Nest Boxes – Update 1st November

On Friday a group of 5 volunteers met at Blaby for the annual clean out, repair and recording of the various SLB nest boxes. First stop was All Saints Churchyard where there was evidence that 3 of the 4 nest box holes had been used and in one box there was a clutch of 6 Great Tit eggs which had been abandoned, with another nest built on top which appeared to have been successful.

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The group then moved on to Rectory Farm, Great Easton, where we have about 30 assorted nest boxes. Highlights this year were that 10 boxes had been used by Tree Sparrows – all appear to have been successful. One adult bird was found dead on a nest (see photo), it had probably died whilst using the box to roost. One box was used by a Blue Tit and 2 others by Great Tits but the open-fronted boxes still continue to be ignored.

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The Little Owl box, kindly made by Brian Pepall, which was erected last year had been used as we found 1 unhatched egg inside. However, after thorough cleaning the egg appears not to be that of an Owl as the shape, size and appearance tends to suggest a Dove species rather than Owl.

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Some of the boxes were showing signs of rotting, so the 6 boxes that Brian had made over the winter were put up to replace them. We feel this has been the most successful year to date.

Photos courtesy of Derek Walker.

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Kent Weekend – 17th-19th May 2019

Day 1
Twenty-four SLB members went to Kent for this years “weekend away” by coach and our first stop was Elmley Marsh National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. This is an extensive area of freshwater grazing marsh and no sooner had we turned on to the access track we were seeing abundant water birds, Lapwing and Marsh Harriers. A mile or so further on was the car park where we were met by a volunteer warden who gave us an introduction to the site and the work there. The weather was overcast and a little cool and the site flat so walking was pleasant. This was made even more so by our first good sighting, a singing Corn Bunting on a nearby fence post that
continued to perform so all the group had fine views. Yellow Wagtail were soon added as well as numerous Marsh Harriers. It was good to see so many breeding Lapwing and Avocet as well as Redshank, Little Egret and plenty of duck. The first hide was another mile further on and a welcome resting stop for lunch but not before some of the group had ventured a little further to see distant Cattle Egrets – a new species for SLB. Other notables were a Ringed Plover, Hobby, Curlew and a Cuckoo back at the car park. Total of 58 species on the day.

Day 2
Weather was quite warm if a little overcast as we started our short journey to
Dungeness stopping first at the lighthouse. We headed towards the sea and had views of Gannet and Sandwich Tern flying by and on returning to the coach we had notable fine views of Stonechat and Linnet. Next stop was RSPB Dungeness where we took the 2 mile main trail. Highlights of our walk included a couple of Hobbies hawking overhead, hearing a booming Bittern and we also had views of both male and female Bearded Reedlings flying over the reeds, all whilst listening to a distant Cuckoo.
There was also a good selection of waders including Greenshank, Turnstone, Dunlin,
Common Sandpiper, and both Ringed and Grey Plover. Notable others were Pintail and Whimbrel. Last stop was the nearby Hanson Trail where most of the group were fortunate to see a Bittern flying over. Total of 79 species for the day.

Day 3
Another new site for the club today when we visited Sevenoaks Wildlife Trust reserve Kent  We were kindly given a two hour guided tour by the warden of 11 years Susanna who showed us the main areas and hides and gave us a good history and background of the reserve. It had been a working sand & gravel quarry but was now a SSSI site. As we walked through the trees warblers were very evident with Garden Warbler and Blackcap competing in the song stakes with Chiffchaff and Common
Whitethroat also heard.

A pair of Little Ringed Plover were on one of the many man made scrapes and it was hoped they would breed successfully this year after a failure last year. In the afternoon we were left to explore the reserve ourselves and so we took in the west lake circular route and several hides we had missed in the morning. Total of 52 species for the day bringing the total for the weekend after the journey home birds were added in to 98.

March Quiz Night

A big thank you to Brian Clarke for organising and presenting the SLB Bird Quiz for March’s indoor meeting. Brian had booked a speaker for the March slot but they had pulled out earlier in the year so it was agreed to hold a quiz night instead.

The 22 participants were divided into 4 teams by drawing lots and then our knowledge was tested! There was a good variety of SLB related questions and formats and some interesting topics but a team consisting of Martin S, Ann S, Peggy, Rita N, Rita R & Graham managed to triumph. Generous prizes were kindly donated by Brian and all participants received a prize – so Brian thanks again for your hard work.

From the feedback the quiz was enjoyed by all and made for an entertaining evening among friends.