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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wed 3rd March 2010 - Quarr Abbey, Binstead.

This week saw us again at Quarr Abbey, continuing with the hedge work we started a few weeks ago. The weather was a big improvement on the heavy rains of last week, with a bright sunny day blue sky, but a rather chill wind blowing off the Solent. We were busy taking the hedge line down to about 3.5 feet, and clearing away all the very think brambles between the hedge and the fence into the field, and several large loads of brash were packed into the trailer for transporting to the compost heap. Bearing in mind the time of year, a quick check was done to ensure no birds had started to set up home, but we did find a nest, probably from last year, which we think was a blackbird - see picture.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

The blackbird breeding season lasts from early March to late July, and chicks are often found in a nest well into August. During this period blackbirds rear 2-3 broods, and in a good year a fourth brood may be attempted. Weather determines the timing of the breeding season, and warm or cold spells in spring can bring the breeding season forward or delay it by several days. Dry weather in June can shorten the season and even cause starvation of late broods, with the nesting season starting up to two weeks earlier in gardens than in woodland.

The nest, built by the female, is low down in any suitable cover. Trees, shrubs and climbers are preferred, but nests can be found inside buildings and occasionally even on the ground. The nest is a substantial cup of grass, straw, small twigs and other plant material, and plastered inside with mud and lined with fine grass. It can take two weeks to complete, and sometimes the same nest is used for successive broods. The normal clutch size is 3-5, with larger clutches laid in woodland than in gardens, and the female incubates alone, with the chicks hatching 13-14 days later. Only the female broods the chicks, but they are fed by both parents; the food varies, with chicks in gardens fed on earthworms when available, while chicks in woodland are fed mainly on caterpillars.

Many thanks to Carrie and Eddie for the text and pics.

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