I must admit, I always regarded nest-finding as a bit of a 'dark art' and perhaps this is what actually appealed to me in the first place. However; after mastering some useful field techniques, taking the time to watch the birds from a distance and getting key pointers on their behaviour, it all started to make a bit more sense.
Upon returning home I have spent the past week or so sharpening my new found skills around Cropwell and have been pleased to locate (and ring chicks at) a number of nests; including a rather open Goldfinch nest in a young sapling, a Blackbird nest in my garden and a Linnet nest which I found when tapping along a hedgerow and flushing the female.
Fellow ringer, nest finder and Cropweller Ian Kirton was kind enough to spend some quality time explaining how to study Skylark and Yellowhammer, pointing out key clues that helped us to identify birds visiting the nests with food and leaving with faecal sacks. He then helped to guide me to the spot where the birds were and joined me for a more thorough search.
After talking to the BTO team and Ian, it is becoming clear that 2012 is turning out to be a rather odd year, with weather conditions pushing Whitethroat arrival and breeding back by a good number of weeks. Likewise, birds that have started breeding appear to be at various stages; some Skylarks for example, are brooding large chicks, others incubating eggs and others only just building nests!
Jim and I noticed that perhaps Barn Owls are a bit 'all over the place' with their breeding this year too. Let's hope things warm up a little over the coming weeks and increase food abundance for all of our young birds.
Goldfinch, 6 May
Willow Warbler, 21 May
Yellowhammer, 20 May
two Skylark nests, 20 May