Yesterday morning I was down at Linacre with Ray from the Sorby Breck Ringing Group to check the nestboxes and ring the last few broods of chicks.
We started off checking the box that contained a Mandarin Duck nest with 10 eggs last week. Unfortunately, as we approached the nestbox, a Grey Squirrel jumped out! We checked the box and, as was expected, it was devoid of eggs or chicks. Obviously we don't know exactly what happened here, but there are, in my mind, 2 possible scenarios. Either, the Mandarin eggs hatched and the young left the nest with the female bird, after which the squirrel moved in (my preferred option), or the squirrel found the nest of eggs, chased off the female Mandarin and ate the eggs. The only silver lining is that a female bird with 10 ducklings was reported on the reservoirs ,so lets hope it was the female from this nest.
After the Mandarin box, we moved on to check the remaining 7 tit boxes. Out of the 7, 6 contained chicks that were ready to ring, including 4 Pied Flycatchers (the first successful breeding at Linacre since 2010). 1 box had been destroyed by what looked like a squirrel.
Now that all the nestboxes have been ringed I can give the totals for the year: Blue Tit (17 broods and 108 chicks), Great Tit (4 broods and 26 chicks), Pied Flycatcher (1 brood and 4 chicks), Mandarin Ducks (2 nests of 13 and 10 eggs).
Both Blue and Great Tit numbers are down on the previous 2 years. The Great Tit total of just 4 broods is very disappointing compared to 11 broods and 76 young in 2014 and 13 broods and 72 young in 2015. Likewise, Blue Tits numbers were lower than in the previous two years (19 broods and 160 chicks in 2014 and 16 broods and 132 chicks in 2015). Hopefully, 2017 will see a return to previous year's results, especially for Great Tits.
All the results will be sent of to the BTO's Nest record Scheme.