L.O.S. Young Birders' Club Visit to St. George's Primary School

The L.O.S. Young Birders' Club team had an absolutely fabulous morning today at St. George's Primary School in Tyldesley. The Year 3 class we visited were really keen and interested in our presentation and their behaviour was impeccable - all credit must go to the school and class teacher.

We told the pupils about different types of birds and how they are suited to the habitats in which they live. We also showed them how to make a bird ID dial and the pupils used it to do two quizzes about garden and woodland birds. The pupils were entralled by the videos we showed of a Barn Owl and Kestrel hunting in different ways and the mating dance of the Great Crested Grebes. What a great school, we can't wait to go back.

GeekTeacher's NestCam Live 2015

This post will be a daily blog about our nesting Blue Tits with a live streaming video feed from a camera in the nestbox.  The video changes to monochrome when it gets dark as it's using an infrared sensor.  I've also started writing a page on how to stream live video from a nestbox here.



FOR DAILY UPDATES PLEASE CHECK THE DIARY BELOW

This is a live video stream with sound from my 2015 NestCam in Tyldesley where a Blue Tit started visiting regularly a couple of weeks ago  Sorry about the adverts, I can't remove them with this free Ustream video streaming service. Click the play button to view and rest assured that after the first advert it really is LIVE. If you leave the video running with the sound on, you can be alerted to when the bird returns to the nest without having to keep looking.

Please remember that it is pitch black in the box at night with no visible light and so the camera switches to infrared monochrome mode.  You wouldn't be able to see anything at all if you looked in the box. If for any reason the camera is offline, some recorded video will usually be displayed. On desktop computers it will say either  LIVE  or   OFF AIR  in the bottom right corner of the video to let you know what you are seeing.

After clicking the play button in the middle of the video, the live stream will start. Please be patient as it takes a few moments to start up and, because I'm using a free service from Ustream, there will be an advert at the start and some that pop up from time to time. They're usually not too obtrusive and you can close them down.  Don't forget to turn the sound on if you want to hear it.  The camera reverts to monochrome at night and when the light in the nestbox is poor.  When the sun comes out the video is in colour albeit a little washed out, but the quality depends on the light and bandwidth available from Ustream.

The Story So Far ...

April 2015
The female Blue Tit started by pecking the bottom of the box for five or six days before slowly bringing in nesting material.  She now looks like she's starting to build a nest and so at the moment there will be long periods with no activity as the bird feeds and brings in new material. Hopefully we'll soon have a complete nest and some eggs.

14/04/15 - Tonight was the first time she roosted overnight in the box.

15/04/15 - More nest material was brought in today and another overnight roost.

16/04/15 - The nest is starting to take shape now, but the bird is still pecking the floor and is away for long periods of time. She came in to roost overnight at 7:49pm.

17/04/15 - Some feathers have been brought in for the nest today. She  was quite active nest building in the morning and came into roost at around 8:00pm.

18/04/15 - Looks like an egg might have been laid this morning :) Does seem a bit early as they normally lay in May. She came in to roost around 8:00pm and plucked some of her own feathers to line the nest.

19/04/15 - I'm pretty sure we haven't got any eggs yet, it must have been a feather that looked like an egg yesterday.  The bird has been out for most of the day but has just come in to roost at 7:46pm.  She's still pecking away at the floor and it looks like it might lay the eggs straight on to the wood.  Perhaps she is making a depression to stop them from rolling around?

20/04/15 - I heard the male Blue Tit calling to the female inside the box outside my window at around 5:30am this morning, and when I got up to look at the NestCam she had gone. This probably happens every morning but I'm not usually awake at that time! The bird has come in early to roost tonight at just 7:10pm.

21/04/15 - The bird had left by 6:30am when I checked the camera and I only saw it return once briefly at around 11:25am before going out to work. She came in to roost around 7:05pm tonight and seems to be getting a bit earlier each night.

22/04/15 - To my surprise this afternoon I discovered that our little Blue Tit has laid at least four eggs over the last few days. They had been covered up by feathers whilst the bird was out feeding and so couldn't be seen. She came back in briefly a couple of times this afternoon at around 4:00pm to rearrange the bedding, and that's when I saw them.

23/04/15 - The female bird has been popping in and out a lot today (I've set up a screen at work so that I can see it!). At around 3:00pm she came and stayed for a quite a while. Then, when she left 5 eggs were revealed. She returned early to roost tonight at around 6:30pm.

24/04/15 - 6 eggs (maybe 7) clearly in view at 6:00am this morning. She brought in more nesting material at 7:45am this morning.

25/04/15 - She's been sitting on the eggs quite a lot this morning, so she's probably started to incubate them. She's left at around 8:00am and revealed that we now have 8 eggs! Click the image to enlarge this screenshot.

26/04/15 - We may have 9 eggs now but I can't be sure as she's either incubating them or covering them with feathers when she's out of the box.

27/04/15 - Yey, we have definitely got 9 eggs in our nestbox as can be seen in this photo. Click the image to enlarge it. She left the box at around 12:20pm and revealed the little beauties - that's probably it for now, time to get them incubated. For the first time I also saw the male bird in the box feeding the female.

28/04/14 - Really interesting Blue Tit behaviour in my nestbox this morning at around 6:30am. The female was sitting on the 9 eggs and she started making an unusual noise. Turn your computer sound and the video sound on to hear it.

video

At first I thought it was some radio interference but it later became clear that she was calling to the male who was perched outside. He was calling too and soon he came into the nestbox with food and fed the female. This happened three or four times during the next half hour and I managed to get a bit of it on video with sound. The quality is not great (there's a lot of hum) so you might want to turn it up a bit - you can sometimes hear the male calling form outside too. I've never heard this before - have you?

29/04/15 - Not much to report today, 9 eggs and basically the same behaviour as yesterday.

30/04/15 - Not much to report again today, 9 eggs and the same behaviour as yesterday.

Check the BTO information on Blue Tit nests here: www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nbc/blue-tit-blog

Please come back regularly to see how things are progressing - it will be live 24/7 with an infrared camera at night and I'll keep you updated on my blog and the L.O.S. Facebook Group Page here:


It would be great to read some of your comments below too.

'Florida, A Winter Wonderland' by Dennis Atherton


Our next presentation in the Derby Room at Leigh Library is 'Florida, A Winter Wonderland' by long-serving L.O.S. member Dennis Atherton.

Come and see Dennis' superb photos from his travels in the U.S. of A. and why not bring a friend? Everyone is welcome and the doors open at 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start on Friday 6th March.

And who knows, you might even win a prize in our raffle!

'A Shot at Wildlife Images 2012' by Pauline and Ian Greenhalgh

Our Derby Room meeting last night attracted 60 people, the visiting speakers Pauline and Ian Greenhalgh gave their account of the year 2012 as seen through the eye and lens of photographers. Having seen their work on other occasions we had high expectations of the event, and indeed it proved to be a real treat.


Photography and presentation of this high standard are a gift to only a few, Pauline and Ian's knowledge of wildlife is second to none. I have been privileged to be out in the field with them and see what time and effort is put into obtaining the images - it is truly amazing.

Something that impressed me from day one is that they always put the subjects welfare first before taking those images. Thank you to P & I for a superb evening's entertainment and shared knowledge and thanks also to the members and friends who gave their support.

L.O.S. Fieldtrip to Martin Mere WWT and Lunt Meadows – 7th December 2014

This wasn’t the wettest trip we have had and it wasn’t the coldest or the most windy but it was certainly trying it’s best to be because all day we had frequent showers, quite often with hail plus an icy wind. The wind was blowing the rain and hail sideways, luckily we were often in a hide when it was at its hardest but we had to leave the viewing slot windows closed as the wind was blowing the rain into the hides and wetting the seats.


Just outside the visitors' centre was a large pool of water which had on it a good selection of our beautiful wildfowl, although I think these were some of the captive birds it did give us the chance to appreciate just how beautiful they are close up. You could clearly see the pale green patches on the back of the heads of some male Eiders and compare these with the duller females; there were Goldeneye, Pintail, Wigeon and a few Bewick and Whooper Swans. At odd times, they would swim together so we could compare the size of the slightly smaller Bewick and the smaller patch of yellow on its black beak.

A little further away is the larger area of water known as “The Mere” where you get more of the wild birds and here we saw a number of Whooper Swans, groups of Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and Pink-footed Geese, a lot of Shelduck plus Pochard, Pintail and Wigeon. A good number of Lapwings were seen but most of the other waders were more of a telescope job to see, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and the fify Ruff that Pekka counted. Also through his scope he spotted Stonechat and earlier another bird watcher let some of us have a look through his scope at a Buzzard perched on a fence stump.


Not long after a Kestrel was seen hovering in the distance, a Great Black-backed Gull was on a small island and we spotted three Herons just standing in the reeds on some smaller patches of water over to one side. Looking out from a different side of the hide we saw Magpies on a few occasions coming down to feed on a dead rabbit in the grass.

As we walked round to the different hides various smaller birds were seen such as Redwing, Tree Sparrows, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting and everyone’s Christmas favourite, the Robin.

It was time to move onto our second place of call over at Lunt Meadows, where in contrast to last year, we didn’t see anything unusual. On the areas of water we saw two Little Egrets and with the Black-headed Gulls were a few Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Coot and a Cormorant was seen and as we were standing watching we had Linnet, Robin, Wren and a Sparrowhawk flew past.

Even in the middle of all this bad weather I still found some White Dead Nettle in flower in contrast to the bright red Rose-hips on some Wild Rose bushes. We walked on a little further and as we stood on a bridge over a river looking out over some fields once again the scopes came in handy to check a large group of birds on the ground. These were mostly Rooks plus some Crows and Jackdaws with a group of Starlings near them.

After this, we decided to call it a day and head for home where we could all thaw out. Thanks to Al for the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.
Jeff Hurst