As April arrives, we are excited for birds to begin nesting across Essex. But who’s nest belongs to who? We explore the most interesting nests to spot this month!
Nests in the nook
Have you ever seen a bird’s nest on a ledge, or in the eaves of a farm building? This may belong to a Swallow! A common summer visitor arriving in April and leaving again in October, Swallows create nests using mud and straw.
We are delighted to have our Swallow Webcam back this year! You can follow the inhabitants of our Fingringhoe Wick nest box with our live stream web cam later this month.
Steep and sandy
The Sand Martin is our smallest Swallow and nests in colonies, digging burrows in steep sandy cliffs usually on wetland sites. The burrows can be up to a metre long with a chamber at the end to protect four to five eggs laid on collected straw and feathers.
Swiftly does it
The Swift is a fast-flying bird with long, curved wings. Originally nesting on cliffs and in holes in trees, they are now much more likely to nest in older buildings such as churches.
Did you know? Swift's collect insects in a special pouch at the back of the throat, where they are bound together by saliva until they form a kind of pellet known as a bolus. This can then be regurgitated and fed to chicks!
The Cuckoo is a scarce summer visitor, arriving in March/April and leaving as soon as they have laid their eggs to travel to Africa. The Cuckoo is a 'brood parasite', famous for laying its eggs in other birds' nests and fooling them into raising its young. Dunnocks, Meadow Pipits and Reed Warblers are common victims of this 'cuckolding' behaviour.
Did you know? A female cuckoo will generally lay her eggs in a nest belonging to the same species of bird that reared her!
The beautiful Barn Owl is a firm favourite to see; it’s distinctive oval face and features offer an exciting wildlife sighting for the people of Essex. Barn Owls can thrive in nest boxes; a particularly successful location is our Blue House Farm nest box where owls have successfully raised young in the nest every summer since we started the live broadcast in 2012. Last year two chicks fledged; the year before three and we've even had two broods!
This year why not join the Barny Army! You can now watch the action live from our Barn Owl Webcam alongside our team of loyal online followers. Watch the live stream or keep an eye out on our social media for updates as we hope to see another successful brood this year.