Monday, 2 March 2015

Preparing our nestboxes for the new season

The Airedale Otters leaders recently visited Deep Cliff Wood in Harden to clean out the nestboxes ready for the 2015 breeding season. We placed 14 nestboxes in the private wood in January 2012 and have checked and cleaned them every year since then.

 Cleaning a nestbox - Deep Cliff Wood, Harden, February 2015

While we clean the nestboxes we also check to see if any have been used in the previous breeding season, and by which species. The results for the previous years can be found here: 2012 and 2013. The contents of the nestboxes this time will be from the 2014 breeding season.

Here’s a full list of what we found this year:

Box number
What we found
Bird poo!
Partially-built Great Tit nest.
Probable Nuthatch nest
Empty and clean
Bird poo!
Empty, though with some grass and poo
Empty and clean
Complete Blue Tit nest
Empty and clean
Partially-built nest
Empty and clean
Bird poo!
Complete Coal Tit nest
Complete Blue Tit nest 

The results are very similar to previous years, with at least three completed nests and two partially-built nests. Box 23 had our first Coal Tit nest. For the first time, we didn't find any unhatched/failed eggs.

The most interesting find was in box 3. The bottom of the box was filled with bark and soft, dry, rotten wood from a silver birch - up to a depth of 50mm (about 2"). The most likely candidate for this nest is the Nuthatch, which we have seen and heard plenty of in the surrounding woodland. Let's hope they come back and nest again this year.

 Nuthatch (photo Stephen Lilley)

We also found this discarded bottle full of moss in the wood. The moss, which would normally struggle to find sunlight under all the fallen leaves, had grown in the bottle - using it like a greenhouse.

 Moss growing in a milk bottle - Deep Cliff Wood, Harden, February 2015

Because the bottle was on top of the leaves, the moss could have as much sunlight as it needed; while the bottle created a moist micro-climate, just as the moss prefers. It's amazing what nature can do!

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