On a brief walk round the farm this morning 8 male Pied Flycatchers were located. This is a very high number for such a small site but actually rather low compared with a detailed survey in 2012 which found 16 territories. The reason for the apparent decline is hopefully due to the timing of the visit, which is quite late. Most of the males seen had finished singing and were now busy feeding young and consequently their behaviour is much more secretive than a month ago. Of course, this is a threatened species in long term national decline and factors beyond our control on their wintering grounds in West Africa could be affecting our birds too.
The provision of adequate nest boxes at Denmark Farm is one way of supporting them and there will be a continuing need to replace existing, damaged boxes in the coming years. Blue Tits usually compete with Pied Flycatchers for boxes. However, a recent survey by Aline Denton (Shared Earth Trust trustee) found 13 Blue Tit nests in the 44 Dormice boxes on the farm. Perhaps the fact that the Blue Tits have these alternative nest sites available has allowed Pied Flycatcher numbers to remain so high here for so long.
Among the other birds noted were; Blackcap; Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, House Martin, Treecreeper, Long-tailed Tit, Redpoll , Bullfinch and Spotted Flycatcher. To prevent the latter nesting in the yurt flue like last year we have covered the flue with wire mesh and erected three open boxes nearby and happily a nest (as yet without eggs) was found in one of these this morning.
Ian Morris (guest blogger)
Our new Sponsor a Bird Box project has already provided 10 additional bird nest boxes, including one owl box, for this breeding season at Denmark Farm. If you would like to sponsor a bird box or make a donation to our work to look after wildlife we would be very grateful to hear from you.