A start has been made - 18 of the nest boxes were used by Blue tits and of those, 17 successfully fledged young - an amazing 112 chicks in all. Their success is all in the timing - the chicks were large enough or had fledged before the period of bad weather in May. A male Pied flycatcher built several nests for his mate to pick from, one of which was in a nest box. The female inspected all of the nests, but unfortunately didn't choose the one in the nest box. The project has still been viewed as a success, as it can take a year too for the birds to get used to the new boxes. The hope is that next year, more boxes will be used as the returning Pied flycatcher's know that they're there just waiting to be occupied.
The Pied flycatcher
The Pied flycatcher migrates to the UK every year from Africa. It's a red listed bird, so suitable nesting sites are being provided for them at Hembury Woods.
Nesting sites for pied flycatchers
Over one winter, volunteers based at Parke have built 51 nest boxes which have been placed throughout Hembury Woods in groups of three. A lot of birds don't like to live next door to their own species, but are quite happy to be close to other types of bird. So by placing the nest boxes in groups of three, the hope is that blue tits and great tits will go in two of them and the third will be left for the pied flycatcher who arrives a bit later.
As part of the Piedfly.net nest box monitoring project, there are five nest box checks from April to June. Records are taken of the first egg date, the number of chicks and how many of them fledged, along with timings. All of the information collected is forwarded to the British Trust for Ornithology to be included in their nest recording scheme.
The pied flycatcher also plays a role in monitoring climate change, by when they decide to nest. Records show that they now nest two weeks earlier than they did in the 1950s.