Saturday, 21 July 2007

Fears for other birds

While our peregrines successfully reared their young despite the awful weather we have been having recently here in the UK, there are fears for many other birds this summer. The frequent floods have wiped out nests of water birds such as grebes, kingfishers and ground nesting waders and duck.

And the lack of insects due to prolonged periods of rain, threatens the survival of the young of small, insectivorous birds such as warblers and flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher
In our own garden and to our great delight, a pair of spotted flycatchers recently adopted a purpose-built nest box on the house right outside the kitchen window. Judging by the late laying date, this pair must have nested elsewhere in May/June and now be trying again, perhaps having failed first time round.
My photos show the nest box tucked under the gutter....a tad smaller and easier to construct than the peregrine platform - and somewhat easier to put up as one of an adult spotted flycatcher (photographer unknown). The lowest photo, taken through the window, shows an adult peering out of the box while brooding its chick.

The two eggs hatched some ten days ago but the availability of flying insects since has been severely restricted by days of rain and cool temperatures and we fear for the one surviving chick which is still quite un-feathered even now.

Spotted flycatchers spend the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their numbers in the UK have fallen drastically in the last decade, possibly due to less favourable conditions in their wintering quarters.

So, for that reason alone, we are particularly keen that this pair rear their single chick. However, today's poor wet weather following on from yesterday's doesn't bode well I'm afraid. Our fingers are firmly crossed.......

Incidentally, spotted flycatchers have a charisma all their own, obviously quite different from that of falcons. Dull brown in plumage and with a monosyllabic 'song', what they lack in these respects they more than make up for by their graceful flycatching behaviour and their very confiding habits. Succeed or fail, they'll soon be gone and I for one will sorely miss them, just as we all miss seeing our young peregrines.....

Nick B


helenhoward said...

lets keep our fingers, legs, eyes crossed etc that the chick does survive. keep us informed!!

Karen Anne said...

Thinking good thoughts for those birds.

Anonymous said...

Hello from Dayton! :)
I have also seen a decline in my usual garden birds this year, sadly. I have only 2 goldfinches and no hummingbirds or woodpeckers. I live close to the city and there is construction on a new school going on nearby, so I'm hoping the construction is keeping my tiny flying friends away. We had a bitterly cold spring with hard freezes until early May, so perhaps our strange weather has not been helpful, either.
I'm missing my peregrines, as well. I have been around the downtown nestbox and bicycling along the rivers near downtown but they are not to be seen to my very untrained eye.
The last edition of the US "Audobon" magazine warns we are losing habitat for so many of our most common birds - disturbing. It looks as if your birds are having a tough time, as well. I'll be keeping the feeders well stocked and planting a tree or two and some flowers to help, also a nice winter birdbath to help all of them as I can.
It really helps to know you all, so far away, are feeling, and acting upon those feelings, to help birds and all our wild friends.
Pretty pictures of the nest in your garden, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I too have been fearing for other birds and animals, as there seem so few insects about - my lavender which is usually full of bees this time of year just has one or two at a time.

We are all in this together, don't forget those unfortunate humans beings who have been flooded out - we really must help and pray for all sentient beings. I am very lucky I live near the top of a hill.

Anna, Ripley

Anonymous said...

yes the buddlieas are all in full bloom and usually teaming with butterflies but there is hardly any this year, we have had a successful brood of robins in our old garden wall which was lovely to watch during the days, this rain has been awful though for a lot of wildlife.