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Nature Notes - July 2, 2009
AT this time year birds are well into their nesting season with most well on the way to producing their first brood (some may even be on their second).
This is a hard time for the parent birds as they will need to feed a large and still demanding chick and also work to encourage the youngster to fledge and leave the nest.
This is also a dangerous time as the young birds are inexperienced and some even leave the nest before they are quite ready to fly putting them at risk from predators.
It is important if you do see a young bird an the ground away from its nest, no matter the temptation, not to get involved as the young bird’s best hope of survival will be through the skills of its parents who will try to feed the fledgling until it develops physically enough to take to the skies.
I came across just such a case the other day, a young thrush, to be honest the young bird was fantastically well camouflaged with its tan and dark spotted plumage beautifully blending it in to the leaf litter covered woodland floor.
The young bird though saw the movement as I passed and decided that I might be bringing it another meal and opened its beak with that typical feed me expression it must have used 99 percent of the time it was back in the nest. In doing so it revealed the scarlet red patch at the back of the throat that helps the parent birds to instinctively feed it.
Being me, I could not help to stop for a few seconds to have a look but I was conscious every moment I spent in its proximity would put the young bird at risk of being abandoned by its parents so I quickly moved on.
The chick was lucky this time as if it had reacted like this in front of a more predatory animal I feel its days would have been up. I can only hope the parent birds were able to persuade this young bird that every passing shadow is not a meal and the importance of remaining still.
Another young family I have been watching out on the nature reserves are the great crested grebes on Hurcott Pool. This pair of grebes, more likely than not the same pair as previous years, have constructed a floating reed nest at the edge of the pool and the female has been sitting on this now from 20 days with the male bird constantly feeding her small fish to help keep up her strength .
However, so far I have not been able to see any signs that the eggs have hatched once (and I suppose sadly, if, as they are becoming overdue). The young, which are fantastically cute in their zebra-like plumage will climb onto their parents’ backs and hitch a ride with them around the pool. The young though are born good swimmers and as they mature they increasing make forays to swim, play and forage for themselves.
This for now is just some thing I’ll have to wait and hope for.