Blue Tit Big Brother

And other stories from the garden

Late hatching

We have great tit chicks in our nestbox today. I’m pretty sure that they weren’t there yesterday evening, which means they are a whole 12 days later than last year’s hatch. Here they are:

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Take a look at how much more advanced things were on this day last year. It’s certainly been a slow start to the summer.

Spring may finally be here

I don’t want to risk speaking too soon, but it is actually starting to look as if spring may finally have arrived. The temperature has risen sharply in the past few days, despite the wind, and even now at nearly 8pm it’s still 14.9°C outside.

But more to the point, there is a great tit in the nestbox and an egg. A few days ago there was very little going on—a bit of nesting material in there, but nothing you could really call a nest and certainly no sign of eggs. But in the last couple of days the nest has started to take shape, and today an egg has appeared.

And in the garden there is plenty of yellow to be seen. The daffs and narcissi have been around for a while, but we now have primroses, cow slips and at least two ranunculus species (that’s buttercups and such like). And not yellow, but a couple of days ago the snake’s head fritillaries flowered. Meanwhile, in the pond the frogs’ spawn has turned into tadpoles, although not that many considering how much spawn there was earlier. Perhaps it didn’t like the late frosts.

A second brood

It’s never happened before, so we’d sort of stopped checking. But yesterday evening when the DVD we’d been watching came to an end the DVD player switched itself over to the nestcam. And there was a great tit sitting in clearly newly constructed nest cup. She was fidgeting a lot but it was impossible to see if she was actually sitting on anything.

But this morning when we put the telly on she’d popped out to gather grubs revealing five chicks in the next box! Looking back at film of the last lot I reckon they’re about 5 or 6 day old now.

They’ve gone!

All the chicks have fledged. Some of them (it’s kind of difficult to count) left the nest yesterday. The rest went first thing this morning, with one chap hanging around on his own for quite a while. It’s the first time the chicks in the nest box haven’t all left on the same day. But then, it’s the first time we’ve had great tits, so perhaps it’s not unusual for them. 13 May is also the earliest we’ve seen chicks fly the nest, by quite a margin.

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Housework

It’s really difficult to count, but it looks as if there might be nine chicks in the nest. They certainly keep the parents busy with feeding and tidying up after them. Here’s some video from today.

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Mother and father great tit are working hard feeding the chicks and they’re growing well. They’re getting feathers and are now much more animated than they were. Here’s a short clip.

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Chicks have hatched

The great tit chicks had hatched this morning, a miserable, cold, wet day. They looked really floppy first thing and we were worried they might not make it because the parents couldn’t get out and find food. Sophie rushed out to buy meal worms, but we think the starlings had them all. Still, by this evening they are looking a lot more lively. And so much mouth!

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Great tits on video

I guess there’s a chance this isn’t what you were expecting when you clicked that link, but this is a blog post about the bird Parus major, the great tit. This year we have a pair of great tits nesting in our big brother nest box. I suppose I ought to change the name of the blog really.

They started nest building three or four weeks ago whilst we were away in Gambia. We haven’t been very good at recording things this year, so I’m not sure when laying started, but they’re now up to eight eggs. Mrs Great Tit seems to be sitting now, although she does spend a good deal of time out of the nest. The male is bringing her food in regularly. Here’s a few snippets from this evening.

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They’re a lot tidier than the sparrows we had last year. Lovely as sparrows are, they don’t make good viewing as they just filled the nest box with grass and completely obscured the camera. The great tits are far more co-operative. It’s not the first time there have been great tits in the box—a great tit roosted in there in 2009—but it’s the first time they have nested.

Spring is on its way

It’s been a warm sunny day and there are plenty of signs of spring in the garden. The end of the garden is full of primroses and there are at least eight frogs hanging about in the pond, and masses of frog spawn. As yet there is no nesting activity going on in the nest box, but there was a pair of blue tits checking it out today, so hopefully something will appear soon.

Last year sparrows took up residence in the box. It might have been nice to have the change, but sparrows are messy nesters. The huge ball of stuff that they piled in completely obscured the camera and we couldn’t see a thing.

We have seen a great tit roosting in the box in the last few weeks, but he seems to have given up on it.

Wild flowers

At last. Our wild flower meadow finally has a decent show of wild flowers. It’s taken several years. We originally seeded it in 2008, just after the garden makeover. We’ve added more flower seed since then, and a bunch of plugs, and now in its third season it’s actually starting to look like a meadow.

Wild flowers

The meadow

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