Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentines Birdboxes, Little Owls, and Rainbow Walks

After being cooped up in the office all week, it was great to spend some quality time outdoors this weekend!

Saturday was of course Valentines Day - a slightly controversial day for some, but I think most would agree it's a good excuse for some great food and exchanging little gifts with loved ones. The gift for me this year, was a fine, hand crafted Robin nestbox. Perfect, also, to celebrate the first day of BTOs National Nestbox Week - this week (14th Feb - 21st Feb) is apparently the best time to put up a new nestbox to help our garden birds find the perfect home ready for the breeding season. 

The Nestbox

Inspired by a sketch created by the North Wales Wildlife Trust and Skyes Cottages on Project Wildthings website, we placed our nestbox below 2m high on a silver birch monolith in our wildlife patch.

Birdbox going up
Hopefully it will attract some attention and I can write about its success here soon! 

Whilst reading about National Nestbox Week I spotted another BTO initiative called the Nestbox Challenge; a monitoring programme encouraging us to record any sightings of breeding birds in our gardens (nestbox or not). I'm always looking for an excuse to record things so with any luck I will be taking part this year. 

Saturday afternoon was spent wandering around Manor Farm with my collie Fleur. I have been here bird ringing a few times, but never had the chance to actually explore the area. We found some lovely walks encompassing everything from arable fields to woodlands, an estuary to a play park.

Fleur and a Rainbow

After the walk I met up with my boyfriend Rob and his bird ringing trainer Trev. They had spent the afternoon putting up mist nets around Manor Farm ready for an early morning ringing session the next day. Although they only caught four birds that afternoon (house sparrow, robin and 2 dunnock) we were all treated to the sight and sounds of at least four Little owls coming out of roost as dusk set in. There were even two snuggled up on a branch together - a beautiful sight.

Sunday morning came around very quickly and we soon found ourselves back at Manor Farm keeping an eye on 6 mist nets set up around the farmyard and neighbouring fields. We were aiming for House sparrows and Redwings. Unfortunately no Redwings this time but we did catch a fair few sparrows, blue tits, dunnocks and robins. Slightly more unusual were a wood pigeon and a song thrush.

Ringing a Blue Tit
I had also put the moth trap out the night before. Although the trap itself didn't produce much, I did spot a lovely Oak Beauty on the wall nearby.

Oak Beauty - caught 14/02/2015

Oh and how could I forget the great Valentines food?!! Delicious fillet steak, home cut chips, field mushroom and tomato, followed by homemade melt in the middle chocolate pudding and vanilla ice cream. :)