This year we’ve been keeping a record of the birds visiting our garden on a daily basis. During the winter we had a flock of long tailed tits visit, along with a goldcrest. We’ve had a sparrowhawk land on the fence and red kites, buzzards and a kestrel are regularly seen overhead. We also have regular visitors to the garden; woodpigeons, magpies, blue tits, robins and a pair of great tits. Along the fence we have some nest boxes. This year the great tits decided to raise a family in our garden. Here’s how it happened:
January 2016- we started to see a pair of great tits in the garden.
February 2016- they hung around throughout February, feeding on our bird feeders.
Sitting on the guinea pig run
March 2016- on the 6th March we put out nesting material, we saw blue tits, robins and the great tits collecting nesting material. By the 29th we had seen the great tits popping in and out of the honeysuckle, where one of the nest boxes was, with nesting material.
Collecting nesting material
April 2016- on the 10th April we were sure they were nesting, we had watched them flying in with huge beakfuls of material scavenged from the bug house. On the 11th we had to take down a mirror hanging in the garden as the male great tit was fighting with his own reflection. By the 12th all the birds were getting territorial and collecting nesting material. Overhead the blue tits even attempted to chase away the kestrel. On the 13th the male great tit spent a lot of the day on top of the washing line, shouting his territory, while the female collected nesting material we had provided. They continued preparing their nest, the male taking issue with his reflection in the car wing mirrors in the car park behind our garden on a regular basis.
Asserting his territory from atop the washing line
May 16 by early May we were sure that nesting had started. on the 8th May this was confirmed when we watched caterpillars being taken into the nest. We watched them bringing food to the nest box regularly.
Then, on the 12th May, disaster struck. The honeysuckle that the nest box was in detached from the fence in windy weather, bringing the trellis it was attached to and the nest box down with it. Fortunately my husband was home and was able to pick the nest box up and reattach it to the fence, while the great tit chicks tweeted inside and the adults fluttered around the garden, shouting a warning.
Fortunately the chicks survived, getting louder by the day, with the parents bringing food every more regularly. By the 22nd the chicks were very noisy and I heard one of the chicks flapping their wings inside the box.
On the 23rd, the first of the chicks fledged. Sadly, they were quickly predated by a magpie, who ate them on the roof of a nearby building. A little later in the day 3 fledged in very quick succession, hung out in the garden for a while and then left safely.
That evening we could still hear chicks in the nest box and one of the parent birds was coming back regularly to feed them.
24th May: Early the next morning at about six thirty, I could still hear the chicks in the nest box when I left for work. By the time my husband next went into the garden a few hours later they had all fledged and gone.
During the rest of the day one of the adults continued to visit the garden, taking away food with them.
25th May- we saw the two adults flying over with at least one chick. We hope that they will survive.
Now that the chicks have fledged, we’ll be trimming the honeysuckle and when we clear the nestbox in early winter we’ll make sure it’s more secure in the hope of more birds making their home there in 2017.