Thursday, 23 August 2012

Sally's nesting success in Halton

Hi Lee

I was interested to read your comment about your poor breeding record this year, and I thought I would send you some good news!

My resident pair of Blackbirds have done exceptionally well this year but it is all due to a plentiful supply of live meal worms. I felt humbled and honoured when they brought their 4 young to the backdoor for the worms - this was about their third brood (see pic).

However, House Sparrows have been my success story. A terrace nest box especially for sparrows hadn't been used in five years except by roosting tits, but this year not one but two of the segments have been used, raising two broods of 4 (see pic). Here again, it was during the dreadful wet weather and they only survived because of the meal worms I provided.

I was amazed, however, at the number of Sparrows coming into the worm feeder and I could see from my landing window that they were travelling quite a long way to other gardens. When they fledged they all seemed to end up in my garden but, inevitably, this brought in the local Sparrowhawk who took a few (see pic). I still have a largish flock of resident sparrows who roost in a special bush in the front garden and the noise they make just prior to roosting has to be heard!

Another bird to have done well is the resident pair of Great Tits. I'm pretty sure they are the same pair which used the box last year when they raised 10 young and this year they have again raised 10 young (see pic). I didn't clear out the box (as you should) because they had lined it with beautiful, warm cladding which would have provided warmth during the winter roosting. Here again, it was only the meal worms which kept them alive during the wet weather. They would come into the kitchen for them and if the feeder was empty they would flutter at the kitchen window to draw my attention! The Blackbirds also did this

Last, but not least, the resident pair of Robins. Last year they nested in a coconut shell and raised 12 young from three nestings. This year when I checked the shell a wood mouse had taken up residence so they nested elsewhere. Again, they were desperate for live meal worms and would also come into the kitchen. A young robin would take them from my hand (see pic).

The meal worms have cost me a lot this season but when they bring their young to see you, it is very humbling and I feel very privileged.

Sally Douglas

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