This week our Guest Blog comes from author and naturalist, AP Sergeant.

Spring has Sprung! 

The brimming yellow daffodils, popping white snowdrops and soothing violet crocuses are nature’s sure fire signal that new life simmers and that the world is at last, finally waking.

What follows is often the busying of our small birds as attention shifts from winter survival to the very important season’s business of pairing, mating, nesting and of course breeding.

In my garden one such tale is in it’s early verse as a pair of busy blue tits scout the local nesting hotspots.

They fervently flit from feeder to fence, to box, a pot, a neighbour’s tree and after a few minutes grace the cycle starts again.

Every time they alight on the nest hole on our largest bird house my excitement peaks as I begin to believe; finally we will have a resident this year!

But alas no!

Frustration reigns again as their tantalising taunt ends in what feels like a personal rejection every time they up their thrust and bound rudely across to the neighbour’s gardens.

It is at this point I feel they need some expert guidance. This young pair seem too haphazard and jittery. What they need is a pair of calm, experienced (and plucky) nest building wings to guide them towards tip top nesting digs. Ready for when the time comes for the clutch.

It is quite clear to me, they need the help of top avian property experts. Phil Jackdaw and Kirsty Woodpigeon.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

   A blue tit special

PHIL: This week we’re in Lancashire helping blue tit newly mates Mike and Katy in their search for a first year nesting pad that has all the space and style to keep this keen pair busily breeding into two, maybe even three broods.

PHIL: It’s been a stuttering start to their search as they struggle to compromise. So I’m here to help them drill down into the softwood and get to the heart of what it is they really can’t nest without.

PHIL: We start with property one. A large nestbox that boasts two 25mm (perfect blue tit dimension) entrance holes. A north east facing front and sloping roof to keep off the spring showers. It’s close to renewable amenities and has safe local fledging sites. Now I don’t want to brag, but I think this ticks all their bird boxes. You know it could be an early bird bath for me.

PHIL: So Guys what do we think?

MIKE: Erm yeah it’s nice. Location is good, I like the height off the ground. I can see the potential.

PHIL:  Katy you don’t seem so sure?

KATY:  It’s the extra hole Phil. It worries me.

PHIL: Well there’s always a compromise and I personally think it’s a handy edition to have an extra access point.

KATY: Well you would say that being a Jackdaw wouldn’t you Phil? Any chance to have a nibble at those chicks.

PHIL: Oh Katy ouch! Ok well there is potential here but let’s see what else I can show you.

PHIL: Nest site two is a lofty natural crevice in the side of this twenty year old willow tree. The stunning views look out over the local woodland and natural food is abundant. This really is a special spot. Let’s see what they make of it.

MIKE: So it’s obviously stunning and it has real character.

PHIL: Why do I sense a ‘but’ coming?

KATY: Oh, you’re good Phil.

PHIL: Go on then. Burst my beak.

KATY: It’s just too high up Phil. Not enough fledging points.

MIKE: And I’d be worried about the owls here.


KATY: And the sparrowhawks.

MIKE: And no disrespect Phil but the jackdaws too.

PHIL: The jackdaws! Oh no I’m really not hitting the mark today am I. Ok well there is only one thing for it. Time to call in back up. 

KIRSTY: Oh Phil I thought you’d never ask.

PHIL: Kirsty as always your timing is as concise as your caressing coos.

KIRSTY: It seems I’m just in time. As usual Phil you’re all style and no seed. In think this search needs a dose of woodpigeon finesse.

PHIL: Yes I’m quite sure it does. Are you sure you’re ready for this Mike and Katy?

MIKE: Phil you’ve been great but yes, Kirsty – over to you.

KIRSTY: Wonderful. So our last nest is this neat little ONE hole entrance box, 2.5m off the ground, solid north east placement, great fledging points and close to feeders and the woodland is just round the corner too. Voila’! And that Phil, is how it’s done.

KATY: We love it!

PHIL: Brilliant! Kirsty you’ve done it again! I of course did all the hard work and you’ve swooped in for the glory. But its fine, a win for a Woody is a win for a Corvid.

KIRSTY: It’s how we roll Phil.

PHIL:  And we always roll a winner. So there you have it. The perfect nesting arrangement, and not a missing chick in sight. Yet.

 

Time to make some changes.

Thanks to the nesting know-how of Phil Jackdaw and the Kirsty Woodpigeon, two birds with such high breeding success, I can take a fresh look at my arrangements in the garden and see if tweaking my nest box set-up will increase chances of a brood.

I think I’ll double check this rspb guide to make sure I’m ticking every box and with some luck, I’ll have garden full of zeeping tit fledglings come June.

Mike and Katy. I accept your offer, this bird box is off the market.

Happy nesting all.

AP Sergeant

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