Feeding Time

I spent an hour watching the treecreepers feeding their chicks today and in that hour they brought food 30 times. So if they start feeding at say 6am and feed till 6pm that’s 360 food trips every day. If they have 6 chicks thats 60 feeds per chick every day for the 20 days till they fledge!!!!
And we think one trip to the supermarket a week is a pain!
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Watching Treecreepers

Last year whilst watching the woodpeckers nesting I noticed lots of treecreepers flitting around and I decided that this year I would try and find a treecreeper nest to watch. It took me a little while but not only did I find an active one I also watched another being built.

When people ask me what I’m photographing and I tell them, almost everyone says they’ve never seen a treecreeper. But they’re not as rare as you think, they’re just incredibly hard to spot. About the size of a wren with a long tail and down curved bill they are perfectly camouflaged for life in a wood blending perfectly against the trunk of the trees.

Treecreeper nest building

Treecreeper nest building

When it comes to building a nest they don’t take the easy option and head for a knothole in a tree but they look for a flap of bark with room behind to build the nest. The nest is built with twigs and wood chip as in this picture and is then lined with moss, lichen, hair and feathers and takes around a week to complete.

Treecreeper with nest lining

Treecreeper with nest lining

As they can lay between 5 and 6 eggs the nest area will tend to have a seperate entrance and exit as the nest space will become crowded as the chicks hatch and grow.

A week later and it would seem the eggs have been laid as one bird was flying back with food and feeding it to the sitting bird who would emerge to take the food.

Treecreeper with food.

Treecreeper with food.

The nesting bird would open its mouth to be fed before then flying off and leaving the other bird to take over sitting on the nest.

Treecreepers feeding each other

Treecreepers feeding each other

The second nest I found obviously had chicks, as the parents were constantly in and out with beaks full of insects. They flew in at one end of the hanging bark and emerged from the other usually depositing faecal sacks before heading off to forage more food.

Treecreeper removing faecal sack

Treecreeper removing faecal sack

The faecal sack is a mucous covering around the chicks waste which allows the parents to easily remove it from the nest and keep the nest area clean. They were delivering a wide array of different insects to the chicks.

Treecreeper delivering food

Treecreeper delivering food.

This nest must have been very close to fledging as a couple of days later when I returned there was no sign of any activity, which after the constant delivery of food earlier suggests the young had successfully left the nest. The second nest is now the focus of my attention hopefully to see lots of food deliveries, and fingers crossed the fledging of the chicks.

Treecreepers at nest site

Treecreepers at nest site

Another Nemesis Ticked Off

I seem to have a habit of spotting a bird or animal and then fixating on it till I get a decent shot. Is it just me or do all wildlife photographers behave like this. It’s like having a different nemesis every week.

The treecreeper has been one of these elusive species for awhile now but spending more time in woodland rather than the banks of rivers does increase the chances of seeing them. They have amazing camouflage and blend in brilliantly with the trunks of trees on which they search for food. They have a slender down turned beak with which they probe the bark for small insects and spiders and on a couple of my pictures they seem to have a long tongue which will help wheedle out their prey.. They fly to the bottom of a tree and ascend on a circular route before flying down to the base of the next tree. They have long curved claws to help them climb and rise the tree in small hops.

From watching them recently they seem to have a number of trees they visit in turn so if you spot one hang around and see what their route is.1g1c