rain. It is now more than 3 weeks without rain. However cold and sometimes very cold in the mornings at the beginning of the week but by the end of the week spring had arrived with a couple of very warm days.

Notes : First night roosting of the Great tits on 30/03, followed by the first egg laid on 03/04. Then an egg has been laid each night so as I write this on Sunday 5th April there are three eggs in the nest. I’ve seen the male and female together around the garden so they are obviously doing well.

The robins are still around, still mutual feeding, but I don’t know where they are nesting. I think they have abandoned the potential nest site in the ivy hedge close to the great tit nest box.

I don’t seem to hear much singing of either the great tit of robin in the back garden. I hear a lot of the dunnock, especially in the evenings. The great tit which nests in the roof at the front of the house is however extremely vocal, and contrary to the Dunnocks sings much more in the mornings.

Sunday 29/03/20

Weather : Clear weather, no rain but cold in the mornings.

Notes : The great tits continue to build the nest in the fence nest box, some white fluffy material coming in below.

I’m not sure if the Robins are still nesting close to the box. They are often in the garden and continue to mutual feed. Dunnocks are also often present and noticeably more visible later in the day. However again unfortunately no sign of activity in the wren nest box.

The bird highlight of the week was a female blackcap spotted feeding on the ivy berries on the back fence.

Also this was the first week without seeing any chaffinches in the garden.

Sunday 22/03/20

Weather : Again less rain and improving temperatures. Some spring temperatures actually arriving. On 18/03 the first really spring like day with warm sun in the afternoon.

Notes : Seen a lot of the Robins in the back garden with the male clearly feeding the female. The female makes chick like noises.

Then the first signs of nesting material in the fence nest box on 18/03 with the nest developing well over the remaining days. The nest is being built by Great tits, or rather the female great tit. They were much more active during the middle of the week when the weather was warmer and much less towards the end of the week in the colder weather. A lot of the nesting material being used was moss coming straight from the lawn.

I think the Robin nest site is still active therefore we’ll have to see if the Great Tits continue and if both nests, so close together, will be used.

Sunday 15/03/20

Weather : Less rain and improving temperatures. Afternoons quite spring-like.

Notes : Lots of great tit visits to the next box at least several per day. Once inside the bird spends it’s time hammering on the floors and walls. I’m not sure if this is digging out insect or ticks which might be present, a type of cleaning. However no great tit nesting yet in the box. Not sure if it is still because of the robins as they seem a little less visible as the week has progressed.

Indeed in general bird action in the garden is relatively quiet although the first crested tit for a long time was seen in the garden. No activity in the Wren nest box on the back fence.

Sunday 08/03/20

Weather : Weather still much the same. Mild temperatures. Some very wet and windy days. A little cold in the mornings. No cold snap or spring like weather yet.

Notes : By the end of the week I have had lots of sightings of birds gathering nesting materials. So definitely nesting has started. In general they seem to be more active on this in the mornings.

The great tits are starting to build their nest in the roof above our bedroom, as per normal. Several visits to the Fence nest box of a great tit but no signs of a nest and nothing in the Wren nest box.

However after seeing alot of the robins in the garden and specially a prominent pair, I have spotted that they are trying to make a nest in the Ivy only about 1m from the fence nest box. This would explain why I’ve seen them so much on the trail camera. Perhaps also why no Great tit has taken up the box as I’m not sure that they will nest so close to a Robin nest. Let’s see if the Robins continue in the same spot. If they abandon the spot it may free up the nest box.

Few Wrens sighted, perhaps the only hope for the other camera nest box is a dunnock. These are also very visible and vocal in the garden.  Saw a Goldcrest in the garden. May have been a firecrest, I didn’t get an amazing view but I’m 90% sure a Goldcrest.

Sunday 01/03/20

Weather : Very wet and a little colder. Temperatures between 5-10oC. Snow on a couple of early mornings but not settling on the ground. Some periods of very high winds.

Notes : Visit to the Fence nest box from a pair of blue tits. Definitely a robin pair in the garden moving around the front and back gardens. I hope that they will nest nearby.

Sunday 23/02/20

Weather : Very mild. Some rain.

Notes : Robins seem to be quite dominate in the garden. Even taking an interest in the Fence Nest Box. I got a fly-by image of the Robin below.

Robin Fly-by near the Great Tit Nest Box

Sunday 16/02/20

Weather : Mild Temperatures. Strong winds and rain.

Notes : 1st prolonged visit by the Great Tit to the Fence Nest Box. Spend 15 minutes inside during it’s one and only visit. Thoroughly checking it out. No action in the Wren nest Box but plenty of Wrenspotting in the garden.

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