Nesting season! Written by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's young ambassador Izzy Fry, age 15 Spring marks the start of the nesting season and at the moment it is in full swing! From long tailed tits carefully constructing their nests from spider webs and lichens, to tawny owl chicks getting ready to fledge the nest! One of my favourite things to do during spring, is look for nests! Sitting in between hedges watching blackbirds bringing in nesting material and wrens fiercely singing to mark their territory, is the best way to spend a sunny day! Over the past few months I have found some interesting nests! Some that are well used from last year and a few new ones full with glossy eggs. Chaffinch Nest My 8 year-old brother actually spotted this nest! He pointed to a tree and said "I bet there will be a nest in there" and sure enough there was! A chaffinch nest with 4 off-white eggs with brown red splotches! Robin Nest Robin nests can be found in unusual places and often very close to people! I found this one up in the roof of our porch! Dunnock Nest I always hear and see Dunnocks singing at the top of a hedgerow by my house, so I decided to look for a nest! After looking for a few minutes I spotted it! The female was actually sitting on it, but hopped off for a minute to let us spy the 4 bright blue luminous eggs! Long Tailed Tit Nest My brother spotted this nest again (he is an amazing nest finder, I think its because he is the right height to find them!). We were walking along the fence line of a wood and he noticed this ball of fluff! I have also been checking the nest boxes I have put up around my family’s farm! Most of the tit boxes are being used, mostly by blue tit and great tit, but also a couple by marsh tit and coal tit! During winter I also put up a few owl and kestrel boxes. At the minute we have one being used by Tawny owls and another with stock dove. Nothing in the kestrel boxes at the minute, but there is still time left for some pairs to nest in them! Lapwing Nest One of my favourite nests to find, is Lapwing. I am very lucky to have a few pairs nesting in a field just over the road from me, and it has been amazing to watch them build their nests, lay eggs and raise their young! In the breeding season, Lapwings need a range of habitats, because they need different conditions for nesting and for chick rearing. The nest is a scrape in the ground, lined with a bit of plant material. The birds need a good all round view from the nest to spot predators, and nest either on bare ground or in short vegetation. They often choose rough or broken ground to aid concealment of the nest – the field that the lapwings nest in near me, has been cultivated and rolled. They lay clutches of four speckled olive coloured eggs from late March to early June, and chicks hatch 3-4 weeks later. They are covered in down when they hatch, and are able to walk about and feed within hours! Soon after hatching, the parents will lead them to suitable feeding areas, where the supply of surface invertebrates is good and the vegetation low. They particularly need to have nearby grassland, especially if it contains flood pools and damp patches. The transfer between the nesting and chick-rearing habitats can be hazardous, and chick survival often depends on how far they have to travel. The families stay in the chick-rearing habitat until the young are ready to fly at 5-6 weeks old. Lapwings only rear one brood a year, but may lay up to four replacement clutches if the eggs are lost. A few weeks ago, we ringed some of the Lapwing chicks! We only ring the young as the adults fly up as soon as they see us. We drove around to the field and scanned it for Lapwing pairs and their chicks. After about an hour, we found a pair with a couple of chicks. We ran out and began to search for them. The adults fly up and call to the young to hide – they crouch down and blend in with the ground very very well! Lapwings can be rung just hours after they hatch as their legs don’t really change size, so the same sized ring is attached at all stages throughout their lives! We found them after a few minutes and it was really amazing to ring them and see them up close! It will be interesting to see where these chicks go in the winter and if they come back to breed in the next few years! The nesting season is the perfect time to get outside and search for nests, look high, low and in a range of different habitats! More about Izzy can be found below. www.youngnaturalistizzyfry.com @izzyfryphotography - Instagram If you would like to find out more about Wiltshire’s wildlife, conservation success stories and nature events then join the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust mailing list below.