We are now 2 weeks into the summer atlas period and we still have a lot to do. One of our key tasks this summer is to confirm as many breeding species as possible in each 10k square and enter breeding evidence into the atlas database either through roving records or a timed tetrad visit.
So what should we be looking for? Well many of our commoner residents are already in full swing gathering nest material and building nests (code B , probable breeding) and starting to lay (code ON, confirmed) but some breed earlier than others and April is a good time to look for them. Please note you don't have to actually check the nest to see if there are eggs there. Just observing behaviour that indicates the bird is sitting is sufficient.
Take Rook for instance. Birds are now sitting on eggs and they'll be easy to confirm as ON over the next week before the already sprouting tree leaves make them less visible. Rookeries are easy to spot driving around. Over the last week I've cleaned up on Rooks in East Lincs confirming them in the last 3 missing squares TF44 Benington Seas End, TF55 East Wainfleet and TF58 Trusthorpe. Please check if they are missing in your square by looking at "Any square summary" and if they are get them now.
Several other species will be on the nest in the next couple of weeks including Mute Swan, Lapwing, Long tailed Tit, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Magpie. You might think these birds should be confirmed in every square in Lincs but they aren't yet so please check. Some species can be difficult to find on the nest but if you see them displaying now eg Lapwings ( code D, probable breeding)) note their location and keep checking for further evidence as summer progresses. Then look out for chicks in June (code FL, confirmed).
The easiest confirmation for Thrushes is carrying food to a probable nest site (code FF). Mistle Thrushes tend to fledge in early May so try not to miss them feeding. Song Thrushes have a longer season giving more opportunity to see them. At the moment in East Lincs we have Mistle Thrush unconfirmed in 3 squares, TF35 north of Boston, TF47 Alford and TF56 Skegness. Song Thrush is missing from TF58 Mablethorpe but someone has a stake out with a territorial bird in their back garden so fingers crossed.
It can be a lot of fun, absorbing and deepen your interest in birds to observe their breeding behaviour so please get stuck in and enjoy it. You can do it in your garden, town/village, local 10k square or anywhere in Lincs or the UK and Ireland. If you are going away for Easter think about checking your holiday square as you may well be able to add valuable records, particularly in remoter regions.