Out of the 48 boxes 18 were made specifically for Marsh Tit, 10 had a 25mm hole and the other 8 had a 23mm hole. In the UK there are only 2 x RAS's at the moment for Marsh Tit. Because of the numbers of Marsh Tit coming to my garden I thought it may be a good idea to start a RAS myself. After talking it over with the BTO I was told I really needed to establish the number of birds that were residing in my area first. I therefore thought that nest boxes suitable for Marsh Tits may give me this important information. Ken Hindmarsh who does a Marsh Tit RAS and comes from Cumbria advised me that a preferred hole size for Marsh Tits was 23mm, the reason being they stop Blue Tits from using the boxes. He was right three boxes with a 25mm hole were occupied by Blue Tits but unfortunately I have not got one Marsh Tit in the remainder.
This is a disappointment and noticeable the Marsh Tits seemed to disappear altogether for about 5 weeks. Why, I do not know, however this last week they are coming again to my feeders, so where have they been? If anyone has got thoughts about this I would love to hear from you.
I have been checking the boxes once a week since 17th April and recording all the information from these checks. The first box to have Pulli old enough to be ringed were the Dippers. No-one was more surprised than me to have Dippers in a box that was only erected on the 14th February.
In the box were 4 Pulli which were ringed at Feather Small on 29th April. The last bird fledged on the 9th May.
One of the hazards of nest box work is the occupation of the Common Wasp (vespula vulgaris) that builds its whitish paper like nest in the roof of nest boxes. It is made from chewed wood fibres mixed with saliva. It often uses abandoned mammal holes, hollows in trees, wall cavities or rock crevices for its nest sites as well.
Many Blue Tits and Great Tits have occupied my boxes. Other than differences in size of the eggs which is minimal they are still difficult to tell apart. The clue obviously is when the adult is on the nest.
These Pulli are Blue Tits which will be ready for ringing in about a week to 10 days
The Great Tit Pulli above were Feather Medium verging on Long so I was able to ring these.
The three pictures above were all taken on the same day and shows the different stages they can be at at any one time.
Blue Tit on the nest and the Pulli are just visible on the left hand side.
Nuthatch often seal the top of the lid to the nest box base with mud. A little care when opening the lid will prevent damage to the mud and should reseal again ok.
Not the same box that the Pulli were ringed from. It shows the type of nesting material used, leaves and bits of bark.
This box of Nuthatch Pulli were Feather Small and there were 6 in the box
A scary hair do on this young Nuthatch!
A summary of my boxes.
19 reached the egg stage,
29 were not occupied.
2 boxes failed
1 Blue Tit and 1 Great Tit.
17 boxes were successful
7 Great Tit
8 Blue Tit
I obviously need to do some work on the Marsh Tit project ready for next year. Out of the 29 boxes that were unoccupied 16 of these were boxes specifically for Marsh Tits and the other 2 were occupied by Blue Tits