Drama at Nestbox 13

Trail camera

A drama began to unfold yesterday as we became aware of a hullaballoo coming from Nestbox 13.

Trail camera

It was full of baby Great Tits, almost ready to fledge by the look of them and often to be seen through the hole waiting eagerly for food.

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This nest box is viewable from the hide and we thought it would be lovely to go in and watch the parents come to and fro with food. However, this is where the story takes a dark turn because we were in there for an hour, with the babies calling loudly the whole time, but no adults to be seen. Feeling anxious for them, I put a camera on the box as we went off to do other things.

Three hours later, still nothing. At this point, I called the local bird expert and ringer who came round and assessed the situation. Unfortunately the conclusion was that there was nothing that we could possibly do that would help rather than hinder and we had to just stand by helplessly and hope for the best.

However, I have to tell you that this story does not have a happy ending. No adults returned to the nest and, at 6.30am this morning, some or all of the babies exited the nest in desperation although we cannot hope that any survived.

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One of the babies exiting the nest

The trail camera shows that we were not the only ones whose attention was caught by the plight of the babies:

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A cat
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Also, a Fox
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A Jay
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A Magpie

Well, we can assume that one, some or all of those predators dealt with the young because by the time we got to the box this morning, it was silent. At lunchtime, we had a look inside and found it empty:

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All very upsetting. But actually there are two other bits of bad news. Firstly, the lovely Wrens’ nest built in the teapot nest got predated yesterday. It was very vulnerable:

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The front of the nest has been pulled away and is lying by the lid of the teapot. I suspect Magpies. The nest is now abandoned.

Secondly, I cannot tell the twin badger cubs apart. It has been about two weeks now since I have seen the two cubs together but I had been hoping that I was seeing them both, just one at a time. However, there is a limit to how long you can keep avoiding the horrible likelihood that actually we have lost one of the cubs – I am now pretty certain that this is what has happened.

But now I am moving on to happier things. We put peanuts out most evenings, timed for dusk after the Magpies have roosted. There is much anticipation of their arrival:

 

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Still half an hour to go!

Last night, after the peanuts went out, we watched from afar with scopes which meant that we got more of an understanding of what was going on than just looking at the trail camera photos:

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The Fox cubs were there within minutes. Shortly after that the female badger arrived and ran at the foxes to chase them away. She was joined by last years cub and they then munched happily on peanuts for ten minutes, encircled by a ring of four silently waiting foxes:

Trail camera

Then the mother badger (on the right) left the scene leaving last years cub. At this point, the foxes decided that they were not prepared to wait any longer and came in to eat.

Trail camera

Surprisingly, the badger was intimidated by this and decided to withdraw, looking regretfully back over her shoulder a couple of times as she left. Then the foxes properly moved in to finish off:

Trail camera

Trail camera

Those peanuts do not last long.

A new butterfly has arrived at the meadows this week, the Gatekeeper:

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One of the visitors here last weekend took this lovely photo of a Painted Lady and a Marbled White on Knapweed. I love the face of the Painted Lady (Gonzo from Sesame Street?):

Painted Lady and Marbled White (1)
Thanks, Chris Gaffney

Crows have been very apparent on the trail cameras. There are lots of them and they are often at the water:

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A Crow-bar?
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Looking straight down the gullet
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Truly terrifying.

For the first Summer since we have been here, there are no Yellowhammers calling in the hedgerows, which is so sad. But here is one at the pond, which is good to see:

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I got hundreds and hundreds of moths in the trap last night. Here are a few interesting ones:

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Buff-tip, disguised as a broken birch twig.
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The Brimstone Moth (as oppose to the Brimstone Butterfly)
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A Swallow-tailed moth (as oppose to a Swallowtail Butterfly)
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Rosy Footman

The once bare earth Turtle Dove strip looks completely different to the rest of the meadow:

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One of our aims is to create a mosaic of different habitats here and this is a step towards doing that.

Its a lovely time of year and the meadows are looking fabulous:

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Although still need some rain.

One thought on “Drama at Nestbox 13

  1. Great photos Judy we find your comments very interesting and are learning something new with èach set. Keep up the good work. We’re encouraged to look deeper into nature and not just accept that it’s there.

    Like

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