Of the 14 bird boxes in the park, 8 have been nested in this year, compared to 6 last year. Sadly, one of them had been vandalised, but thanks to the efforts of Andrew Lawrence and Gary Luton, the remaining ones are now clean and ready for new occupants next spring.
Our local ‘bird man’ and RSPB representative John Yates commented:
Eight out of fourteen bird boxes nested in! Encouraging results – nearly 60%, better than many places. I haven’t seen much in the Park lately, mostly crows, jackdaws and pigeons. A small flock of birds in the SW corner last week looked like gold crests. About six weeks ago, there was a great kerfuffle at the back of the allotments as two ravens kept flying in and out of a tree. I wondered if they were prospecting. Ravens already nest in the city a short distance from the park and, as they are one of the early nesters, keep an eye out for them in February. They are as large as buzzards – look for their huge bills and wedge shaped tail and listen for their deep “Kronk” call.
The buzzards displayed off the Beechen Cliff again in the spring and were seen a couple of time catching earthworms in the park. It is suspected that they have nested on the cliff again. During the summer, I saw a pair of stock doves a couple of times, an odd sparrow hawk and woodpecker and on one occasion, one of the young peregrines from St. John’s Church. It was obviously practising its hunting, and shot through in a blink of an eye. On another occasion there was a heron in a tree by the allotments. Herons are another early nester and the heronry by Widcombe Manor is visible from the park before the leaves on the trees come out and hide it. Nut hatches are in and around the park and were very voluble in the spring, but when not calling are hard to find as they forage in the canopy. These were bright spots in a period of unfortunately low bird activity.
Many birds are now feeding on berries of various sorts, whilst others like jays are stocking up larders of nuts (especially acorns), both of which are lacking in the park. The one nut which does occur is beech mast but trees do not produce it every year. This doesn’t appear to be much of a mast year so we are unlikely to see many chaffinches or bramblings this winter, unless they find the grass seed from the patches you let grow long. This lack of autumn and winter food is why I would like to see some trees with berries and fruit up in the park.
A useful addition would be an owl box for tawny owls, as there are some in the area (they are an owl that inhabits towns and they are spread right across Bath). Listen out for them in December and January. I have seen and heard them in Greenway Lane and at the bottom of Entry Hill.
I’m fairly sure the eggs you retrieved from one of the nests you found whilst cleaning the bird boxes are Blue Tit eggs.