The 2009 Nestbox Diary

May (part 5)

Go to the last entry on this page   .......,,,..  Go to previous entry

16 May - and the Great Tits start a second brood....

Great Tit lays first egg of a second brood (+1 infertile egg from 1st brood)

Well, the departure of the chicks would normally have marked the end of the current nesting to report on, except that my suspicions about the Great Tit's behaviour yesterday have been confirmed this morning - she is attempting a second brood!

I suspect the new egg was laid around 3am, but its presence wasn't confirmed until the female left the box at 5.18am.

Just to confuse matters, it joins the infertile egg remaining after the first brood.


Great Tit female brings in soft bedding



At 8.43am the female returned with a beak full of bedding which she used to cover the egg(s).





I haven't seen or heard the Great Tit fledglings since their departure, but that isn't unusual as they may have headed into the Brickfields Country Park where the Oak trees (and the best supply of green caterpillars) are. However, the fact that they left late in the afternoon, before a night of heavy rain wouldn't have given them the best of starts.

While Great Tits may have second broods to replace failed or only partially successful broods, I read that they are less common in UK Great Tits and are more likely to fail, so it will be interesting to see what happens in this case.

New webcam layout



Now that the Starling has fledged, I have rearranged the webcam image to enlarge the pictures from the House Martin nests, although this morning's development means that the Great Tit box retains its priority status!

So far, apart from the Blue Tit rooster, there have been no visitors to either the Swift or House Martin boxes.




Great Tit female roosts tonight



This evening the female Great Tit was back into the box at a very early 6,26pm, settling down to sleep within minutes.




When I was out in the garden at around 7.30pm I could here a male Great Tit at the bottom of the garden, and I'm certain I could also make out at least two youngsters responding. I didn't risk going down to the bottom of the garden to confirm that.

When I checked the recording afterwards it was interesting to see that the female almost completely ignored the calls from outside, and kept her head tucked under her plumage.


17 May - And another surprise from the Great Tit - 2nd clutch now comprises of 3 eggs (+1 infertile from 1st clutch).

Two more eggs laid last night


Overnight she laid not one but two eggs! Perhaps that is why she completely ignored the activities outside yesterday evening.

This is the first time we have seen two eggs produced in one night by any of the birds nesting here.


I couldn't tell from the overnight recording when the eggs were laid, but they were there when she left at 5.14am. She returned with soft bedding at 6.15 and 6.48am before disappearing for the rest of the morning.

Male Great Tit inspects eggs


At 1.05pm the male came into the box and inspected the eggs. He was followed in by the female who carried another bit of bedding in her beak. The male left as she placed it into the nest cup and she followed almost immediately.

At 3.34pm the female returned and spent nearly half an hour sitting on the eggs. She spent another period on them between 4-28-5.05pm before she returned for the night at 6.28pm.


I'm going to be optimistic about the Starling fledgling. I have not seen it at all today, but neither have I seen or heard its mum trying to find it, so perhaps it did end up flying away - fingers crossed. There have been a few visits to the Starling boxes today, the first at 5.55am to both boxes, but there is no sign so far of any birds thinking about nesting in them.



18 May - The second brood progresses.

Great Tits - The second broods gets its fourth egg


A fourth egg was laid at 4.06am and the female left the nest at 5.06am.




Great Tits - The male feeds his partner at 5.08am


She was back in just two minutes later with what looked like a chunk of peanut. No sooner had she settled into the nest when the male entered with what appeared to be another piece of peanut.

She took most of it from him, and he waited until his partner had eaten it before he left. She then ate the bit that she had brought in.

She next left the nest at 5.51am.


During the next hour she brought in three tufts of soft bedding and then disappeared until 9.50am when the stayed for 38 minutes. During the rest of the day she had six further sessions sitting on the eggs - 11.11am, 23 minutes; 12.16pm, 32 min; 1.01pm, 30 min; 2.08pm 20 min; 3.35pm, 34 min; and 4.39pm 21 min. She finally came in for the night at 6.12pm. The male visited her once during the afternoon but brought no food on that occasion.

She spent just over 4 hours sitting on the eggs today in 8 sessions (average around 30minutes) - that could be described as part-time incubation! Could it be a response to the fact that the temperature didn't get up above 15C? However, she spent very little time in the box yesterday when the temperature didn't get above 12C.


The Swift and House Martin boxes continue to remain unvisited, apart from the Blue Tit which left at 4.59am and returned at 8.41pm.

The Starling boxes also remain quiet, apart from three brief visits at 5.34, 6.42 and 7.41am. There continues to be a male which calls and displays on the roofs either side of the driveway.



19 May - The second brood now has five eggs -

Great Tits - The second broods gets its fifth egg


The fifth egg was laid this morning.

As the female builds up the sides of the nest cup once again it is becoming increasingly difficult to photograph the eggs,

Great Tits - The second broods gets its fifth egg - view from cctv camera



so I have to rely on the cctv image to give the better angle of view again.




If it was a case of part-time incubation yesterday, then today there is no doubt that incubation is underway.

The female left the nest for the first time at 5.07am and returned for the night at 18.09pm. Between those times she spent a total of 8hr 21 minutes sitting on the eggs. She achieved this in 17 sessions lasting an average of just under 30 minutes. Turning the figures around, she was out of the nest for just 4hr 41 minutes (an average excursion duration of 15˝ minutes).

The male didn't appear in the box until 8.37pm, when he made two visits with what looked like peanut fragments and then a third, this time with what looked like a small larva. More peanut followed at 8.43pm

Neither did I record any Starling visits. The Blue Tit left its roost at 5.04am and returned at 8.42pm.


20 May - No more eggs this morning.

With no additions to the clutch of five eggs, the Great Tit is now well and truly into the incubation phase of this second brood.

There was a slightly different incubation pattern today. The female first left the box at 5.24am and returned for the night at 6.01pm. During the day she spent a total of 7hr 29min on the eggs over 20 sessions, averaging  just under 22˝min. She was out of the box for a total of 5hr 8min, with an average trip time of just over 14˝min. The male did not visit during the day, but made one appearance in the box at 8.39pm, just two minutes later than his appearance last night.

Perhaps the reduced time on the eggs can be explained by the slightly warmer conditions today. While it was grey, with showers  and a high barely reaching 15C yesterday, today was dry, much brighter and with the temperature hovering between 16-18C for a while during the afternoon.

Away from the Great Tit nest, apart from the Blue Tit leaving its roost at 4.52am and returning at 8.48pm, the only other thing recorded on the other cameras today was a brief inspection of House Martin nest 1 by a Starling!

Swifts in the evening sunshineThere is still no sign of any birds checking out the Swift boxes, despite some low level screaming flyovers by four Swifts today. These appear to be two pairs which I guess already have nesting places (next door, and somewhere else locally). The Swift CD continues to play throughout the day. There are no House Martins in the sky over us at the moment.

Well, when I went outside at around 8.30pm it was not four but eight Swifts flying over us, their wings catching the evening sunshine.



21 May - A largely bright and sunny day with the temperature getting up above 18C, and incubation continuing without any problems in the Great Tit box.

The female left for the first time at 5.22am, and returned for the night at 6.11pm. Of the 12hr 49min between those times she spent 8hr 24min sitting on the eggs during 19 sessions,  these ranging from 41 down to 16 minutes in duration. The male visited just once, at 9.19am.

The Blue Tit left its roost at 4.50am and returned at 8.53pm.

An interesting variation today was that while I recorded no activity at the Starling boxes, a Starling was seen looking into the House Martin boxes at 5.23 and 6.20am.



22 May - Another sunny day, with a high temperature just making it to 19C.

Starlings inspect the House Martin nests


Following on from yesterday's entry, there was Starling activity at the House Martin nests again this morning. This time, a pair of them appeared at 5.57am, taking just a brief look before leaving.

There were no visits to the Starling boxes themselves today.



The Great Tit's day started when she first left at 5.52am and ended some 12˝hr later when she returned for the night at 6.24pm. During that time she spent 6hr 55min sitting on the eggs in 22 sessions (averaging just under 19min each). The male brought food for her just once, at 5.53am while she was away from the box!

The Great Tit nest this evening


Nearly every time the female returns she brings in more soft bedding, and here you can see how she has rebuilt the steep sides of the nest cup over the last week.




As for the Blue Tit, it left its roost at 4.49am and returned tonight at 8.32pm.


23 May - A pleasant day with the temperature creeping up over 20C.

There was no Starling activity recorded today. The Blue Tit left the roost at 4.43am and returned for the night at 8.42pm Unusually, it also returned briefly to House Martin nest 3 at 10.13am.

The Great Tits day started when she left the nest at 5.52am, and ended 12hr 50minutes later when she returned for the night at 6.42pm.

She spent a total of 8hr 23min on the eggs today, in 23 sessions. Before 11.30am, the average time on the eggs was around 29 minutes, but between then and 4pm it dropped to 14˝min before going back up to around 24 minutes for the last four sessions of the day.

The male's only visit (with no food in his beak) was shortly after 9am.


24 May - A cloudless day on which the temperature exceeded 24C, and with very little in the way of a breeze it had a marked effect on the Great Tit's incubation pattern.

She first left the box at 5.28am and finally returned for the night at 6.55pm, some 13hr 27min later.

She spent a total of 6hr 9min sitting today, over 2 hours less than yesterday, and the time was spread over 31 sessions. Before 10.30am they averaged just over 27 minutes in length. Between 10.30am to 5pm the average dropped to just over 6˝min before going back up to around 18min for the final four sessions. Her partner didn't visit today.

Again, there was no Starling activity recorded today. The Blue tit left its roost at 4.40am and returned at 8.61pm

NB: There may well be no entries to this diary for a couple of weeks. However, I will be continuing to monitor progress and I hope to catch up with the entries before the chicks fledge.


- Click on the images to see larger versions -

2009 Nestbox Diary Index.......Start of the Year....  ..Next chapter (June)