Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Baby Birds and Flying Insects

In March I placed 12 nest boxes in the riverine woods at Little Langton. Regular checks to date had uncovered no activity at all. This weekend however, blue tits were witnessed arriving at boxes one and five with food for their young.

Blue tit leaving box one with a parcel of nestling droppings:

Squirrel damage to box five, which currently houses another clutch of blue tits:

There is still plenty of summer left, so I'm optimistic that more of the boxes will be occupied. I had suspected that box seven was being used by marsh tits that reacted to my presence when I approached it, but showed no intent to visit the box while I was watching. I may never know now that this noisy young fledgling indicated that they have finished their first brood already:

Before I left for Scotland I had also uncovered a great spotted woodpecker nest high in a tree and a treecreeper nest, tucked into a fold of a birch splintered by the force of the slipping river bank. On inspection, the woodpecker nest is now silent and the treecreepers have stopped visiting the mangled tree trunk... it's impossible to know whether this is due to successful fledging or whether the nests failed, but I'll keep watching for attempts at a second brood for each these birds.

In the South of the patch, the fine weather has brought out good numbers of flying insects (but not as much as it should have - I've written separately about the disappointing lack of wild-flowers in the parish). This is clearly going to be a painted lady year with my first sighting followed quickly by my second and third. Alas, they were far too mobile in the heat of the day to photograph, showing no inclination to settle for more than a split-second.

There were other more accommodating insects on the wing however. Peacock have been present all year and must surely be about to disappear as caterpillars and pupae for  the summer before returning again in August.

Wall can be found everywhere in Thrintoft, which is very encouraging for a species that is declining nationally. This one appears to have drawn the attention of a hungry bird.

The only other species on the wing are the four white species and small tortoiseshell.

Holly and common blue are disappointingly scarce locally and I've seen neither for years. Small and large skipper should be emerging about now, but I've scoured the patch and can find no suitable habitat for them. Before the month is out, second generation red admiral will join the common grassland browns like ringlet and meadow brown and I still have comma and small copper to tick off. Then in July, my systematic effort to find white-letter and purple hairstreak will begin.

The first record of odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) this year was banded demoiselle, which were out on the river in force. They have a terrible habit of letting you close enough to frame a photograph before taking off just as you press the shutter. The only ones that like having their photos taken are those settled on ugly backgrounds!

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