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Old 21st March 2014
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Nesting sites of Raptors and others

Hello all!

Yesterday I checked the known nesting sites 2km NNW of my place. I'll post pics below of each nest as well as a map, showing how far they are apart, and how difficult access for me is
I went by car and if you refer to the map you see a tarmac road and a spot beside it in the S border, thats where I like to park my car. Crossing the road, going N just a few steps and in a Pine tree there is the Raven nest:
#1

Two Ravens (Corvus corax) were around, calling in the distance, circling in the sky and following there daily business. I like them!


Then, standing in the shadow of a large Ash 100m N of the road I spent at least half an hour. Heard + saw a Black Woodpecker 50m W of me. The bird stayed in close vicinity for quite some time but did never offer an opportunity for a pic. Just 25m NE a Song Trush played her lovely song low in an Oak. I was more interested in the Tree Creepers on the Pines just on the other side of the pathway though. And all around are smaller Firs too and there were at least two Firecrests about.
Whilst I was waiting for the Firecrests to present a shot I watched the pair of Red Kites flying overhead and even took some frames of one:
#2

Red Kite (Milvus milvus), obviously in pretty good shape after all the migrating.

Then finaly the Firecrest made a short lasting apperence on a twig about 8m away. I had my usual difficulties with MF and am happy I almost good it focused correctly:
#3

#4

Firecrest female (Regulus ignicapillus).

By then I had observed the Tree Creepers for a good while as well. And there was a pattern in their movements, which had not gone unnoticed by me. Maybe 10m away stood a dead Pine tree. On it's northern side - pointing away from me - the Tree Creepers focused their attention to a spot about 6m up the trunk. When I finaly went on and past the Pine I saw (with binoculars that is) a small gap where the bark came loose.
#5


Hmm, could that be?! Let's see! So I stood still again and not befor long, the Tree Creeper came with some material in beak and disappeard behind said bark! Sadly, all photos I made of it where out of focus So I waited for the next round and got these in:
#6

#7

Ahh, better! There you have it! A Tree Creeper (Certhia familiaris) building his nest (position marked "T" on map).

From where I stood in wait for the Tree Creeper I had already made out a new to me nest further N; in a Pine tree and fairly large. I've seen it for the first time on this outing.
#8

This nest was build in 2013, after my last visit in early spring. I can only speculate who build it; position marked "n" on map.

Some steps further NE there is the big old Red Kite nest (marked "K" on map). I know for sure the Kites bred here in 2012, because I saw and photographed both birds on site in spring of that year.
#9

Red Kite nest in Pine tree.

Fine! Now lets go W through the forest on a new logging "road" for just about 100m. Then carefully turning N, looking for the Goshawk nest in a Beech ("G" on map). The line of sight is terrible from this or any direction, but I managed to find a hole:
#10

The Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) nest seems storm beaten and I could not see anything fresh ontop of it. I regularly saw Goshawks during the winter and hope the resident couple is still around ...

That was that and now for the map:
#11

Notice the scale bar in the lower left; but I also measured the distances and will list them here for your convenience and to show, how very close these different species can/will/do nest:
  • R-K = 200m
  • R-G = 340m
  • K-G = 200m
  • n-G = 195m
  • n-K = 52m
  • n-R = 160m

The "New" nest is definately to big for a Crow (Corvus corone); it may be that the Ravens retreated from the edge of the woods? Or the Red Kites did a new one close to their old site!? But it might even be a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) joining the party here!? If not that, the next Buzzard nest I know is 700m SSW from here.
In any case, it is surprising how close Raven, Kite and Goshawk are nesting after all. Each of them could go after the chicks of the others! Just think how long it would take to cover the respective distances - on the wing! In my opinion the Goshawk leads the list and the Kite might be the weakest in line, but apparently it has all worked so far. I find this quite remarkable.

The Tree Creeper needs to be lucky or a Woodpecker might chip his home away; it would be nice to find a Firecrest nest indeed - and I'll have to go back in a week or two, to see what is going on at the "New" nest ...

Almost forgot this evil one
#12


I hope nobody got bored by now!?
Falk
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Old 21st March 2014
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

Excellent work Falk.
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

Very interesting Falk. They are big nests and the tree creeper was a great capture. I never saw them before, Thanks very much for sharing the story, locations and the photos.
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Old 21st March 2014
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

I'm really envious of the Firecrest and Treecreeper shots, both birds I have seen and shot but struggled to get anything worthwhile, excellent stuff here
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Old 21st March 2014
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

Nice shots and storyline looking forward to the next chapter.
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Old 24th March 2014
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

Nice story, Falk!

Regarding the species abilities to prey on each other: as long as the nest is guarded by a parent I doubt they will take the risk, unless absolutely desperate. Based on the density of raptor nest I guess there must be healthy population of prey in your area.

I have been lucky to observe Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Raven and also Marsh Harrier in argue for food at several occasions and I would rank them as follows (based on "the winner takes it all").

Red Kite > Raven > Buzzard > Marsh Harrier

I haven't seen any Goshawk involved in such competitions (we don't have much deep forest to speak of here so they are rare sightings), but I tend to agree with you. Goshawk are powerful and (at least females) should be capable of rivalling Red Kites.
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Old 25th March 2014
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Re: Nesting sites of Raptors and others

I am a bit lagging behind with my reply to all your comments - sorry!
I am glad you can apprecciate the story - thanks.

Tord, as you say, garding the nest seems to be a necessity. And that is somethng you might not want to do ALL the time - or you might not be able to do it. Sooner or later you may be forced to leave the nest alone because there are so many mouth to feed etc.
Wouldn't you be better off, breeding somewhere else in the first place?! But then, it also has some value to know where the potential danger is ...
Or it could all boil down to a certain "Burgfrieden"!? A state of peace keeping in ones close vicinity. I only know the German expression and am to lazy right now to search for an English equivalent, sorry. But you'll get the idea, I am sure.

Goshawks, even the lighter males, should be on top of all other species mentioned - in hard combat. But the risk to get some battle damage is always there of course. The Ravens are heavy, but as long as you get a good grip on the head and they can't bring their massive beak into play, then it's game over. The Kites talons are no match in comparison to those of the Goshawks, but could at least inflict deep wounds and should be avoided, sure. Buzzards, no chance. Two pairs of Marsh Harriers settled 2-3km away; they keep their distance
But, I usualy don't see any direct conflict between the mentioned species. Sparrowhawks and Kestrels do chase each other quite often. And all are harrassed by Crows of course ...

As for prey, well, not really. No Rabbits whatsoever! In the good old days my father and I used to catch many a Rabbit a day with his Goshawk, but Myxomatosis put an end to it long ago. The Goshawks must mainly live on a Dove/Pigeon diet nowadays. Then lots of former gravel pits, now ponds, do provide water fowl. But depending on arial targets can't be to easy, at least for a female Goshawk. All the other species must mainly live on mice/voles/moles I guess.

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