Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Bird Box Frenzy!

Before October I started making Bird boxes for garden birds and raptors to add to my Nest recording in the summer for the BTO's Nest record Scheme. If like me you are a young birder, I would really recommend taking part in this. It's a brilliant way to interact with nature, to learn about the behaviour of birds and their nesting behaviour and to help the BTO learn more about the patterns of brood size, nest success. Also with temperatures rising causing mismatches between birds nesting and the abundance of food the timings of nests are becoming crucial to discover what affect global warming may be having on birds nesting.

Having made nearly 100 Passerine bird boxes and 5 raptor boxes I started putting them up around January . I started by putting up 20 in the nearest site on the top of Folly hill (a 2 minute cycle ride away). The main target species are Great tits, Blue tits and with a chance of Coal tits and if I'm really lucky, Nuthatches. For the Blue tits and Great tits I put the Bird boxes in the normal sites on trees around 4m up with a bit of cover or foliage near by. For the Coal tits I tried to put them in denser coniferous areas with slightly more vegetation in front and higher up. There's also several Robin nest boxes that instead of encouraging Robins got a Spotted Flycatcher nesting in one last year which will hopefully nest again this year.

The next site is a small area that I've been lightly managing and putting bird feeders up. I've put 8 boxes there all for Blue tits and Great tits. I've also been placing them around my village for House Sparrows which will be my main interest. There are several flocks of around 50 that move around 5 or 6 main areas of hedgerow that they're going in. To encourage them in, the boxes are in groups of at least 5.

The final site is the largest in Nuneham Courtney near Oxford where I'm putting 40, again for the same target species as the Folly. There are several types of habitat including, coppice, Arboretum plantation, oak and native woodland, coniferous wood and a Lime Wood. I'm also putting up 4 Tawny Owl boxes, a Little Owl box and eventually a Barn Owl box. I really can't wait to see if they are used so I can monitor them for the Nest Record Scheme and maybe ask my ringing trainer to come round and ring.

Through the spring and summer I'll check the ones near me and in my village every weekend along with open nests, and the ones near Oxford every week to a fortnight. every time I'll note the building, incubation or young stage of the nests. Hopefully I can get my Ringing trainer to come over to ring the Spotted Flycatchers and any interesting bird box nests like Nuthatches. Along with them there are the raptor boxes for the owls but also Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Red Kite and Kestrel open nests to monitor and maybe ring.