Thursday 29 June 2017

More eggs!

The good news today, after yesterday's dreadful weather and our poor swifts having to stay in their boxes all day, is that box 3 have laid two eggs.

We thought that perhaps they were incubating because for the last few days one of them at least has stayed in the box all day long, but today was the first day we could confirm it. This photo taken today whilst they both went out, presumably because they are hungry after not feeding at all yesterday (this foul weather is really bad for swifts because they are not able to get out and feed on insects in the air). Here's hoping that we shall have another two swiftlets in a few weeks time! The swiftlets in box 2 continue to do well, althought they didn't get much of a feed yesterday. Box 1 swifts have been out all day as usual and have not laid any eggs yet.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Still growing

Our three young swiftlets in box 2 are still growing well and will probably be overflowing the nest very shortly. Here's a short video taken this morning:

The two other adult pairs, in boxes 1 and 3 are still roosting every evening, but no sign of any eggs from either of them yet. So, counting the 3 swiftlets we now have 9 resident swifts! It would be interesting to know what happened to the two youngsters that fledged last year – did they return to this area or go somewhere else? That's something we'll never know.  Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any sign of any other swifts showing interest in any of our spare boxes, in fact there's little sign of any other swifts at all, when at this time of year there should be 'bangers' around, (newly prospecting two and three year old swifts that bang against the boxes with their wings to ascertain if they are already occupied).  But we're not into July yet, so there's still a chance.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Our swiftlets have hatched!

Apologies for the short break in transmission, I've been sweltering away in sunny Portland for the last week. Before I left we had a pair of swifts in box 1, a pair with three eggs in box 2, a pair in box 3 and a starling family in box 4. But the good news today is that the swift eggs in box 2 hatched earlier this week and the swiftlets are doing well. We were able to see that there are actually three in there this morning and here is a short video of the parents feeding:

The starlings in box 4 raised four young and they fledged whilst I was away.  Here is one of the young being fed
before they fledged:

The box has now been cleared out and is ready and waiting for some swifts to find it – unfortunately apart from our own ones there doesn't seem to be much activity at all locally, so the rest of the boxes may remain untouched.
The occupants of swift boxes 1 and 3 are still bringing in feathers for their nests but neither has laid any eggs yet....we live in hope!

Tuesday 13 June 2017

After box 3 abandoning the two eggs the other day, they have now both disappeared from the nest. They could be lurking under the camera, or maybe they have been tossed out but we couldn't see any sign of them on the ground or in the gutter below the box. But the good news today is that box 3 seems to have found a new partner, so we hope they will settle down together, although it's probably too late for a new clutch of eggs. But hopefully they'll both return next year to breed.

Box 3 newcomer settling in:

We have also seen that there are actually four baby starlings in box 4, but one is usually hidden from view most of the time. They are doing well and growing fast.

Baby starlings in box 4 and two swifts in box 3:

video of the baby starlings:

Box 2 are still incubating their three eggs, and box 1 are spending most of the day out and just coming in to roost, as is the single starling in box 6.

Friday 9 June 2017

A setback

Yesterday one of the birds in box 3 disappeared and did not come back to roost last night. The other bird has had to go out and leave the eggs un-incubated several times, and has been gone most of today so things are not looking good. Maybe a hobby has had it's partner, but at this early stage there's no way the other one could bring the eggs to hatching and at the same time feed itself.  Box 2 is still incubating and still has a partner right now, and the starling in box 4 is still feeding young -  the most we can see are three. And a starling is roosting again in box 6, maybe it's the other parent of the youngsters. The swifts in box 1 seem to have given up bringing in feathers. It seems that this is a bad year for swifts, several people on the swifts local network are saying that numbers are down to a third of what they were last year, so it's not just us seeing very few in our immediate area. We hope that Box 2 will continue to brood their eggs and raise young.

Below, the seemingly abandoned eggs in box 3, with box 2 still incubating, and the baby starlings huddled invisibly in the bottom of the nest:

Monday 5 June 2017

The Starlings have hatched!

Yesterday afternoon the starling eggs in box 4 hatched, I think we have three or four, but it’s difficult to tell right now. The sooner they're fledged and away the better! This morning we had two prospectors at the swift boxes, they were trying boxes 1, 2, 3 and 4 which are all occupied, but ignoring boxes 5 and 6 which are empty. Don’t know why that should be but we hope they find them soon. Box 1 have started nestbuilding, they seem to have got the hint at last after our homemade plywood and feathers nest! Boxes 2 and 3 are still incubating.
Here is box 1, having just brought in a mouthful of feathers:

We don't seem to be seeing as many swifts over the village this year and wonder if the constant renovations of old houses and roofs is having an effect? It seems that any swifts in the air around our area are actually our own ones, so we hope they will bring some more in from somewhere and increase our little colony.