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Showing posts from May, 2015

Checking Nest Boxes – part 2

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Yesterday afternoon, I checked the new nest boxes on Allerthorpe Common again, with the BTO bird ringer who is also a member of the reserve’s volunteer group. Now all five of the boxes with 28mm holes are in use. One has a nest just a quarter built, two have blue tit eggs that are still being incubated and two have blue tit chicks. One brood of eight chicks were very small – their eyes had only just opened – while the other brood of ten were bigger and had their primary feathers appearing. They were large enough to be ringed.

Ringing a blue tit chick
Ten chicks returned to the box
In both boxes with eggs, the adult female was sitting, so we were able to remove them for ringing, then ‘post’ them back into their boxes. They both appeared to settle back on their eggs immediately. We recorded every detail of the progress of each nest. All the information gathered will be entered into the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.
Adult blue tit getting its ring
The box in my garden also has chicks in …

Checking Nest Boxes

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In January I made some small nest boxes. Of the five with 28mm holes we put up in Allerthorpe Common nature reserve, three are now occupied. A member of the Allerthorpe volunteer group is a BTO bird ringer, so he’s checking the boxes, but I was able to accompany him last week. He stuffs a cloth in the hole before opening the box, so any sitting bird cannot fly off. A disturbed great tit is likely to abandon the nest, so if the box is occupied he just shuts it again, removes the cloth and quietly moves away.I photographed a clutch of a dozen blue tit eggs in one of the boxes, in a beautifully constructed nest decorated with orange and green wool.

Tansy Plants for Tansy Beetles

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This is the third year I’ve grown tansy plants, to help conservation of the endangered tansy beetle which lives along the banks of the River Ouse around York. So far, I’ve pricked out 1500 seedlings into plug plant trays and have another 500 to do. This is the tedious part of the job, but it’s great to see them growing and I’ll be pleased when they’re big enough, and the weather warm enough, for me to put them outside to harden off. By July I should have them ready to plant out along the river bank. The Tansy Beetle Action Group (TBAG) coordinate tansy beetle conservation, so I let them decide where the plants will go. Three sites have been identified already - there's a big demand for them this year.

Trays of tansy plants in my conservatory
The main tansy beetle surveys are carried out in late summer, when the new generation of beetles emerge from their pupae. For the strip of river bank that I survey, I’m doing a spring beetle count this year as well. I carried out a recce a few …

Update from the Badger Sett

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There are a lot of pheasants around at the moment. I regularly drive through an estate where they apparently breed pheasants in large numbers. Lots of them feed along the grass verges and inevitably many get run over. The carnage along that stretch of road is appalling, but nobody cares. 

Down at Badger Wood, I’m having problems with two pheasants that come into the wood to roost, at the same spot, at the same time each evening. They have discovered the peanuts I put out for the badgers. If I don’t chase the pheasants away, they’ll eat the lot, but if I do then the noise I make disturbs the badgers and they won’t come out!

Is it safe to come out yet?
It was interesting to see what happens when pheasant and badger meet. I thought the badger would at least try to catch the pheasant, but it just didn’t bother. The pheasant wandered off and the badger got the peanuts.

When pheasant meets badger, er, nothing much happens
Though it’s still possible that some cubs will emerge in the next few week…