As spring approaches fast we have been busy repairing and preparing the Tawny Owl nest boxes (which in most cases are plastic barrels). PDRMG intend to restart their long term study of Tawny Owls after having a break to concentrate on other species, visits to 25 sites in 2011 gave cause to believe that the 2 recent harsh winters may have had an impact on them.
The first eggs we have recorded of 2012 were Tawny Owl on the 3/3/2012 , closely followed by Raven on 8/3/2012.
We have built and replaced a number of Kestrel nest boxes, the intention being to survey how Common Kestrel are faring in light of reported national declines and apparent local decline (a number of historic nest sites were seen to be unused in 2011).
The Nest Record Scheme
It is important to supply as much useful information from the work we do as possible, by completing nest record cards (or using the nest record facility in the IPMR software provided by the BTO), we can greatly increase the usefulness of the data that we record from the multiple nest visits that are undertaken throughout the breeding season.
Each nest record details a single breeding attempt using simple, standardised techniques. Any nest can be recorded anywhere in the UK as a raptor monitoring group we concentrate on birds of prey and owls but individually we might record wild birds of any species.
Each nest record should contain the following information:
- Location – We record the county, place and grid reference for the nest. The geographical location of a nest can affect breeding success due to differences in habitat and weather conditions.
- Nest Contents – After identifying the species that has built the nest (often the easiest way is to watch for the adults), it should be visited on several occasions. The stage of development of the nest, eggs and young are recorded using the simple ‘Status Codes’ provided. A series of visits to a nest throughout the nesting period is more valuable than single visits to a number of nests, as multiple visits allow us to calculate egg and nestling survival rates.
- Date – Recording the year in which the record was collected allows calculation of annual changes in productivity. The date of each visit is also important – the timing of breeding may affect its success.
- Habitat – The type of habitat surrounding the nest may influence a variety of factors such as food availability, competition for nesting sites and predator abundance. These could all have an effect on breeding success. Collecting habitat data therefore allows us to investigate these relationships.
Nest Site – Is the nest well hidden or exposed? Is it on flat ground or in a bush? Again, nest site details such as these may influence breeding success. For example, nests high up in a bushes or trees may tend to be more successful than those at low level.