10 August 2012

Eggstremely long season

The breeding season starts in earnest in March, you might expect that by the beginning of August, most species would have finished nesting, giving both parents and their offspring time to grow or replace feathers and accumulate fat reserves in preparation for long migratory journeys or harsh winter conditions in the UK. However, volunteers taking part in the Nest Record Scheme are still reporting active nests of many species. It has been a terrible breeding season, with ringers catching very few young birds at Constant Effort Sites and migration hotspots, so these late broods could provide a vital boost to juvenile numbers at the eleventh hour.

After recent flooding destroyed the majority of breeding attempts, we thought that the Reed Warblers at our CES site in Norfolk would give up and move south, but 50 pairs were able lay one more clutch of eggs in a last ditch attempt to make their 9,000km round trip to Africa more worthwhile. The latest chicks will not be leaving the nest until the 26th August.


Many nest recorders still have Swallow and House Martin chicks to ring, with young broods reported this week by observers in North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Suffolk and birds sitting on eggs in East Lothian, Dorset and Devon, the latter close to a pair of Spotted Flycatchers with young still in the nest. Some resident species are still nesting too, including an incubating Yellowhammer found in Cambridgeshire on Tuesday, Reed Bunting and Tree Sparrow broods soon to be ringed in Suffolk and Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Dartford Warbler and Linnet with large chicks this week in Devon.

Reed Warbler

Add to this the traditional late nesters such as Woodpigeon, for which the peak of the nesting season occurs in August and September, Collared Dove, Stock Dove, Barn Owl, Moorhen and Coot, and there are still many more nest recording opportunities to be had in 2012! Contact the Nest Records Organiser for more information.

Thanks to Dave Leech for the photos

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