What miserable weather we’re having today, fortunately Thursday of last week was much nicer which allowed me (and a colleague John Lusby) to get out and check some of my known West Offaly Kestrel nest sites. As promised below is a picture of the inside of a Kestrel nest. These striking specked eggs are from a Kestrel nest in an old ruined mansion just outside Banagher village. The female flushed quite quickly on our arrival on site, the only remaining trace of her was a single moulted feather. Not altogether untypically she remained quite close, often circling overhead, keeping a close watch on proceedings. We were in and out in no time, which happily allowed the female to soon return to her precious six strong clutch. Six is the maximum number of eggs which has been recorded by Birdwatch Ireland at a Kestrel nest. This nest fledged five birds last year, so hopefully similar success is in store in the weeks and months to come.
Although the majority of Kestrel nests which we visited on Thursday were on eggs, there is however quite a degree of variation in timing between pairs. Another site just outside Ferbane hosts a pair who haven't settled down to it yet. The birds are still soaring around their castle abode, a courtship behaviour usually seen earlier in the season. Another pair close by, which I spend a morning with in order to pin down their nest, spent a three hour period copulating and courting. A degree of variation in timing of breeding is natural in a population, with younger birds often being the last to settle down to breed.
Spring has sprung for most other species and is wearing on, into a hopeful summer. This Chaffinch brood for example, pictured below will be fledging any day now. The nest is perfectly camouflaged at the centre of this Hawthorn bush. The young birds pleads’ for food, being the only clue to their presence. Their industrious parents scolded me angrily, as I took this picture. Continue to keep an eye on the blog for more updates and pictures as the breeding season kicks into overdrive in the coming weeks.