Friday 29 July 2011

A Swift's last 3 hours in the nest

Contributed by Dick

The first Swift fledged early in the morning of 28th July. So, I left the camera running for 3 hours in the hope of capturing the 2nd chick leaving. This is the result showing the last feed by the parent Swift with geolocator, a cameo appearance by a flatfly Crataerina pallida, the Swift's last exercises, and finally leaving. We were in the garden outside having lunch, and witnessed its first flight - magic!

Monday 25 July 2011

Swift behaviour with geolocator

Contributed by Dick

Swifts are declining, and one of the reasons could be something happening on their migration or in winter quarters on top of the loss of nest-sites. The advent of light-sensitive geolocators has provided great potential to fill in the gaps of where they go, and where they linger when they leave our shores.

There is bound to be apprehension at fitting anything to a small bird, particularly a Swift with its extreme fitness requirements, however, return rates of birds in previous years are no worse than one would expect from normal mortality, especially for birds caught leaving the nest, rather than birds caught on the nest.

On 21st July, one Swift was caught leaving my camera box, and fitted with a geolocator by Chris Hewson and Phil Atkinson from the BTO. That night, and since, the bird returned to the nest-box. Here is some video:

Friday 8 July 2011

Nest site visit frequency - preliminary results

Contributed by Dick

Most days this summer, I have a CCTV camera, with motion detection software, watching 5 occupied boxes, running from 4 in the morning until 10 at night (British Summer Time = GMT+1). I have now analysed some of the data to see how number of visits varies during each hour of the day and with date. I am posting this now, before all of the data is in, as it might be useful for people surveying colonies for occupied nest-sites [You can click on the charts to make them larger]:

If the results from my nest-boxes are typical, then it would seem that the periods 0700-0800, 1100-1400, 1700-1800 and after 1900 are the most productive times for birds seen entering a nest site. The hour between 1800 and 1900 is particularly slow.

The average visits per day per nest-box from this data set is 13 (min 8, max 22)

Sunday 3 July 2011

School Project in Israel

We asked Amnonn Hahn if he could tell us about one of his projects at the Gavrieli Harkamel School in Tel Aviv:

This is an example of spotting an opportunity in an otherwise unlikely location for Swift nest-boxes.

It also shows what can be done in a hot climate, where defending the nest-boxes from the sun can be a real challenge.