Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The blue tit chicks that have been reared inside the park toilet building, appeared to be on the verge of leaving the nest on Tuesday 26th. They have spent the first 2 weeks of their life in the warm and secure store room surrounded by old rags and the whiff in the air of bleach and disinfectant. No flies on this family then!
The picture below shows the inside of the store room with the nest hidden on top of the cream coloured bowl. Entry for the parents has been through a small hole in the exterior timber cladding.

The blue tits first got this site ready for the nest about 2 months ago and the scalding calls have been a frequent sound whenever I've had to enter the store room which is often several times a day. The adults have also had to contend with the daily flow of human visitors into the building every day, leading to more scalding calls from them.

I've allowed the tits to raise their family with as little disturbance as possible over the last fortnight. The noises from the chicks have been getting louder in recent days and the sight of a nearly fledged chick on the store-room floor indicated that the youngsters are ready to leave. I don't know how many chicks hatched out or have fledged, although the first photo above shows at least 3 young nearly ready for the big bad world outside!

After lots of rain in the morning, the day ended with clear blue skies and the tide was well out in the early evening as shown in the picture above. There weren't many birds on the mud except for a scattering of gulls and oystercatchers.
On the southernmost edge of the mudflats a group of 30 brent geese gathered, which seemed an unusual place for them, but maybe it was just a brief staging post. A short while later a small group of them were seen heading east past Colne Point out of the estuary and probably on their way back to the continent. Most brent flocks left for their breeding grounds in Siberia two months ago.

Making the return journey onto the Island this evening from the east were a couple of hundred swifts. There was a continuous flow of them crossing the river Colne, flying over the mudflats, then passing over the country park as they headed west in small groups.

Along the park cliff there were at least ten holes recently excavated by the sand martins. Many of the birds were flying over the nearby grazing fields and the park pond, along with several swallows.

The pair of mute swans were escorting their lone cygnet along the park dyke. The cygnet is about a week old and is the sole survivor of the brood which apparently only had one other sibling hatch out but has since been lost.

Also in the dyke were a pair of tufted duck, little grebes, coots and a pair of singing reed warblers. Two male reed buntings were seen along the the top of the seawall earlier in the day. In the pools on the grazing fields, there are still 11 lapwing chicks, with no apparent losses and still 2 other birds still incubating. A pair of redshank, pair of gadwall and 30 mallard also present.

At the park pond 3 male pochard and a female were noted along with 2 pairs of tufted ducks. There seems to be 3 pairs of coots with youngsters in various corners of the pond. No sign of the nice male fox that trotted round the nearside of the pond in the middle of yesterday morning.
Just before the sun set, there was a nice view of a barn owl hunting the grass field behind the pond and then flying back to Bromans Farm with a tiny mammal in its talons.

On the park a kestrel sat by the car park at dusk being mobbed by a pied wagtail, the male sparrowhawk returned to the clifftop trees for the night and the nightingale sang briefly by the park entrance. Two song thrushes were also singing loudly at the end of the day, one by the entrance and the other by the pond. During the day a pair of Mediterranean gulls flew over the car park calling. Only a couple of painted ladies were seen during the day.

Yesterday an adder was seen basking in its usual spot in the park.


Rambling Rob said...

Hi Dougal,

Congrats on the Blue Tit family - nice one.

I am curious about your local breakwaters seen stretching out across the mud in several of your photos. Very different from the usual sort. Is there a local name for them? Are they made of a particular wood? I like 'em, anyway.

Dougal Urquhart said...

These breakwaters are known as polders and work on the same rough principle as the Dutch polders of encouraging the build-up of sediment. Sadly the waves have ripped out all the intertwined brushwood on these park polders and despite some repair works, the scheme was abandoned about 15 years ago.

Rambling Rob said...

Thanks Dougal,
Even if they are not adding the desired sediment they certainly add interest,