Perhaps, perhaps not. After a bit of fun with some parcel tape and a stick I was hopeful that the motion detection software might only detect motion, and not leaves, wind, sunlight or clouds. No such luck. 10,050 images this evening to browse through. That’s a lot of thumbnails. In amongst them though, some interesting behaviour …
I think what we’re seeing there is an adult feeding a very eager youngster who can’t wait to leave home. It was a hot sunny day today and this thin-walled birdbox faces due-south on a sunny wall. (There are plenty of other bird boxes to chose from but the blue tits chose this one, year after year. They don’t know that they’re not meant to.)
And every year on hot days like this I fret a little. Far more than the chicks I suspect.
I’m slightly intrigued by that last picture (above). Is it courtship feeding? Or one adult passing food to another to pass into the nestbox?
Then, (after discarding another few thousand thumbnails), it looks like the bold fledgling decides to see the world outside its window.
It must be pretty tough being a blue tit. Yesterday there was a magpie sitting on the roof. Today a starling tried to get in through the front door. The blue tit youngsters must still be in there (I saw an adult with food) and presumably the starling can hear them chirping inside. If the image below is going to be typical then leaving home for the blue tits is going to be a dramatic business.
I don’t know if starlings predate blue tit youngsters but I’ve no reason to assume they don’t. The starlings have been keeping an eye and a claw on the nestbox all day. I wonder how this one will play out …
On a windy day like today the webcam nabs thousands of images (over 7000 today, I’ve seen it as high as 20,000). This is a pain and no amount of tweaking of the settings seems to be having much effect.
What is noticeable though, is how much more time the adults seem to be spending on top of the box.
I haven’t sat outside today so I don’t know if the chicks are still in there. Perhaps this is a prelude to fledging? There are certainly lots of young starlings and house sparrows around so the blue tits must be ready to leave home soon.
Every year I miss the moment. I doubt this year will be any different!
I thought it’d be easier this evening. I wore drabbier clothes, and poured flatter beer. I draped the cover over the mini-greenhouse and huddled against its backdrop. I practically disappeared.
But the alarm calls of the blue tits where very insistent tonight and they were not for feeding. Time after time I heard the chicks calling for food and observed the adults doing a bodyswerve. Then Rosie, my big fat black cat came along and decided to curl up at my feet, and things were not looking good.
I saw both adults, and witnessed one getting so fed-up at the abortive attempts at returning to the nest that it ate the supper itself (quite tasty it looked too).
Guilt gained the high ground, and I decided to call it a night. I was perplexed that the birds would be more spooked tonight, when, if anything, I was drabber and more familiar. I was also interested to see both adults together. How do they manage to produce the alarm calls with their mouths full? Then as I lost interest in them, they lost interest in me, and suddenly decided I was no threat.
The poor old magpie gets a bad press. The truth is, all birds will do whatever needs to be done to ensure survival. Some methods are more overt than others. Some cute, some not so cute. Whatever your survival mechanism, if it involves attempting to raid the nests of (cute) blue tits, then your PR is going to be dented.
I’ve been registered on the BTO Nestbox challenge for years and some years I’m more thorough than others. One nestbox is used year after year by blue tits. Blue South as it’s registered with the BTO, perhaps should be renamed Old Faithfull as it never fails to get used. There’s a webcam that sometimes points in the general direction but it’s rather a hit or miss affair.
But sitting quietly outside, with beer in one hand, and camera in the other, I am soon rewarded …
He (she?) is nervous at first, as he knows I’m sitting there. For a few minutes I was feeling guilty as I could hear the chicks crying for food inside and the adult made a few approaches then flew away again with a series of loud alarm calls. In previous years they’ve soon accepted my presence. When the adult returned for the 3rd time I decided if he spooked out again I’d leave the scene. He didn’t and I managed to get a few nice photos in the fading light.
Meanwhile on the bird table I could see a Jay munching through the dish of the day. Shy birds, I’ve seen them around, but usually fleetingly, and easily spooked. They must be hungry as I managed to get quite close and it seemed remarkably unperturbed. I’m pretty sure it knew I was there as my fieldcraft is not something that would impress Ray Mears.