29 July 2014

Is it all over?

Mark Lawrence writes:

We have now reached that part of the season. After the long haul of some incredibly dedicated field work, the time has come when some nest recorders start to wind down. The dawn chorus is now a shadow of its former self and with each passing day there are fewer nests to find. The days of Long-tailed Tit nests in open-mouthed bramble are long gone. The crows' nests lie empty, hidden deep within the leaf canopy of dense trees. Gull chicks are now leaving their nests and some Cuckoos are already in Africa. Our beloved Swifts will soon be leaving our shores and their screaming summer song will be missed.

But it isn't over yet, our team is still getting out there and we continue to nest record. We still have some exciting nesting ahead. We still have the second brood of Reed Warblers to find, we have a Sedge Warbler that should be hatching soon. Tree Pipit, Whinchat, Lesser Redpoll and Stonechat are up on the moors feeding young in the nest. And even better, Mark Penney made a visit last Saturday (19th) and found a new Meadow Pipit with eggs! At our coastal location we have Wren and Yellowhammer on eggs and armed with our Schedule 1 licence, we are right in the middle of conducting an exciting breeding study on the Cirl Bunting. So far we have found 10 nests; six of these have fledged, one brood that I ringed last week just needs one more visit to the nest to record its outcome and we have two still on eggs. These are second brood nests from previously found pairs and one that is building. We have by no means finished yet. We have a trip planned next week for a second brood of Nightjar that could take us well into August.

Cirl Bunting nest and adult male (Josh Marshall)
Locating nests at this time of year can be more difficult and more challenging than earlier in the year when the vegetation is less dense, but the additional effort will add valuable data on late nesting species and timing of events to the Nest Record Scheme database. We may be coming to the end of the nesting season as we reach high summer once again, and our fast awakening autumn yawns its vibrant colours, but there are still many key species to monitor.

I was watching a young Robin just the other day, and I could see its adult plumage beginning to show through. Christmas came to mind, a stark reminder that the winter will soon be upon us and we will long for the nesting season once again. But then I think and smile, it is still the nesting season, and I will enjoy what's left... before the dark winter nights drop on us once again.

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