I walked around all the "tit boxes" (87 in total), and found evidence of nests being built in 30, which is quite good for a first visit. Most of the nests were just beginning, with a few being lined, but without any eggs. Just 1 box contained 2 eggs, which were the first of the season. They were uncovered and cold, which means the adult was still laying her clutch. A pair of Blue Tits were seen nearby, so I guess they could be Blue Tit eggs. I'll wait to confirm that on further visits. These eggs are a full month earlier than last year(!), but then we had a very late spring then. Looking back at my notes, the first eggs in 2012 and 2011 were all recorded on or around the 14th April, so it seems that we're spot on this year. I'll check again in about a week, when hopefully there'll be a few more active nests and some more eggs.
First eggs of 2014
Other evidence of breeding activity around the site today included the usual resident woodland birds in good voice (tits, Chaffinch, Wren etc...) several singing Chiffchaffs (4), Blackcaps (3) and the first Willow Warblers of the year (3). The Coot nest found last week was still being incubated, as were the 2 Great-crested Grebe nests, and a new Moorhen nest was also found (first of the year). Unfortunately none of these nests are accessible to monitor for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme, unlike the boxes that will all be followed and reported as the season progresses. Last, but not least, was a brood of 8 Mallard ducklings seen on the middle reservoir. They were very young, most likely just a day or so old. Again, this is very early, as the first brood last year wasn't seen until 6th June!
After Linacre I popped across to Barbrook Plantation to see if I could catch up with a Redstart that had been recorded, a few days ago. I dropped lucky and got good views after just a few minutes.
Year List update:
116 - Swallow
117 - Willow Warbler
118 - Redstart
Whilst checking the boxes I also noted 5 species of bee, 2 species of hoverfly, 6 species of butterfly and a new fly species! Details to come.