I’m afraid our concerns for the smallest of the kestrel chicks proved correct and we unfortunately witnessed siblicide first hand. This is when older birds will eat their younger and weaker siblings when there is not enough food being supplied by the parents. It is very common among birds of prey and almost always as a result of environmental conditions. Although it can seem to us quite brutal, it is a sensible survival strategy and ensures that the strongest and fittest survive, rather than a whole brood struggling to reach peak condition and fledge. Other birds that practice this behaviour include owls, herons and egrets.
Currently there are three chicks left and you may be wondering what happened to the fourth. The truth is we are unsure whether it was the eldest and it has already fledged or if it was a second victim of siblicide. We suspect the latter is more likely as we have not had any sightings of a juvenile around the nest area, where it would still be fed by the adults until it had learnt to catch prey for itself. However, the three remaining chicks are more like teenagers now and showing all the markings of young kestrels. A week ago they were getting curious of the outside world and took to peaking over the front of the box.
Now they are getting quite restless and have taken to sitting in the entrance bold as brass. It won’t be long before they leave the nest now.
The stock dove eggs have both hatched and the parents have been feeding the chicks, also known as squabs. Initially they will have been fed a special ‘crop milk’ produced in the parents’ crop, which is a muscular pouch near the throat to temporarily store food. After about four days they are fed a mix of partially digested feed, typically seed, mixed with crop milk and after a further week just regurgitated feed.
You can just see one of the chicks under mum!
Please note that on Tuesday 12 June we will be closed. The paths and trails will of course be open to the public as normal and we will be back to business as usual on Wednesday 13 June.
Over the recent weeks you would not been blamed to think you were in the Mediterranean particular if you are luckily enough to have seen our range of species arriving on the reserve. The start of this was a beautiful Bee-eater which was initially reported from Church Norton and was seen again yesterday nr Ham. a few days after the discovery of the bee-eater a Golden Oriole was heard also at Church Norton.
Then early on the 3rd June a Black-Winged Stilt was reported from the ferry pool.
Distance views of the Black-Winged Stilt on the Ferry Pool 3rd June 2018
However this is not the first time this species has graced the reserve recently. 2014 over at our Medmerry reserve a pair breed and successfully raised 3 young only the third time in the UK. this species has continued to arrive in the UK and is a pleasant addition to any visitors list on a day visit to Pagham
One of the birds that visited us in 2014