First up the WeBS count. As is normal for this time of year, numbers of waterbirds were pretty low with the following recorded: Mallard (12, no ducklings yet), Moorhen (3 and 1 nest), Coot (6 and 1 nest), Canada Goose (2), Tufted Duck (9), Mandarin Duck (3 males), Great-crested Grebe (3; 2 on the middle reservoir with 1 on the nest and another breeding plumaged bird on the top reservoir) and Grey Wagtail (1). Unfortunately no Little Grebes again. Where are they this year? Please let me know if you see or hear any. In addition to these "usual" birds I was lucky enough to record a couple of Curlews this morning. They were flying over the fields by the top reservoir calling. I usually record them at least once a year and presume that they're breeding in the nearby fields.
Other birds recorded in the woods today included: Tawny Owl (2), Pied Flycatcher (male bird singing again), Stock Dove ( 2 feeding by the main entrance), Swift (20+ over the middle reservoir again), Swallow (c.30 over the top reservoir), House Martin ( a couple with the Swallows and Swifts), Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Siskins and Lesser Redpoll (heard around the middle reservoir).
Last but not least the nest boxes. As stated above I managed to record 17 active nests today. Although this isn't a great total, I am pleased as I was quite worried a few weeks ago, when they weren't any at all! Most of the tit clutches numbered around the 5 or 6 eggs and weren't being actively incubated, which means they are still being laid. There were, however, a few birds sitting tight, such as this Blue Tit.
Blue Tit incubating.
As well as the tit boxes I managed to find a Song Thrush's nest this morning. It was on the floor approx. 2m away from the main path through the woods and the sitting bird flew up as I walked past it. Gorgeous eggs. Hopefully it'll survive and I'll be able to go back to ring the chicks later.
Song Thrush nest
It can be told from the very similar Blackbird's nest by the fact that the cup is lined with mud. A Blackbird's nest is left unlined. Unfortunately I haven't found one of those yet (obviously not looking hard enough!), so no photo to compare. According to the book, the average clutch size is 4 eggs, so that could be it for this bird. Fingers crossed now that the eggs don't get predated. All the nests recorded today will be recorded and monitored for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme, which collects data from around the country on things such as clutch size, laying dates and egg and chick mortality, to help understand why some species are increasing and why some are decreasing. All very interesting stuff. Anyone can join in, even with one nest in a back garden, so if you're interested, please have a look at the above link.