What’s in that nest box?

It’s been really busy here on the reserve over the past week or so. I think it’s partly due to the fact that we have all been cooped up all winter and Easter is the perfect time to escape to the great outdoors! There are times when I get stuck in the office, trying to catch up on paperwork but over the past few days my Seasonal Ranger Adam and I have been checking all our bird boxes, removing damaged ones and having a sneak peek to see if any ‘early birds’ have started nest building yet.

Blue tit nest (c) Amy Lewis

Blue tit nest (c) Amy Lewis

Alas, it seems it is still too cold and we have seen no evidence of nest building as yet (it is still early). I thought you might be interested to hear about the sort of things we have been finding though. Quite a few of our boxes had lots of bird droppings in, which show they are being used as an overnight roost. I remember in my old job a wren used to use a nest box regularly, just outside my office window as their overnight roost. They are a guaranteed warm, dry place to stay and in woodland such as ours that doesn’t have many older trees, it can be difficult to find crevices to roost in.

We have also found a variety of nesting materials from the usual mosses to one full of badger and deer fur! One of our larger boxes looks like a pair of jackdaws may have used it, as it was full of twigs. One of the reasons we clean out these boxes is to get rid of any parasites living in the nesting material, this gives the birds the best chance of success for the coming year.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Falls of Clyde Recent Sightings 8th-14th April

Hi,

They say one swallow doesn’t make a summer so when a single bird flew over the boardwalk on the 9th I tried not to get too excited, however on the 11th numbers increased with a small flock busy hawking over the River Clyde next to the visitor centre in the company of the reserve’s first sand martins of the year.

Migrant birds certainly took advantage of the good weather with a handful of new chiffchaffs spread across the reserve, c.45 pink-footed geese over New Lanark (8th) and c.10 fieldfare on the woodland trail (11th). Butterflies observed on the wing this week included peacock and green-veined white. Meanwhile warmer nightime temperatures led to increased moth activity with trapping dominated by hebrew characters.

yellow horned

Yellow horned moth was one of the highlights from moth trapping on the reserve this week.

Three peregrine falcons were observed from the watchpoint on the 11th, our pair giving away the presence of an intruder through gazing upwards and the male bird emitting a clucking call. Interestingly our pair made no attempt to mob the interloper who drifted off without any confrontation.

Other interesting sightings from the past week included, a Nuthatch around the Hall of Mirrors and male Yellowhammers singing near Bonnington weir.

Weather Watch

With the current weather forecast not looking fantastic for visible bird migration I’d suggest visitors should look out for nest building long-tailed tit. Triggered by increasing day length and generally warmer temperatures this skilful builder is currently busy collecting moss, lichen and spiders webs to make a rather delicate and well camouflaged domed nest which is lined with a mass of feathers.

Adam Jones – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger
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The waiting continues…

After last week’s sunny weather I was hoping to come back to some eggs this Friday and an incubating falcon. Unfortunately our girl seems to be a bit late and hasn’t laid any eggs yet. The waiting continues!

Tiercel with starling (c) Cat Fonseca

Tiercel with starling (c) Cat Fonseca

The peregrines seem to have had a very chilled weekend spending a lot of time perching and preening. I was very happy on Friday when the tiercel brought the falcon a starling that she “posed” with before plucking. And also when he did the same later on with another starling he brought for himself. As a bird newbie one of the biggest challenges is to identify featherless prey items, so I always get excited when we can have a good look at them.

On Saturday there was some interesting activity when an intruder peregrine flew over the watch site. The only reaction seemed to be clucking from the tiercel but none of them were bothered enough to chase the intruder off. They showed a similar reaction last week when, on two different occasions, a buzzard flew close to the watch site and the peregrines kept a silent eye on the trespasser.

In the past our pair has actively chased out peregrines, buzzards and ospreys. However, most of these incidents happened when there were eggs in the eyrie (nest), which might explain the readiness to actively respond to intruders.

Although in these cases the territorial behaviour was shown to protect the eggs, it is demonstrated as well to decrease competition for food and nesting areas. That is why we only have one breeding pair at the Falls of Clyde and why the juveniles need to leave the area once they are strong flyers and hunters.

See you soon,

Cat Fonseca – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Peregrine Ranger Intern
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Announcing the launch of our Wildlflower Trail!

Last week we put out our wildflower trail, if you are a regular visitor to the Falls of Clyde reserve, I am sure you will remember having seen it last year along the boardwalk. We have small signs next to each wildflower telling you all about how to identify them and some interesting facts and folklore. They will be updated throughout the year so keep your eye out next time you visit.

Wildflower Trail (c) Adam Jones_edit

Wildflower Trail (c) Adam Jones

Over the Easter weekend we saw record numbers of visitors to our Peregrine Watch Site, with over 350 people coming to see our peregrines! We also held our annual duck race in the village and too much hilarity (and stress) on Monday the mill lade emptied 10 minutes before the race began. We dutifully launched the ducks hoping there would be enough flow to move them to the finish line and there was, it just took the ducks 25mins to overcome the various obstacles in their path including rocks and a mini waterfall. The sluice gate that controls the water levels has a sensor that has been malfunctioning so there was nothing anyone could do.

I just want to thank everyone who was at the race for their patience and understanding! I was beginning to think we must have broken some record for the longest duck race (in terms of time).

Finally I just want to mention a new long-term volunteer who has just started with us at the Peregrine Watch Site. Sam Langford, who is volunteering through an organization called Project Scotland will be with us for three days per week (Mon-Wed) until the end of June when the watch site will close. It’s really great to have so many dedicated and hard working people on the reserve this year!

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Falls of Clyde Recent Sightings 1st-7th April

Hi,

A dipper flying low upstream from the Mill Weir is a regular sight on the reserve however an individual observed flying above the height of adjacent conifers on the 1st was more unusual in terms of behaviour. Other regulars on the river Clyde included otter at Bonnington Weir (occasional reports from visitors), a pair of grey wagtail from the Visitor Centre (daily) and two goosanders around Bonnington Weir (daily).

Pink-footed Geese remained in the immediate area with regular skeins spotted including 200+ over Bonnington Pavilion (1st) and c.90 over the Clyde Walkway (5th). Two jay were regular around Bonnington Pavilion and Bonnington Weir, whilst a pair of ravens flew over the powerstation (5th).

Raven

Ravens pair-bonding in New Lanark (c) Adam Jones

Temperatures rising to a toasty 16°C on Easter Sunday resulted in a quick response from the reserve’s wildlife with our first chiffchaff of the year singing its heart out along the Bonnington Trail, a trio of great spotted woodpeckers chasing each other around the Bonnington Trail, peacock and comma butterflies (Peregrine Watch and boardwalk respectively) and toads croaking in small pools near Bonnington weir.

Weather Watch

High pressure looks set to dominate for the next few days resulting in great conditions for spring bird migration. For the reserve this should result in the arrival of more chiffchaffs. However two species I’d suggest visitors should look out for are sand martin around Bonnington Weir and eyes to the skies for a migratory osprey.

Adam Jones – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger
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