Report for last week (29 May):
We closed our regular work days on a less than positive note. We found a Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) in box #77, so the second clutch of 2+ eggs that was started there was predated. We finally got access to wonky box #84: a Wood Duck flushed, but we found only 4 non-viable eggs, and we cleaned them out. As for box #61, we did get a hatch, but only evidence of that 1 duckling fledged; I am writing this one up as partially predated.
However, the books are not completely closed for the season. Box #1 (the one leaning over in the new pool by the tower) has a second Wood Duck clutch of 10 eggs going. Estimating that incubation began on 21 May, then hatch is expected about 19 June. Kat will check that one as a one-off on a time-available basis.
With so many boxes in use, and one clear dump nest, it’s not surprising that we had more than our usual number of abandoned/failed nests. What is a little surprising is the level of predation by Black Ratsnakes: visual observations at 2 boxes, and indirect evidence at a third. I suspect that one or more snakes have found a way to slip past the predator cones, perhaps exploiting the gaps where the cone is attached. We may want to explore a means of sealing those gaps.
So that’s it for scheduled work days — thanks for all your help, and we’ll see you next year. I’ll prepare final reports after all the numbers come in.