A quick post on what's about at Dove Stone. Thursday saw our first Swallows returning to Dove Stone seen flying in the field next to the main carpark and along the main reservoir bank on Friday. Willow warblers and Chiffchaff are also around the estate, arriving a couple of weeks ago. Up at Binn Green there have been recent sightings of Brambling and Lesser Redpoll as well as plenty of Siskins, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and our usual Coal, Great and Blue tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Down in the woods around Binn Green there have been recent reports of Woodcock. No reports of any Crossbills of late. On the main reservoir there have been sightings of Oystercatchers and Cormorant. Elsewhere around Dove Stone there have been sightings of Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Curlew, Raven, Peregrine and Treecreeper. Good views of Mountain Hare too early on Sunday morning including a small group moving across the hillside above Chew Brook.
Long Tailed Tits. They're not really a true tit - although closely related to the tit family ( paridae) they actually belong to a different family order (aegithalidae). Down in the Life-for-a-Life memorial woodlands we found two Long Tailed Tit nests on the ground. Long Tailed Tits can start building their nest around the end of February. It takes them about three weeks and the main body of the nest is made of moss with , spider silk, sheeps wool and feathers and covered in lichen. The feathers provide an insulating lining and the whole construction is given an elasticity provided by the spider silk. There has been research that shows that the spider silk comes from spider egg cocoons and that the moss selected is the type with small leaves and that these get entangled with each other which gives the effect of hooks and loops and that this works like a natural form of velcro.
Check out this link to this really interesting article on nestbuilding: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/building-castles-in-the-air-6149979.html
So what happened with these nests ? They looked pretty complete so the birds hadn't abandoned mid-construction. Long Tailed Tits do build more than the one nest that they'll actually use. And although they can at times chose nest sites that are open ( although they also choose gorse for nest sites ) it's unlikely that these nests would have been blown out by the wind. Predated ? There's no signs of this and even If this was the case then the nests would still have probably remained in the shrub or trees. Perhaps, sadly, it was human interference. A Long Tailed Tit nest is a truly amazing thing to be lucky enough to look at close-up. Perhaps for some realising that same sense of awe, really, isn't as easy a thing to experience from a distance.
Here's a link to a video of a Long Tailed Tit in the process of lining its nest from the RSPB down at Pulborough Brooks: