Big Schools’ Birdwatch

This year we took part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch on 1st February. Many enthusiastic children helped me complete our list for the survey which involved recording the maximum number of each species seen at any one time during one hour. We managed to spot 15 different species. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Blackbird 3 Robin 1
Blue tit 2 Rook 2
Chaffinch 8 Starling 1
Dunnock 1 Woodpigeon 2
Goldfinch 5 Bullfinch 3
Great tit 3 Tree sparrow 3
Greenfinch 1 Reed bunting 1
Long tailed tit 5

Did anyone take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch at home?

Keeping out of the cold in our colour birdcam box

If you check out our colour birdcam box after dark, you might be lucky to see our night time roosting bird all fluffed up to keep warm. Leave a comment if you think you know what type of bird it is, or if you discover what time it comes in to the box at night or leaves in the morning.

We have also spotted birds visiting the box during the day, such as the Great Tit pictured below.

Winter Visitors

Keep an eye out for migrating birds. At this time of year, many of our Summer visitors have left or are leaving for the warmer climates of Africa and the Mediterranean. Winter visitors may start to arrive from colder regions such as Scandinavia and northern Europe. Other migrants may be simply passing through. Numbers of  some of our more common birds, such as blue tits or black birds, may be boosted by visitors from other countries. I wonder if they speak  the same bird language! Check out the RSPB website for more information on migration.

Two birds to look out for this winter are Waxwings and Redwings. Both these birds love our hedgerow and garden berries and may also be spotted eating yew berries in churchyards.

If you take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of January, let us know how you got on.

Time for a clean out!

Both our nest boxes have been cleaned out ready for the next nesting season. If you have nest boxes at home, now is a good time to clear out any old nests (it is only legal to do this between 1 August and 31 Jaunuary).  The RSPB website has some advice on how to do this.

We will upload pictures from the boxes every now and then to check whether we have any night time winter visitors. Temple Normanton Primary School have a roosting blue tit in theirs.

School Wildlife 2010

We are very lucky at Stretton Handley to have a school situated in such beautiful surroundings. The school grounds provide a number of different habitats for wildlife including a pond, a ‘wild’ area and deciduous and non-deciduous trees and hedgerows.

Please use this post to report any interesting wildlife you spot around school. If you can, take a photograph so you can share what you have seen. Class 1 had a rabbit visit their play area last term and we also had a rather large wasp nest in one of the sheds.

Fledged at Last!

House Sparrow chicks usually fledge within 11-16 days of hatching. Not ours though, they fledged this morning after 18 days! They must have found the box very comfortable. The first chick fledged  at 7.37 am leaving the smaller chick alone in the box but still being fed occasionally by the female. After changing its mind a few times, the second chick finally picked up courage to leave the box at 9.14 am.

We shall have to watch out for the fledglings next week and keep the bird feeders topped up.  The chicks’ diet will now change from being fed mainly insects to having seed as their main food. According to the RSPB website,
“They are unable to feed themselves for a week after leaving the nest and are cared for by their parents for a fortnight. Post-fledging care is normally left to the male; the hen prepares for the next brood. She starts to lay about a week after the previous brood fledged.”
We will have to wait and see what happens, as we haven’t seen the male bird since the chicks hatched.

We Have Chicks!

The House Sparrow chicks started hatching sometime after lunchtime today. By mid afternoon three of the chicks had hatched and the female could be seen feeding the tiny young ones and also brooding them to keep them warm. Keep watching to see if any more hatch.

Last time we had sparrows nesting, the chicks did not survive, let’s hope this brood are more successful. With a bit of luck, we might see the chicks fledge by the end of term.

The House Sparrows are Egg-specting!

The House Sparrows have now converted the Great Tits’ nest into a typical sparrow’s nest (MESSY) and have wasted no time in laying five eggs of their own. The fifth egg was laid on 6th May and since then, both the adults have taken it in turns to incubate the eggs.

Can you tell the difference between the male and female House Sparrow? When do you think the eggs might hatch?

Destruction – a new chapter starts?

At the beginning of this week, the female Great Tit started to lay eggs. With nest building completed and incubation yet to start, the eggs were still being left unattended for long periods during the day ( covered with nesting material). Yesterday, Class 1 reported seeing a sparrow in the B&W birdcam box and it seemed to be paying far too much attention to the area where the eggs were buried. The children then noticed that one of the eggs appeared to be cracked. This morning two sparrows were seen destroying and removing the rest of the eggs. They also brought in some dried grass and feathers.

Will the sparrows now make the box theirs? How do you feel about what the sparrows did? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on this post.

Other creatures use nest boxes too!

In this country, other creatures, such as squirrels, dormice and bats sometimes use nest boxes, particularly for hibernating in over the winter.

Australian Sugar Glider in a Nest Box

I was recently sent this picture of a Sugar Glider by my Uncle (Ranger Geoff) who lives in Australia. Ranger Geoff put up a number of nest boxes in the trees around his home four years a go but hasn’t found anything in them until now.

Class 2 are very curious and want to find out more about this creature. They are really excited that Ranger Geoff has agreed to answer their questions on this blog.

Update: Ranger Geoff has emailed us a recording of a Sugar Glider calling from the top of a tree just up from his house and also some pictures showing Sugar Glider habitat.

A Sugar Glider Calling

Good Sugar Glider Habitat

Good Sugar Glider Habitat

This is bush in the Warby Range State Park (Victoria, Australia). The trees are Blakelys Red Gums. Notice all the hollows in the trees, just right for Sugar Gliders and many other small animals.





The bush around Ranger Geoff's house

The bush around Ranger Geoff’s house

This is some of the bush around Ranger Geoff’s house. Can you spot Ranger Geoff with a hose blacking out a burning tree after a fire was lit to burn the bush.

Viewers’ Diary – April 2010

April is the month when we usually see birds starting to nest in our nest boxes. Our Infant box (B&W birdcam) already has a few strands of grass it and we have had visits from Great Tits and Blue Tits. Help us record what you see happening in our boxes during April by leaving your comments on this post.

Egg-cellent News from Derby Cathedral!

Every year, Peregrine Falcons nest on top of Derby Cathedral. Three web cameras set up on the Cathedral, enable tens of thousands of people to monitor their progress, day and night and blog enables people to record their observations.

This morning, the female laid her first egg, a bit earlier than expected from previous years. Eggs will now be laid every two days until the clutch is complete.

2nd egg was laid around 2pm on Friday 26th March
3rd egg was laid Sunday evening (28th March)
4th egg was laid early Wednesday morning (31st March)

1st and 2nd chicks hatched 1st May
3rd and 4th chicks hatched 2nd May

Birds Out and About – 2010

What birds have you seen  in your garden and what were they doing? Do you have any nest boxes or do you encourage birds into the garden by feeding them? What’s their favourite food?

Perhaps you’ve seen some birds during breaktime or lunchtime in school or spotted some while out for a walk.

Please share your observations by leaving your comments here.

Viewers’ Diary – March 2010

This time last year we had had a lot more interest in our nest boxes, perhaps the colder weather is delaying things a bit. Both birdcams are now online most the time, so keep your eyes peeled and let us know if you spot any activity in either of the boxes. Hopefully we will start to see birds nesting by the end of the month.

Check out some of the other school boxes on the Derbyshire Schools Birdcam Project,  Rosliston Primary School has a sparrow roosting in their box at night and it might even have started building a nest! Wessington Primary School has had a blue tit roosting in their box throughout the winter, I bet they are hoping it will start to build a nest soon.