Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker nest, From Chicks to fledging (Prt 2)

Breeding LESSER-SPOTTED WOODPECKER summary (Part 2)-
Undisclosed site
(May-June 2012)

A week at 6th form passed, getting occasional messages confirming that the male Lesser Pecker was still feeding the chicks. And that relieved me an awful lot.

I returned to check briefly late one evening, and could hear the chicks within the nest, however the male bird didnt appear, apparently already roosting in the nest hole (the time was about 9:30pm).
When i next visited the site, it was great to see the male bird immidiatly upon arrival at the nest, and i placed myself back into the position i had the previous weekend allowing the bird to visit the newst freely.
It was great to finally see the chicks within the nest, where i confirmed that there was at least 3 chicks within the nest at that point as they came to the nest enterence to recieve food. (One male with red crown, one female with white crown, and a slightly downy bird, which was worrlyingly less advanced as the other 2 birds)

The male was still bringing food extremly regularly, and still seemed to be following the same routine it was before, Many Mayflies and Craneflys were brought back to the nest, which seemed to be the staple diet the bird was bringing back for its chicks.
On a couple of occasions, the bird appeared with its bill entangled within a spiders web, which shows the birds were also eating spiders, but could also have shown that it could have been using the spiders to find its own food, and catch it?

As its chicks were now quite grown, i started wondering at the dates to try and work out the time the young may fledge. I had read into breeding times of LSW, and was quoted that the chicks usually fledge 14-17 days after hatching! As the previous week the birds seemed very small, and 8 days having already passed since i had found the nest (with chicks already hatched), that would put the fledging dates in the next week, when (unfortunatly in a way) i would be on holiday in wales.

However, another locla birder said they would have a check early the next week, to have a check up, and to have a scout around for anything else.

Unlike the previous week, no doubt because of the chicks increased maturity, the adult bird was increasingly ferantic with its food gathering. The previous week, the male bird would spend a long period (Up to a minuite) at the nest enterance feeding the chicks, however now, it was down to a few seconds. the bird would land at the nest hole, the young would appear, a quick food pass and he'd be gone, off to find more food,

This became frustrating trying to get video footage as the bird would only be present for a few seconds ( Scroll down/Read down for Montage)

In this montage of small clips, you can see 2 of the 3 chicks appear out the nest to grab food from their father.


I was cursing the person that ran past at the opening of the film, as i had got the video quite well focoused, and it was the first documentation i had got of one of the juveniles (That particualar bird being the female)

Also, unlike the previous visits, the bird very rarely entered the nest now, only going in once while i watched, presumably because the young could now 'deal with' their own droppings.

The bird was as showy as ever, and again, was a huge pleasure to watch.
I left the nest site, knowing that i proberbly wouldnt see the birds again.

(Looking at an overflying Buzzard)

(peering into its nest hole having fed its chicks)

As already stated, the nest was checked during the week while i was away. And on the Monday, the chicks were still in the nest being fed.
This was the last i heard of the birds untill i dropped in an hour or so after returning from my holiday, to find a vacated nest, with no sign of any damage (ruling out a chance of predation). I checked the adjacent row of trees and came a blank.
However, when walking though a nearby thick wood on the bank off a hill, i heard the incessant tone of fledgling LSW's (At least 2),
A succesful fledging!
The wood where they have chosen to reside now though is almost imposisble to 'work' in the summertime, so therefore, i'd be suprised if i get any futher sightings of the birds, although i should be able to hear them.
Now the chicks are out of the nest, they face an even bigger challenge, trying to survive out there in the wild, lets hope everything goes ok for them!

We could do with a few more LSW around, and hopefully this will symbolise a regular breeding presence at this particular site, on which i was privialidged to find, and be able to watch the coming and goings of the nest of the Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker, an increasingly declining species within our country, and one which always gets the highlight within  days list.
A truily charismatic species, which would be a huge shame to lose from the area!


Tim Jones said...

Well done Craig, hard work paid off! Nice one, been trying to find them all year here in York with no luck! Maybe I'll get lucky and locate some noisy juvs!

Jason K said...

A great find Craig and an excellent post summarizing about them

midlands birder said...

Cheers Tim, I was just lucky to have them breeding in such an open site, and that i walk that track often tbh, but its a great feeling that they've now fledged young. A real privialidge!
Im sure you'll get one up in york soon. Had anything decent up there this year?
Jase- Thankyou, as said in my reply to Tim, it was a great privialidge to be able to find, watch, and hopefully help protect the nest from accidental disturbance. I now hope that LSW becomes a regular breeder at the site.