3 May - Day that Hatching
On a Bright, sunny morning
the next stage of the Blue Tits' Spring efforts is under way
as hatching starts around 8.30am
Chick #1 -
I shall have to check my video
recordings to confirm it, but I think this was the first of the
chicks to hatch.
The female ate the shell.
As I wrote this at 8.54am mum
left the nest and I was able to get a first clear glimpse of
a chick. The egg on the left was developing a crack.
Chick #2 -
As I watched it widened as
a second chick made its way into the world. This was the best
view of hatching I have had in three years of watching the box!
Here, dad brings an oversized
morsel as the second chick struggles to discard its shell. He
has been in and out like a yo-yo since hatching began.
This closer view of the second
chick emerging from its egg was captured from video. While it
struggled to get the shell off its head, mum and dad were busy
passing back and forth to each other the caterpillar that the
male is seen with in the image above..
When the shell was finally
removed, the female ate one half and the male took the other
out of the box.
The doting parents look down
in wonder as one of their first chicks begs for food.
As dad looks on, one chick
spreads its wings(!) as it lies on top of a couple of eggs (10.30am).
It is amazing to think that in three weeks this little thing
will be transformed into a fully feathered flying Blue Tit.
There are no signs of further
hatching as yet and mum has to continue with her incubation duties
between tending to those first hatchlings. The male frequently
brings her food during these periods and a lot of passing back
and forth takes place between them.
In fact, at this stage food
is being brought in faster than the chicks can cope with, and
a number of times the male has taken the food away again.
Chick #3 -
Just before noon mum left the
nest allowing a view of the third chick struggling out of its
Chick #4(?) -
Mum pulled out (and ate) another
piece of shell at 1.29pm, suggesting that another chick has joined
the throng. A head count will be needed to confirm this.
Chick #5(?) -
More egg shell was removed
just before 2pm. The picture shows the male on the left passing
food to his partner before removing the shell from the box.
There are still four intact
Chick #6(?) -
2.20pm saw the emergence of
another large shell fragment which mum dumped at the side of
the nest cup. A few moments later the male appeared with a caterpillar
which was eaten by the female. He then left with the shell. Three
more to go!
Chick #7(?) - I popped out the garden for a minute around 2.55pm
and missed another large piece of shell being removed by mum.
Chick #8(?) - Around 3pm two more shell pieces, looking like
the two halves of a shell appeared, one being left at the side
and the other end being eaten (the picture).
Confusion! - at 3.20pm I can
still see two eggs in the nest cup, I think a re-count will be
I've been away from the computer
for a couple of hours, but at 7.45pm the egg situation appears
unchanged. Mum has just returned from a late trip and may be
settling down for the night. I will wait a bit longer before
I turn off the visible light in the box. Having thought she was
in for the night, she left again at 7.57pm.
her absence the microphone in the box picked up faint chirps
being made by the chicks as they waited. The webcam image shows
six of them hoping for a feed.Mum was back in 2 minutes, although
she did not bring any food.
Last year an egg hatched at
just after 4am on the second day so it will be a case of watching
the video first thing tomorrow.
This image from a video recorded
earlier this evening, shows a couple of the chicks a bit more
clearly than the webcam images can. They are blind, and will
remain so into the second week of their development. You may
just make out the tufts of downy feathers that stick out at the
tops of their heads.
They are surprisingly mobile,
although they can only hold their heads up for short periods.