Tuesday, 7 June 2011



About five or six days ago one of the nest box parent Blue Tits disappeared, probably predated. This left one parent, possibly the female, although we're not sure, trying desperately to feed five growing chicks. By the weekend she was looking a bit worse for wear, then on sunday the rain came, with a vengeance. We looked in on her and the chicks on sunday evening and things were fine, although she was very wet and bedraggled. At 07.30 on monday morning I checked on them again but noticed straight away that the chicks were pretty stressed and there was no sign of the parent, she hadn't returned from wherever she had been roosting. We had noticed that the chicks had been left alone for the last few nights, with the parent bird returning at first light to resume feeding, so maybe that means that it was the male who was left holding the babies, so to speak. Anyway, it was clear that the chicks hadn't been fed since about 19.30 the previous night.

By 10.00am there was still no sign of the parent and the youngsters were calling pitifully and poking their heads out of the box looking around desperately for the adult bird. It was awful, doing nothing wasn't an option,but what could we do with five near to fledging chicks? After a lot of phone calls Carol managed to find a wildlife rescue centre in East Sussex who said they could help, but we had to get them there asap because they had now been unfed for much too long. The ensuing ten minutes were a nightmare for us and the birds. It was absolutely pouring with rain as we tried to get the tiny bundles of feathers out of the nest box and into a portable container, during which time three of them managed to escape and tried to hide in the garden. It was panic stations as we tried desperately to catch them and get them into the dry, but we managed it and we were soon on our way, although by now it was us who were soaking wet and stressed out. It took an hour to get there and we were scared stiff they weren't going to make it. But they did, all five were soon waiting to be fed and then put with the other fifty or so Blue Tit chicks at this super rescue centre, what a relief! Take a look at www.follywcp.org.uk and you'll see what I mean. My inclination during all this was that I would never use the camera box again, you do get very attached, but i've changed my mind. If there was no camera we might not have realised what had happened, which doesn't bear thinking about.

I was glad to get out today, albeit only for a couple of hours really. I went down to the lakes, but for a change I didn't concentrate on the birds too much. Which is just as well because it has gone a bit quiet it seemed to me. The Common Tern was still on Brooklands lake and the Cuckoo was still calling occasionally, but apart from a couple of sightings of a Hobby hunting near Abbey Mead there wasn't too much going on. No sign again of the Turtle Dove and with just a couple of half hearted snatches of Nightingale song, it had quite a different feel to it from recent visits. So I kept my eyes down and looked into the world of some smaller beasts and butterflies.

I know I had a picture of a Comma butterfly on my last post, but i've put another one up today for two reasons. Firstly, this individual was just so bright and brand spanking new looking. And secondly because Greenie, of Greenie in the wild fame, kindly pointed out that the last one's underwings were golden instead of the usual dark colour and that this was of the form Hutchinsoni. I never knew that, so i've posted today's for a comparison.

Apart from a Speckled Wood and some unidentified whites, the Red Admiral below was the only other butterfly species seen.

I found the unusual looking chap below feeding in a sunny glade near Abbey Mead. I've never seen one before but I think it's called Strangalia Maculata, which is a longhorn beetle. It doesn't seem to have a common name unfortunately.

You'll recognise this common species below I think. It's a Soldier Beetle, aka the bonking beetle because it's often seen propagating it's species on the top of flower heads. Whatever turns you on I guess.

I tried very hard to get a picture of a Four Spotted Chaser busily ovipositing in Brooklands lake but it was too quick for me and I had to settle for the Black-tailed Skimmer below. Immature male I think.

Just as I was about to move on I noticed this newly emerged damselfly on the edge of the fishermen's platform.

I've no idea what species it is at this stage. If anybody knows I'd be pleased to hear from them.

Very close by was this exuviae, below, possibly the one that the damselfly had just emerged from.

Last in my line up today is the hoverfly below. It's a great looking species and it's name is Volucella Pellucens, or more commonly Pellucid Fly. It blends in very well with the bees, which it's probably often mistaken for.


ShySongbird said...

Oh goodness! What a drama you had with the Blue Tits Phil. I know it sounds ridiculous but that is exactly why I don't even put up nest boxes. I would get far too involved and upset if something went wrong. I do get birds nesting in the garden but am never quite sure exactly where. However, as you said, at least you were in a position to do something. Well done you!

I have just come from Greenie's blog and he has also posted a photo of a Strangalia Maculata! I'm not sure I have ever seen one before and now I've seen two in as many minutes :)

Lovely photos again, the Comma is a beauty and that Hoverfly is rather smart too.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Well done rescuing the Blue Tits .
We know exactly what you mean , Carol is like a mother hen when the young are about to fledge in our garden , shooing off any likely predators .
I'd say impossible to ID the just emerged damselfly .
Nice shot of the Hedge Cranesbill .

Rob said...

Hi Phil, Your blog shows me how much I'm not seeing!
Heroic deed with the blue tits.
Didn't know there was a different type of comma; it ought to be marked with a semi-colon.