The 2013 Nestbox Diary
July - part 2
23 July - We have reached the 'fledging window' for the chicks in SW(le).
It's difficult to really appreciate that each of this pair of resting chicks is on the verge of its monumental first flight to central/southern Africa.
The day has seen the pair alternate between resting, looking out,
and some frenetic exercising, either one at a time or simultaneously!
An interesting event took place in SW(up) this evening. A male House Sparrow arrived in there to roost, presumably the same Sparrow that used the box on a long term basis prior to being evicted at the beginning of the Swift season.
Anyway, when the first if the Swift pair returned for the night it passed by the Sparrow on its way into the box and headed to the other end of the box.
The two birds remained still for a while before the Swift turned and presumably saw the Sparrow. It headed for it, but before there was any contact between them the Sparrow beat a haste withdrawal from the box.
The Swift head back to its original position and settled down until its partner arrived. The Sparrow made no further attempt to enter the box.
Tonight all the Swifts have returned to the monitored boxes.
24 July - At the end of the day (written at 9.30pm) we still have the two chicks, along with their parents and the other two pairs of Swifts.
A little earlier it looked as though the chicks were at least thinking about leaving as they gazed out and engaged in some of the most extreme stretching so far. However, their parents have now returned for the night.
Having said that, in the past we have had a chick fledging after 10pm so it is possible that at least one could still leave tonight.
Late News - I was wrong about the timing! The first chick has fledged - at around 9.57pm! Even with both parents in the box it didn't settled down to roost with them. Instead, it gradually moved closer to the exit and eventually, having looked out several times it just seemed to ease its way out of the box.
It doesn't look as though its sibling will be following tonight.
I hope to add a few images tomorrow.
25 July - At just before 7.30pm the second chick is gazing out through the entrance of SW(le) but apart from a brief spell early on it has not shown any 'threat' of leaving so far.
The day started dull and just a bit damp and none of the Swifts showed any interest in leaving early on.
This image, captured at 6.20am shows the chick sandwiched between its parents.
One of the parents decided that it was time to leave at 8am.
As you can see, the other two pairs of adults were still in their boxes at that time.
There followed a quiet interlude when chick and parent settled down together, with a bit of mutual preening taking place.
Then, at around 8.40am that parent headed for the exit, possibly in response to the sounds of the pair from SW(ri) heading out.
It didn't leave the box immediately but the move towards the exit triggered the chick to follow and start a series of wing exercises.
These were pretty intense, with wing and tail muscles getting a good workout.
Various positions were held for seconds at a time, including this extreme arching of the back!
I wondered if the chick was preparing itself to leave with its parent but that didn't happen.
However, there were a few more exercises before things settled down for the day.
In this one it was virtually on its side as it stretched a wing and arched its tail downwards.
It has had at least a couple of visits by a parent during the day, this one occurring around 12.15pm,
and so far this evening (I'm writing this at 7.50pm) it has spent most of its time looking out, with the occasional low intensity wing stretch.
Having said that, at 7.51pm it decided the step up the exercises, quite literally, as it climbed onto the ledge and spent the next few minutes largely out of sight
before returning to the floor of the box where it spent the next five minutes in activities at least as strenuous as those I watched this morning.
27 July - The sunshine continues, although we are promised heavy rain later in the day - will the second chick decide to wait until that has passed us by?
I'm afraid that yesterday we were out for much of the day and then rather busy for much of the evening, so there was very little time to watch what was (or was not) going on in the boxes.
Whatever might have occurred during our absence, the remaining chick was still with us when I captured this image at 10.20pm last night,
and this morning it is still in the box, showing little intent to head out into the sunshine. Here it is undertaking a rather mild wing exercise just before 11am.
While there was just a day between the two chicks hatching there was a gap of three days between when their eggs were laid, so I'm not really surprised by this apparent delay in fledging, although I would expect it to fledge sometime today, preferably before the heavy rain that is forecast for this evening.
Having said that, tomorrow's forecast is for a sunny day...
This evening has been a development - we have lost the first of our adult Swifts. There is only one roosting in SW(ri) as we approach 10pm.
However, as the picture above shows we still have three birds in SW(le)! Despite spending a great deal of time looking out today the chick was still there when the first of its parents returned for the night at just after 9pm.
Despite the chicks efforts I don't thing it was fed, and the adults seemed to ignore it. The same happened when the second parent arrived at 9.15pm.
This picture shows the adults at the far end of the box.
Soon the positions were reversed, with the chick looking out. At one time it must have been more than half way out of the box,
but then had second thoughts and returned to its parents.
As the time passes 10pm it looks as though they have all settled down for the night - it is raining now!
28 July - After a night that didn't deliver the rain that the forecasters predicted it's a sunny morning,
and (up to 11.30am at least) the chick in SW(le) is staying put!
Meanwhile, after an overnight absence of one of the Swifts from SW(ri), this morning the pair, together once more, arrived in the box at 10.38am.
The day was uneventful and by 9.20pm all the adults had returned for the night.
In this image the chick can be seen looking out of SW(le).
It then appeared to settle down with its parents and I began to think that it was time to pack up for the night.
However, the chick wasn't there for long, and a few minutes later it headed for the exit once more.
I got the impression that this time the parents were somehow aware of a difference in it behaviour as they both turned towards it, one moving across the box to be in contact with its offspring.
Then, as that adult preened itself the chick simply slipped out of the box and into the twilight at just before 9.30pm.
I wonder how far its sibling has already travelled over the last few days.
So we are now back to the three pairs of roosting adults and I have just rejigged the webcam to cover this set of four images once more until the last of these birds sets off on its epic journey South.
30 July - Just a short note today after having missed yesterday all together.
All six adults returned last night and they had a bit of a lay in this morning, which was cool and drizzly.
This evening they are all back again, the last of the six arriving in SW(le) at just before 9.15pm.
31 July - We end the month with all the adults still in residence.
At least once today, one of the Swifts from SW(up) brought in feathers to add to the already well supplied nest.
It seems a pity that all this effort will go to waste as the feathers will decay or be eaten by things such as mites by the time the pair return next year.
And the scene tonight at 9.30pm.
Unfortunately, It is unlikely that I will be adding the large images until next week.
Click on images to see larger versions