Monday, 27 July 2015

The Young Ones

Lemon cheeks! (c. O OSullivan)
After a month of pretty indifferent weather, the birds of the year are making their way to my basic offering of shelled peanuts, tucked up in a feeder under a very leafy Willow bush.  The young Blue Tits have a lovely lemon wash to the cheeks, compared to the regulation white of the adult birds, so too the young Great Tits.
They have had to join a queue which includes up to 4 Jays, presumably a family party, along with  a few Greenfinches.
Young Great Tit (O OSullivan)

Other seasonal delights include the constant 'squeaky gate' calls of young Long eared Owls at dusk, and through the night.  We have had a real run of phone calls in BirdWatch Ireland concerning these nocturnal noises and even som submissions of downloaded recordings of these young owls. They are of course,  begging to be fed and hoping to evoke a response from their parents. If you spend a little time and track the origin of the squeaky call, you might be lucky enough to locate a young owl 'branching out', as they make their way to independence..what a fantastic sight, as captured by Shay Connolly in the pic below.

Young Long eared Owl showing off! (c. Shay Connolly)

Another bird that catches out some of our readers is the young Bullfinch, a very brown and plain looking image compared to a showy adult male.  This bird was photographed by Lesley Collins and had actually struck a window, but recovered to fly away and feed amongst some weed seeds.
It is great to catch these youngsters in early autumn plumage before moult when they lose some of their first feathers.  Just like young children, they possess lots of character and a fearlessness that befits youth.

Young Bullfinch, has the bill and beady eye.. but very brown (c. Lesley Collins)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Taking Stock

After 3 separate searches we finally nailed this nest site, on the boundary of the local oak forest ( RH Coombes)

Its high season and high time to review the out turn for our garden birds, breeding season 2015.

Early season activity was encouraged by the mild winter and early spring, but I certainly felt that a wet and generally miserable month of May hampered the nesting cycle.

From the summer visitors, along with many folk, I feel that Swallows are thin in numbers, lets hope that those that made it up from Africa have a decent multi brooded summer. 

Though we have a party of young Blue and Great Tits on the peanuts, there are not many signs of fledged young birds this far.  We had a Robins nest predated and a few nests in the Tit boxes seem to have been constructed but abandoned.
A beakfull of food for young

Down in the Oak forest, after much searching we, (Dick Coombes and myself) finally located the active nest hole of a pair of a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  I have previously located two nest holes in this forest, but always a year behind, so nice to catch up eventually.  The number of nests found in county Wicklow is close to 40 now, a good total for a species that is hard to nail down (expect sore necks from peering into the canopy).   The best time to find or locate a nest is when the adults are feeding young and the procession or regular beat might lead you to the nest tree.  Young birds can be a giveaway too, in their eagerness to attract the adults back to the nest with food, they often make a  fair racket.  Mid May is the best time to hear all that

Of the few nests that could be studied closely, the brood size appears to be small, some with just one or two young, perhaps a reflection of less prey available in Irish forests.

Noisy juvenile pops its head out for food.

Dawn chorus is strangely quiet, the Thrushes have dropped right off, but we still have the ubiquitous Blackcaps with their nervous, scratchy song. Whitethroats are similarly active in the hedgerows and a few Yellowhammers deliver their lazy, pleasantly relaxing song, just the ticket for a long summers day.