The 2011 Nestbox Diary
April (part 2)
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24 April - With the demise of the Blackbirds' clutch of eggs it's time to make last minute preparations for the arrival of the Swifts.
As I mentioned two days ago, on the 22nd I saw three Swifts and a single House Martin. Yesterday, while in my grand-daughters' garden I got a closer, very clear view of a Swift flying low over nearby houses, so the 'pathfinders' are already here, and ours shouldn't be too far behind. I haven't seen any today (up until 5.30pm).
Unlike the situation last year when we had a pair of Sparrows nesting in SW-up, and despite Sparrow activity in the boxes over the last couple of months, the boxes are empty.
Having said that, I have deliberately not cleared out the old sparrow nest used by the Swifts in SW-up last year, and I have also left in place the small amount of debris left over from the Swifts nesting in SW-le, although I have removed as many as I could find of the pupae of the swift louse fly (Crataerina pallida).
Also, I'll be watching carefully whether or not any Swifts have trouble entering boxes SW-le and SW-ri after my modification to exclude Starlings.
Talking of Starlings, This evening I watched food being taken into one of the Swift boxes I put up for my 'next but one' neighbours. And at around 8pm I saw the (possibly) female Blackbird when she landed on the log in the middle of the big pond. The image from the nest camera is still being recorded, so while I don't expect to see it being used I shall be checking it again after dark - it is empty at 8.30pm.
There has been no sign of any Swifts over us this evening - the presence of northerly winds all day is not the most helpful for birds travelling in the opposite direction, and it looks as though there will be little change over the next few days.
25 April - One Swift seen from our garden at the end of the afternoon. It was to the west of us and appeared to be feeding before disappearing behind trees. Winds from the north, north-east of up to 15mph blew for most of the day, so it wasn't really a surprise that we didn't see more Swifts.
There were no visits at all to the Blackbird nest today, and similarly the Sparrows stayed away from the Swift and Martin boxes.
26 April - With the NE winds continuing I didn't expect to see any more Swifts today, but at 8.1pm, as the light was starting to fail there were four overhead briefly.
All but one disappeared towards the west, that lone Swift spending some time directly overhead, frustratingly high, but at least I managed to get a photographic record of its presence this time.
The boxes remain empty tonight. There is an image quality problem with SW-up (top-left in the picture). If I have enough energy tomorrow morning I need to get up into my loft to check the power supply being used for that Swift box and the House Martin nests.
- Click on the images to see larger versions -