Bon Voyage

Far too late in posting this but I can be a little far too laid back at times and I’m far too old in the tooth now to ever change 😁.

I’ve had empty boxes now since the 24th August, the first of two chicks fledged on the 22nd and was followed by the second in the early hours of the 24th, a little after 4am to be precise. This would have fledged into darkness and if my memory serves me, my first chick I’ve witnessed to do so. Only one adult had remained with them the last few days and this bird never returned that evening to roost and already began its long journey South.

15th and final chick to fledge.

So there we have it for 2022, plenty of highs and a scattering of lows but a year that will definitely be remembered for a very long time. Safe travels my feathered friends and I’ll see you in a eight months time, not that I’m counting πŸ˜‚

It’s nearly all over

I’m currently sitting here on my nightshift and I know I needed to update my blog so I thought I’d quickly check in on my cameras only to find each chick in box 17 and 22 had fledged last night on the evening of the 13th Aug. I did have them both down to fledge on the same day(15th) and interestingly after looking back at the camera footage, both pairs of adults last roosted with their chick on the 11th Aug. Then from what I can tell they never returned for any subsequent feeds during the days before fledging but I would have to look at the footage more thoroughly to confirm this. The other thing of note is both chicks fledged in the evening just after 9pm and both within 5 minutes of each other, while all other chicks I’ve witnessed this year have fledged in the morning.

So that leaves just me with box 20 which I think is quite poignant as this pair really didn’t look like it would succeed this year. A new pair for my house and arriving back in May, they had already laid two clutches of eggs and both were knocked out accidentally and despite my best efforts to put back in the nest they just did it again. So when they went on to lay a third clutch, I couldn’t have been happier, by then the nest cup had more depth to it as more material had been added over the days before and the eggs stayed firmly in place. The chicks are now approximately 32 days older and are frequently doing press ups and gearing up for leaving the nest which will be around the 24th Aug.

Last of the few

1st August 2022

Was meant to post this days ago but then forgot πŸ™„ oh well.

Another box bites the dust, well actually another two, that’s one thing I’ve noticed with these birds in that two different pairs will lay their eggs at almost identical times which will then lead to both sets of young fledging on the same days. It happened last year with pairs in box 3 and 20a and this year they were the same, then both chicks in box fifteen fledged on the 29th July as did one chick from box 24, then the second left on the 30th. I also have pairs in boxes 17 and 22 down to fledge on the 15th of August, is that too many to be a coincidence? Who knows.

Now that my chicks have fledged from box 15 I was able to finish off a video I was putting together. I recorded multiple feeds from NEARLY every day (must try harder next time) from when they hatched to fledging, with the video culminating with both birds leaving the nest after 41 days. I have to admit it tugged at my heart strings a little when I finally watched it in its entirety and not knowing what lies ahead in the next leg of their journey.

My oldest returning Swift pair raising this year’s young.

It’s time to go

As my title says, for some it’s been time to go and already I have two boxes devoid of chicks. Box 20a had the first chick fledge on the 21st July and a second on the 23rd with the last going on the 24th, box 3 was much the same, fledging on the 23rd and 24th July. Next up will be boxes 15 and 24 which I’m expecting the first birds to leave around the 30th July.

I’ve also had a few people visit after I arranged and advertised that I would open my garden for those that were interested in what I’ve done. It was great to chat to other people and hear their experiences and stories of colonies they have both in boxes put up themselves or natural colonies they have nearby. I’ve also offered to help survey a house and build a few boxes for a couple once they’ve moved into their property so definitely a positive outcome from organizing this.

I also recorded a walkthrough of my boxes I’ve made and put on to my house just to give a visual aspect to my colony.

18th July 2022

I’m currently sat in my garden enjoying the buzz of screaming birds while the evening brings about more tolerable temperature after what has been a painfully hot day and I can only imagine how it’s felt for the chicks inside my boxes. I have at times turned on my cameras briefly just to do a quick check and head count before then turning them back off and thankfully I have no casualties yet.

Adult bird panting
Two chicks getting some air at the entrance

Despite the hot weather the prospecting birds continue to check out boxes and also annoy the residents that are Insitu and it was only yesterday that I caught sight of two birds disappearing up and inside box 8. They then proceeded to scream at any other birds that dared to get too close so a great sign and this would in fact bring my total now to 13 pairs after I did confirm a pair in box 12 that I see come in to roost.

Who’s that bald guy down thereπŸ˜‚

To finish up, I will often sit on top of my outbuilding while the birds prospect the boxes and on occasions I’ve stood under the boxes for a few minutes too. They continue to prospect oblivious to my presence and on this one occasion I captured some video of the moment and caught one bird that came amazingly close. I then screen grabbed the image and absolutely fell in love with it and it will be the image that sums up 2022 with these birds.

11th July 2022

The weather just keeps getting hotter here and it is a worry that the young will be ok, as it is set to continue for the foreseeable future. So I do plan on turning my cameras off during the day now as they do run hot and I don’t want them to add to the current situation.

It’s still as busy as ever with prospecting birds and I’m now seeing birds confidently going into box 12 and currently one bird in 19, my loft box that has access via my homemade entrance.

Box 19

On to my birds with chicks and eggs, currently all chicks look like they’re progressing well and are all in various states of growth. The pair in box 17 hatched their egg on the 4th July and box 22’s hatched on the 5th, a second egg in box 22 didn’t hatch but it still currently sits in the nest.

My last pair on eggs in box 20 could be seen today fidgeting on the nest and I’ve seen this often when a new chick has hatched and it wasn’t long before I noticed half an egg shell discard in the box. Which is a real success for this pair as this last clutch of eggs will be the third clutch they have laid this year after knocking the last two outπŸ‘Œ

Chick from box 20a

5th July 2022

Well it’s been an interesting week with both good and bad news, so starting with the bad, my birds in box 21a after having incubated for about a week managed to knock both eggs out the nest, one on the 30th June and the other a day later. Time is getting on now so I’m not sure if they will attempt a second clutch but it is still doable should they try.

The good news is I definitely now have another new pair, after I see birds coming and going in box 23 on the 29th of June and they have begun to roost from the 1st of july. These will be interesting to watch as there is still a possibility they can lay eggs if they are mature enough and would be nice to have some late birds kicking around still into September.

New pair roosting box 23

I also had some guests around at the weekend after three of my Twitter followers asked if they could visit the colony. Nik, Keith and Richard are all keen wildlife and bird fans and after seeing my plans for hosting an open garden later in the month, had asked if they could come sooner. I must admit I was a little bit nervous, as you can never be sure if the birds would play ball and put on a show however I needn’t have worried.

It wasn’t long before some low level flybys skimmed our heads and seeing the reactions from them really did make my day. Birds continued to come and go throughout their stay and we enjoyed some good conversations while they also tried to get some camera footage. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and has set me up for my open days later this month.

My prospecting bird numbers appeared to have increased and the morning was very busy with birds being seen going into unoccupied boxes on both my front and side aspect. Things also got messy on my rear aspect after a new Swift disappeared into box 23 only to be greeted by its two residents.

A fight did ensue for around thirty minutes which led to the interloper finding itself partway out the entrance but on its back. After watching for five minutes or so I decided to take action as it appeared no amount of struggling was helping to free itself, so I shimmied up the ladder and took of the front panel of the box. The other bird had by now retreated into the corner but even with more space the hapless Swift couldn’t turn itself back over, so I gently pulled him out and twisted my hand making it the right way up and then it flew off strongly and hopefully it’ll be none the worse for its ordeal.

Finally the single egg in box 17 hatched on the 4th and today the 5th July, the first egg has hatched in box 22, plus prospecting birds have continued to have fun.

28th June

My pair in box 20 haven’t had the best of starts to breeding after having laid two clutches and knocking both clutches out of the nest. I honestly thought that would be their lot for this season however they have laid for a third time, with the first egg on 22nd June and second the 24th and since have been sitting tight incubating. This pair certainly deserves some chicks and just shows how many times a Swift will egg lay should a clutch fail for whatever reason.

1st egg and a third attempt at rearing young.

All pairs with chicks are all still doing well, pairs in box 24 and 15 have started leaving them alone for periods while hunting.

My pair in box 21a have also laid this week with their 1st egg on the 21st of June and 2nd on the 23rd. While all other remaining pairs appear to be incubating well and from what I can tell there haven’t been any other eggs displaced or knocked out.

On the prospecting front my mornings have recently become very lively, sometimes as early as 5:15am which does have a tendency to wake me up if I don’t keep my bedroom window shut πŸ˜‚ I’m wondering how long before my neighbour’s start to complain, not that I’d give a damn 😏

Captured by my wife 08:30 17th June

What is interesting this year is that no two days seem to be the same with regards to prospecting birds, it seems to be all or nothing. A day after the clip above and I have just a couple of birds checking out the eaves.

20th June 2022

Well I can certainly say having more pairs of Swift brings with it more stress although I would be totally unaware if it wasn’t for my cameras so all my own doing πŸ˜‚

Both pairs in boxes 17 and 22 finished laying their second eggs on the 16th June and both subsequently knocked out an egg. Box 17 on the night of the 16th and box 22 on the morning of the 17th.

I was at work on both occasions and wasn’t planning on interfering with proceedings until I noticed on the camera what looked like it was trying to incubate the dislodged egg that it had knocked out 13 hours ago .

I was at home now and had a dilemma, do I leave it and hope it returns to the egg in the nest or take the front off and replace the egg. My main concerns were if it was to continue going between the two eggs then the remaining egg in the nest could suffer as a result,Β  plus I’d have to open up the box with the bird still inside and I wasn’t totally sure on its reaction.

After a bit of humming and aahhing I decided to get the ladder out, my previous experiences have led me to believe they’re quite a tolerant bird and I felt the positives outweighed the negatives.

The whole thing took me less than thirty seconds and if you look at the timestamp on the video after the Swift flew off it was less than two minutes before it returned so it shows it didn’t impact it too much. Since then, they’ve both continued to incubate with no issues so far.

All chicks have now hatched in boxes 3 and 20a and most recently 15 and 24, with birds in the latter boxes still spending more time in the nest with the young birds. Box 20a are frequently leaving the young alone now to forage and it’s already clear the age difference between the first and last to hatch.

First chick in box 15
Box 20a feeding 3 chicks

Other news, I had two birds in and out of box 21 on the 15th and 16th June that evicted egg laying sparrows however they’ve not roosted or returned since. I’ve also had a single bird coming and going on my front aspect in box five on the 17th and 18th and plenty of birds banging boxes on most fair weather days now.

Update 14th June

Brief update, my birds in box 20 have displaced their second clutch after incubating for about two days with no issues, they then managed to knock one egg out at night, then the following day the second egg was out. Footage on the camera showed  them quite lively at the time of displacement and I’m not hopeful of them trying again this year.

Better news for my pair that originally began their journey in box 18 who also displaced their first clutch and then relocated in box 17. They have since laid another egg today (14th June) so hopefully they’ll be more successful this time around.

On to box 22 that first arrived on the 31st of May and they have now laid their first egg too. Their nest hasn’t had a great deal of effort put into it so time will tell if this stands the test of time.

Finally I have a new bird that’s been coming and going in box 21 today much to the annoyance of the Sparrows that had nested and laid eggs already. Lots of nesting material in there that makes viewing a bit crap but hopefully it has a mate with it in tow that will show up soon.

Pair from box 21a