Back on the 15th.April , I posted pictures of a pair of Nuthatches , which had decided to nest in a bird box on the side of my Warden's house , up on the Greensand Ridge . I managed to get plenty of shots of the pair , and looked forward to following the nesting story . All seemed well for a week or so , then just and odd view of a single bird at the entrance hole , but not entering the box . There followed weeks of no sightings , and it was obvious something had gone wrong . The last few weeks of volunteering has been mainly in the yard , working on the new shed , giving ample views of the nest box . Admittedly , last week and this , a male has returned to the garden , and has been calling from the Oak , but nothing at or near the box .
Today , before coming home , I decided to open the box and see if the mystery could be solved . With trepidation , I unscrewed the front of the box and slid it down . My worst dread of a dead female didn't materialize , just about 22cm./3 inches of bark , like that in the bill of the bird above , with a depression in the middle . Nuthatches lay their eggs in late April / early May , just after the pictures were taken , and obviously too late to do so now . So we decided to clear out the box , save doing it in the Autumn . I started clearing out the fragments of Scots Pine bark , then stopped when I felt something down at the bottom . That something turned out to be a dead Blue Tit , still in very good condition , but very stiff and flattened . Right on the floor of the box , were three eggs , without any nesting materials , and obviously the 3 inches of bark above them , before I started removing it . The eggs of both species are very similar , and my Observers Book of Bird's Eggs , states that the size and markings of both species are very variable , so they could be either .
I opened the box to get an answer , but have only finished up with even more questions . How did the Blue Tit die and finish up under 3 inches of bark ? Who's eggs were they under the bark ? Whichever species laid the eggs , why were they laid on the wooden floor ? Why did the Nuthatches carry on collecting nesting material when the Blue Tit was lying dead in the box ? All questions that I will never find the answers to .
Hope to get out tomorrow , weather permitting .
3 hours ago