2 October 2017
Well here they are, Class 1 and probably the best class Ive ever worked with. Every child was so enthusiastic with my Project I ended up working an extra 3 days.
This was the magic moment I was given a stunning box of cup cakes as a present for my birthday by one of the children. Each cup cake had a picture of a garden bird that we as a class had talked about the week before. I was totally blown away at the sheer generosity shown by these fantastic children and of course the childrens parents.
As if that wasn`t enough I also received numerous birthday and thank you cards with one big thank you card made by the children.
10th June 2017
Below I have uploaded 2 youtube videos of our ringing session. We managed to ring 50 chicks and trapped 6 Adults 2 of which are returning adults that we ringed 2 years ago. Onother 2 of the ringed adults were not one of ours and was probably ringed by another local ringer. Gareth will update me when he can and I will let everyone know where this particular adult is from.
9th June 2017
6th June 2017
Today I had a wonderful experience spent at Padre Pio RC Catholic school in Pontypool. I am contracted to work with the Year1 class every Tuesday until the class finished their projects.
It is a pleasure to work alongside some amazing staff at this school and in such a lovely school building nice and spacious with a modern contemporary feel to it. The school benefits from a new building with plenty of outside grounds for the children to play and particpate in outdoor activities. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to returning on Tuesday.
4th June 2017
Just thought I would share a few images of some of my Nest Box sites. All my sites are stunning Rural Wales in full splendour at the moment with Bluebell and Wild fox gloves galore. I always mention how fortunate I am to be brought up in such beautiful surroundings and Gwent certainly is just that.
30 th May 2017
A big shout out to my good friend Phil Crocker who kindly donated numerous boxes of screws to my Project. Once again I am humbled by the generosity of friends, family and strangers or at least friends now.
My plan is to construct over 100 nest boxes over the next few months. I have two or three new sites I have permission to erect nest boxes but I also need to replace numerous nest boxes that are in desperate need of replacement.
If you are aware of any companies or organisations who are able to donate materials like roofing felt, screws, glue, ply and wood then please do not hesitate to contact me. I am a dab hand at making use of most materials donated.
27 May 2017
Thankfully my concerns were put to rest today with a cracking result in Pied Flycatcher nests. It looks like last years total number has been eclipsed by 2 with a fantastic number of 22 Pied Flycatcher females sat on eggs and one of Pair feeding chicks. 23 in total but nthat may still rise as I still have 2 full nests with no eggs at the moment.
I have to say that I am so relieved because I thought I had lost half of my Pairs from last year after checking on several sites which contained the better numbers from last year. For some strange reason it looks as though 6 Pairs have decided to nest further up the valley. Or I have lost 6 Pairs and these are returning chicks from last season which is a possibility. I wont know until I starting trapping and ringing in a few weeks. That is if I can find a ringer.
12 May 2017
Well I must admit to being somewhat concerned over the past two weeks or so due to the lack of returning Pied Flycatcher numbers. This time last year we had amazing Pied Flycatcher numbers at all my nest box sites. With returning ringed chicks starting their own families also which is most rewarding.
Last year we managed to ring most of the 21 nest boxes with PF chicks inside with the added bonus of trapping a few adults also. All data was taken and forwarded to The Brittish Trust of Ornithology including the trapped adult data.
After looking at the images above and below I keep telling myself despite the time and effort and finances I put into my project seeing the end product makes it all so worth while.I do have to mention my sponsors like Davies Timbers of Cwmbran and Stately Albion of Abercarn because without them I simply would not be able to afford all the materials I am supplied with.
Of course it still adds up by the time you purchase diesel, Nails, glue, screws and other bits and pieces. I have recently purchased a Fiat Diablo to help me to pick up materials. Best thing I have done for a while is purchasing this vehicle because I was abusing my wifes car which is not what I wanted to continue doing due to this being our family car. Image below shows my utility vehicle with my son in the driving seat. He absolutely loves driving it and woukld love to use it to get back and four work being an apprentice joiner.
Pied Flycatchers, like Blue Tits and Great Tits, breed in nest boxes at high densities which enables large numbers to be monitored, so making them good model systems for all manner of studies. But an important difference between tits and flycatchers is that flycatchers migrate.
Despite knowing a huge amount about Pied Flycatcher breeding ecology, we actually know little about their migration timings, migration routes or the locations of their African non-breeding grounds. This is important to find out, as the UK population has declined by 53% since 1995.
In the UK there is little evidence that declines are strongly linked to factors affecting them on their breeding grounds. Availability and quality of western oakwoods is largely unchanged, although it is possible that timing of breeding has become increasingly mismatched with prey availability as warmer and advanced springs result in earlier availability of invertebrate food. Such a phenological mismatch has been linked to European Pied Flycatcher declines although UK data suggests some adaptation, with advances in egg laying date at the same time as relatively unchanged productivity. Although these factors may play some role, it seems likely that other important pinch points exist outside of the breeding season.
01 May 2017
Anyone who monitors nest boxes will be well aware what species of bird makes its nest inside a nest box like the image opposite. Nuthatches spend days sticking mud around the entrance hole to all nest boxes they occupy. I love watching these little guys when they start to prepare their nesting sites. They are right little characters and a joy to watch and have inside my nest boxes. I am lucky enough to have at least one pair of Nuthatches at each of my nest box sites dotted about Torfaen and Monmouthshire.
It is a resident bird of deciduous woods and parkland, with some old trees for nesting. It feeds on insects, seeds and nuts. Its old name nut-hack derives from its habit of wedging a nut in a crevice in a tree, and then hacking at it with its strong bill. It has the ability, like other nuthatches, to climb down trees, unlike species such as woodpeckers which can only go upwards. It will come to bird feeding tables, and is then very aggressive, driving other species away.
Nests are in holes or crevices, lined with bark or grass. The size of the hole entrance may be reduced by the building of a neat mud wall. Five to eight eggs are laid, white speckled with red. Nuthatches are omnivorous, eating mostly insects, nuts and seeds. They forage for insects hidden in or under bark by climbing along tree trunks and branches, sometimes upside down. They forage within their territories when breeding, but may join mixed feeding flocks at other times. Their habit of wedging a large food item in a crevice and then hacking at it with their strong bills gives this group its English name. This is a noisy bird, often located by its repeated tui-tui-tui call.
So the image to the left is a Female Nuthatch sat incubating 8 beautiful eggs. As I write this most of those eggs are probably hatched and I shall be checking the nest box later this week.
The name nuthatch is derived from nut hacker, reflecting the bird's method of opening up nuts by jamming them into a crevice then hammering at them.
Old country names include mud dabbler and mud stopper, both of which note the bird's curious habit of plastering mud around the entrance hole to its nest.
Unlike the treecreeper, which only moves up the trunk of a tree, nuthatches will move both up and down.
Once a bird restricted largely to south-eastern England, the 20th century witnessed a spread to the north, with breeding in Scotland first confirmed in 1989.
Studies have shown that large gardens with oak trees provide the optimum habitat for this species.
27 April 2017
My first eggs laid this year was from a Pair of Tawny Owls although Iv`e not checked on all my Tawny Owl nest boxes due to not being able to climb ladders. Images below where taken by a good friend who monitors some of my nest boxes throughout his locality.
The tawny owl is one of the most common owls in Britain, with a population of about 20,000 breeding pairs. It is able to live in a wide variety of habitats. Despite this,because it is nocturnal, it is rarely seen. Most often, we only know of its presence by the familiar deep ‘tu-woo’ or ‘kee-wick’ most commonly heard about two hours after sunset in late autumn or winter.
The tawny owl is 37 - 39cm long, with a rounded head, body and wings. It has large brown eyes, with its face surrounded by a ring of dark feathers. Its upper parts are usually reddish
brown, with a line of dark and light patches on its wings and crown of the head. The under parts are yellowish-beige and often streaked.
The tawny owl lives in woodlands, wooded farmland and parkland. It can also be found in towns where there are large trees, such as in parks and churchyards. Due to it being nocturnal and it having a well camoufl aged brown body, it is very difficult to spot. Sometimes it can be seen in daylight, but only when it is disturbed. If this does happen, its presence is often revealed by the mob of small birds which are harassing it.
Did you know?
Tawny owls have permanent territories which they patrol very conscientiously and appear to know very well. Within their territory their roosting place is regularly changed.
In urban areas, tawny owls prey mainly on birds such as sparrows, thrushes, blackbirds and starlings. Rodents make up only about 7% of the urban owl’s total diet. In the countryside the owls eat few birds.
The hunting methods of city and country owls also vary: in city areas, small birds are snatched from their roosts. Places like roofs and
telegraph poles are used as vantage points to hunt from. Countryside owls usually perch close to the ground and wait for their prey to appear, then pounce.
The tawny owl’s feathers have a velvety pile and fine fringe that help to reduce the noise of the wings when fl ying, so the owl can approach its prey as quietly as possible. When hunting, tawny owls rely heavily upon their sight and hearing and use their talons only during the attack.
In the breeding season tawny owls nest in tree cavities, old crows’ nests, squirrel dreys and nest boxes; only when these are not available it will nest on the ground. The tawny owl lays 2-3 large, white, round eggs in late February or March and incubates them for 28-30 days. The young tend to leave the nest about 4 weeks after hatching, but are still dependent on their parents for 2-3 months afterwards, and sometimes on into autumn. Often, only 1 or 2 owlets per pair reach adulthood.
21 April 2017
As you can see in the images below I am always building or repairing nest boxes throughout the year. I still have 7 year old nest boxes in situe and only showing slight signs of wear and tear. That is a testament to the materials I use especially the coat of Sandtex masonry Paint which has proved to be an excellent final coat to protect against the adverse weather conditions we face in this part of the world.
I would strongly recommend Sandtex Masonry paint to any nest box builder and any builder or painter and Decorator due to its quailty performance. Note; I only use paint on the outside of all my nest boxes, I never paint inside.
15 April 2017
It was so good to have my youngest son accompany me today maintaining and replacing several nest boxes that have passed their sell by date. These replaced nest boxes have been in situe for at least 7 years which is pretty good considering the location that they have been sited.
Ieuan is an apprentice Joiner/Carpenter at the moment so is pretty handy with power and hand tools so obviously his help is so much appreciated. These new nest boxes are made from 3/4 inch pieces of sawn pine wood and covered in concrete. They also have two coats of Santex masonry paint finished off with metal plates around the entrance hole. These shouls last the test of time if I give them a lick of masonry paint every year.
1 March 2017
Well it seems like I have been away for a long time and my last update was June 2016. Apologies to my regular readers but I have been busy with other projects. Today I finished off constructing a few Starling boxes for a lady in Blaenavon (local village). I was unable to erect them for her so from what I can gather a member of her family will erect them very soon. This particular lady purchased a couple of Swift nest boxes 2 years ago but instead of attracting Swifts she was lucky enough to be rewarded with 2 Pairs of Starlings one in each nest box.
One of our brilliant Brecon Beacons Park Wardens. We managed to ring about 30 chicks that year but no adults. The following year (last year) I managed to photograph an Adult female who had returned on her Migratory route from Mid Africa to return to the same Woodland she was born in. What was so amazing for this Super mum was she managed a clutch of 8 chicks in her first breeding season.
12 Mehefin 12 June 2016
What an amazing day today turned out to be in terms of some really useful data collected for the British Trust of Ornithology. As the images suggest today was Ringing my chicks day although we also trapped nine adult birds with two adult females giving us some great data.
Two years ago I was able to ring my chicks for the first time. This was done with the help of Steve Smith who is
So you can imagine my excitement as two years on and we managed to trap her successfully and ring her second year clutch of, yes you guessed it 8 chicks. Pied`s can lay anything from 4-8 eggs so a return of 16 eggs in two years is a pretty amazing feat for any bird but especially a tiny migrant that had travelled literally thousands of miles to do so. Did I ever mention that I have fallen in love with this remarkable little bird ;-)
So here she is "Super Mum" shown above right and right. A remarkable little bird and the mother of 16 children ;-)
Obviously we cannot say for sure whether or not the male is the same male as last year she mated with but on examination after trapping he was also a young male and it may have been born the same year as her.
He was trapped and fitted with a ring this year so it would be very interesting to see if indeed he did return and breed with her again next year. One thing is for sure I have already pencilled in to spend an entire day ringing all my chicks and possibly most adults too. Im already excited with the prospect of a bumper breeding season next year with higher chick numbers and more ringed chicks and adults. Hopefully ring all my Redstart and Nuthatch chicks in the process.
Note the two prominent white spots on the males forehead. This is what attracts the females to the males and the bigger the spots the more a male appeals to the female.
10 Mehfin 10 June 2016
Today was my penultimate day spent at Blenheim Road Community School and I must say I will really miss these lovely children. Their Class Teacher and my very good friend Mrs Marie Galeozzi contacts me every year to work alongside her new Reception Class. I always enjoy my visiit to this fab school and I have recently started work there running an after school club. As you can see in the images below the children have constructed their own nest boxes and they have finished them off by painting them green.
8 Mehefin 8June 2016
Hi to all my viewers. I need help in identifying these Bumble Bees who have taken up residence in several of my nest boxes. I don`t mind these beautiful little insects and I know these will certainly help by Pollinating plants and flowers. Fruit farmers especially as they really do rely on Pollinating insects.
In future I may leave cleaning out some of my nest boxes in order to maybe attract a few Bumble Bee colonies. They seem to like using the old nesting material to burrow underneath in order to make their own nests.
7 Mehefin 7 June 2016
Image to my left shows a tiny Wrens egg inside a beautiful little Wrens ball shaped nest which was constructed inside one of my Redstart nest boxes. I must admit I was slightly confused as to which species might have built this little nest although I did wonder whether or not it was a Wren. Anyway to cut a long story short so to speak a good friend and fellow nest boxer Gary Pitt confirmed it was a Wren. Gary has also got alarge number of pied Flycatchers nesting in his nest boxes and a couple of Wrens too.
It was really rewarding to see another species of bird using my nest boxes although it was slightly disappointing seeing this particular nest box taken by a non targeted species. This particular nest box was erect for a Pair of Redstarts at a location where I have been successful in the past with several pairs of Redstarts. These stunning little Migrants are one of my main Target species and especially at this site. Their number have declined dramatically across Europe over the past 25 years from serious droughts in Africa to agressive farming techniques in parts of Europe.
5 Mehefin 5 June 2016
My friend Paul Thomas and I were busy out checking on mainly my Pied Flycatcher nest boxes although we did check on a Tawny Owl and Little Owl nest box at the same time. The Tawnny Owl box showed signs of qa successful clutch this year although we were a few days short of seeing the Tawny chicks.
My Pied Flycatcher counts for this year is once again looking very positive with the possibility of 21 active nests. Unfortunately there is one predation which could have been 22 successful clutches. Below are a few images of my Pied chicks
30 Mai 30 May 2016
Today I was accompanied by my son and his girlfriend whilst out checking on a few of my nest box routes. My sons girlfriend was really looking forward to seeing little chicks and eggs and she was not disappointed.
I decided to post some of todays images as large as I could for you all to have a close up look at these fabulous little Pied Flycatcher females, eggs and chicks. There are a few Redstart chicks thrown in as well.
So in total we noted 11 Pied Flycatcher nests with either eggs or chicks with another 3 Redstart nests with chicks present. This is only 3 nest box routes and I still have numerous routes to check on which I will do so with one of my old school friends later this week. I predict more than 20 Pied Flycatcher nests this breeding season which hopefully will surpass last seasons results.
Above image shows a clutch of 6 Pied Flycatcher eggs
Above image is an old Blue tits nest taken over by a pair of Redstarts with 4 Redstart chicks out of a clutch of 6
Above image shows 2 remaining Nuthatch chicks out of a clutch of 8 eggs.
Image to the left shows a female Blue tit sat on 9 chicks and the image below shows a beautiful female Pied Flycatcher sat on 8 eggs which is a large clutch for a Pied Flycatcher. A common clutch for a Pied Flycatcher is usually 6 eggs. Note the orange string used for nesting material
19 Mai 19 May 2016
Thought I would upload a couple of video`s and some images of my students at Coed Eva School After School Club. This really is such an enjoyable club spent with some wonderful children.
17 Mai 17 May 2016
So then here it is then the excitement has been a long time coming and I can now reveal images of my first Pied Flycatcher eggs. So below shows a 3 and 4 clutch of eggs and at present I have only taken photo`s from one of my Pied Fly sites. I am resonably confident I will reach last years target of 20 PF nests and with fingers crossed maybe more this year.
Image to the left is of a Female Pied Flycatcher sat on eggs and probably the most advanced of this years clutches so far. I still have Pieds building which is in complete contrast to this clutch however I have noticed that this years bulk of Females arrived slightly later than last year and more than likely due to the Nothern flow wind direction which affected the UK over late April early May.
I shall be out monitoring and checking on other sites over the next couple of days so will hopefully have a better understanding of the overall picture for this seasons breeding season. These days I have to rely on volunteers to help out as I can no longer climb ladders.
Image above shows my first Song Thrush eggs of 2016 Image above shows a healthy size Great Tit clutch
12 Mai 12 May 2016
Well as you can probably make out with the images below my humble little Pied Flycatchers have returned and the good news is they are back in good numbers. I did spot a few male two weeks earlier to this post although thought I would hold off reporting until the females arrived also. The pied flycatcher to me is a very special bird that never fails to increase my pulse rate.It is a migrant species visiting Britain between May and August and can be found in gardens but only if you live in the right area and habitat.
As its name suggests, the male pied flycatcher is black and white though the female’s plumage combines grey-brown and white. In common with most other birds there is an element of the male’s plumage which makes him more successful in finding a mate. In the case of the male pied flycatcher it is the size of the white patch on his forehead which makes him irresistible to the ladies but research has shown that good looks are not necessarily an advantage.
The good looking males, which have larger areas of white on their foreheads, are more frequently tempted to 'play away' by females attracted to them, as a result, these males have more offspring to provide for and so, ironically, they have less chance of surviving.
The pied flycatcher catches more than just flies; it will take any insects in flight including butterflies. To do this, it has exceptionally quick responses and an agile flight. Like all flycatchers it has favoured perches from which to launch assaults on the swarms of midges and flies in its chosen habitat.
Pied flycatchers live almost exclusively in and around oak trees, usually showing a preference for relatively dense areas of woodland. They are most common in Wales, Western and Northern England and parts of Scotland. Fortunately this is one species of bird which is on the increase; its range is expanding, albeit fairly slowly, from its historic strongholds into new areas.
One reason for this success is the willingness of pied flycatchers to adopt artificial nest sites. In the wild their nests are made in tree-holes but nest boxes designed for tits will suffice. Their only problem is that most nest boxes are already occupied by resident tits by the time they arrive back in this country. So if you want to try to attract pied flycatchers you have to put up more nest boxes than can be filled by your local tit families.
It’s too late to attract them for this year, but if you live in an area of the country close to where pied flycatchers are currently found and have some oak trees around your garden then put up some nest boxes now ready for next year. Birds being born this year will have a look for nest sites before leaving for Africa in late summer.
6 Mai 6 May 2016
First time out checking on my mainly Pied Flycatcher nest boxes with a few Redstart on the same route. I have also one Tawny Owl nest box on this particular route. It really was one of those very rare days when Bird song and number of species were in abundance. The best part though was sharing this exerience with an old Junior School friend. Paul Thomas was a year younger than me in Junior school and I don`t think we really bothered with one another that much although we both grew up in the same little village.
So it was nice to catch up with Paul and basically show him "my world", so to speak. We really had a very productive day and I was able to show Paul Nuthatch sat one eggs, Great tit sat on Eggs, Blue tit on eggs, A Blackbird nest with 2 eggs, The start of a Pied Flycatcher nest and two beautiful fluffy Tawny Owl chicks which really made Paul`s day.
It was so nice to make a return visit to Blenheim Road Primary Schoo a school that I have been working with for around four years now. Blenheim road primary in Cwmbran is a charming school that is going through a rebuild at the moment ehich means the Junior and Infants school are all in one of the old buildings while construction continues on the new build.
As you can imaging space in the school is pretty much non existant although fair play to all the Teachers they have done a marvellous job temporary rehoming pupils for the short term whilst awaiting a new school to move into. This visit I am working with year 1 pupils educating them on local birdlife and constructing nest boxes.
2 Mai 2May 2016
25 Ebrill 25 April 2016
Whilst out fishing today I noticed a Female Blackbird enter a bush directly behind where I was sat fishing. I was so focused on my fishing because it was a match and had to wait until the match had finished before I could check this bush out.
So on inspection I found my first Blackbird nest of 2016. Yet another neat nest situated about 2 foot off the ground and in a fork of the shrub.
19 Ebrill 19 April 2016
Yesterday`s weather was cloudy and about 11 degrees in temperature. Compared to this time last year and temperatures of 22 degrees I was somewhat surprised to discover 4 Great Tit eggs in one of my nest boxes. This was even more of a shock due to it`s location and situated at one of my Upper Upland sites where most of my Pied and Redstart nest boxes are.
Temperatures at my Upland sites can be anything up to 6 degrees different from the valley below that is the stark reality. I would say recent temperatures range from 11 degrees in the day to -3 degrees at night which is why it was a complete surprise.
18 Ebrill 18 April 2016
Today was the first day out monitoring of 2016. I was accompanied by an old junior school friend Paul Thomas. Paul and I had not come into contact since junior school and well over 30 years have passed since then. However we have been in touch via social media over the past couple of years.
Due to ongoing health issues and other committements I have been unable to clean out any nest boxes this year although I have managed most of my Pied and Redstart routes which is really important. My main aim of 2016 is to surpass 20 Pied Flycatcher nests of 2015.
I am fairly confident this is achieveable given the previous years success. However I did have a bit of a setback today after checking inside one of my nestboxes. Unfortunately , and a massive error on my part because I had failed to drill drainage holes in the bases of certain nestboxes Paul and I came across this poor chap opposite. This is a male Pied Flycatcher which must have checked out a nest box which for some strange reason had an inch of water collected inside. He must have landed in the water and drenched all his primary feathers and was unable to fly out from the nestbox.
I must admit I feel so damn guilty especially as this little guy had just completed a few thousands migratory miles back to Wales and to its birthplace to breed and raise another brood of Pieds.
One thing is for certaqin Paul and I have inked into to our diaries for next week with a Cordless drill in tow. I will make sure I won`t make the same mistake ever again. This is a massive kick up the butt not to cut anymore corners and I call upon the Pied Flycatcher gods wherever they may be for forgiveness.
22 March 2016
My good friend Nicky Robinson has been so lucky to have these stunning birds frequent his garden over the past few months and below show some of the female birds he has photographed.Bramblings do not arrive in the UK until late September and most have gone again by late March. Their numbers fluctuate year to year depending on the availability of beech mast in Finland, Scandinavia and Russia where they breed. Therefore, some years we may only see 50,000 birds in total and in other years there can be up to 2 million.
During the autumn and winter bramblings gather in large flocks in areas with plenty of beech mast or conifer seeds, and are often seen alongside chaffinches. They will remain in these areas until the food has run out or is covered with snow, and then they will move south again. It is at this point that they will start to move into gardens, taking advantage of the bird food that we provide.
Although most gardens are only ever visited by a small number of bramblings, in winters where they are more common it is possible to try and attract more in. Bramblings prefer to feed on the ground, so seed mixes or peanut granules should be spread on the ground or a low bird table. Having tall trees in or around the garden may also help to draw them in.
Like many bird species during the winter, bramblings may join up to form large roosts in the evening. In central Europe these can be made up of many millions of birds but in Britain they’re much smaller as fewer individuals come here to overwinter. However, one roost in Merseyside was estimated to contain more than 150,000 birds.
Interestingly, male bramblings tend to winter further north than females, a behaviour also seen in chaffinches. Therefore winter flocks may be formed of birds that are mainly one sex. Young birds also tend to winter further south than adults. This is known as differential migration and probably results from competition for food in winter.
Bramblings of all ages have a white rump which is very useful for telling them apart from chaffinches. They also all have orange-brown shoulders, though these are more obvious in males. In the winter, the glossy black head of the male is obscured by buff-tips to the feathers, but this still helps to tell them apart from the females which have grey-brown heads.
3rd March 2016
A massive thank you to Stately Albion of Abercarn for once again supplying me with free materials to carry on with maintenance work on my nest box colonies. With out these guys it would certainly not be possible to operate in such a successful way.
Pictured left is Clive Gadd (Health and Safety Officer) and my contact within Stately Albion.
Pictured below is some of the Trades actively finishing off on the Assembly Line.
I had a local farmer contact me recently requesting a Barn Owl nest box. Apparently one of his out buildings which is now residential has Barn Owls nesting inside the attic and are keeping the residents awake at night.
The nest box will be fitted on the outside wall of this buliding and with a Schedule 1 Licence holder present.However if there are signs that the Barn Owl pair have already started breeding then the planned erection of the Barn Owl nestbox will be delayed.
16Chwefror/ 16February 2016
As you can probably make out in the images I have been rather busy today ripping down 8x4 sheets of half inch marine ply. This actually took me all day to complete and I had to finish the last cuts almost in total darkness.
All this work and effort put in is always for a worthy cause and this load was no exception. My dear friend Marie Galeozzi is a Primary School teacher at Blenheim Road Primary School in Cwmbran. Every year around about this time of year Marie invites me into school to work with and educate her new class of year 1 pupils.
The workshop consists of 6 afternoon sessions where I start off by talking to the children and educating them about local birdlife along with birds that are in serious decline. This I find very important with the aim of hopefully planting a conservation seed into a few of the children. The children then construct nest boxes to take home with a few extra boxes made for the school grounds.
21 Lonawr/ 21January 2016
Bat boxes are artificial roosts designed to encourage bats into areas where there are few roosting sites. There are various designs of bat box from wooden boxes you can make yourself to ready-assembled boxesand even integrated bat boxes that can be built into walls. Different bat species need different spaces.
Bats do not like draughts, and prefer well insulated boxes where temperature and humidity remain constant. They also need a rough textured wood to cling to. The wood should not be treated because bats are very sensitive to chemicals. A ‘bat ladder’ or other landing area that leads to an entry slit wide enough to admit bats, but narrow enough to keep out predators is also essential, usually 15 – 20 mm. Once up, a bat box cannot be opened legally without a licence.
Boxes are more likely to be used if they are located where bats are known to feed. Ideally, several boxes should be put up facing in different directions to provide a range of conditions. Boxes should be put as high as possible in sheltered sunny places. On buildings, boxes should be placed as close to the eaves as possible.Some bats use a tree line or hedgerow for navigation. Putting boxes near these features may help the bats find the box.
Bats need time to find and explore new homes, and it may be several years before boxes have residents – be patient! Droppings on the landing area, urine stains around the lower parts of the box and chittering noises from inside on warm afternoons and evenings are signs of occupation.
Above images show different stages of construction of a Bat Nesting Box. A local farmer has requested 3 destined for his land. Farmers are able to apply for Government grants if they can provide evidence of wildlife conservation. Image to the right show a finished nest box in situe
11 Lonawr/ 11 January 2016
I awoke on New Years Day to hear some devastating news. A group of youths stupidly and selfishy set alight the Coed Eva School Nursery and Infants building and as you can see totally destroyed the building to the ground.
The only positive is knowing that the School Head and staff are a resilient group of individuals and I know that every effort will be put in place to re-house the children and carry on as normal. I hope that those who were responsible feel the full force of the law and brought to justice.
2 Ionawr/2 January 2016
Well what can I say, a 5 month lay off from my Field work although I have continued with my school visits and after school club at Coed Eva Primary school. Following the 2015 season I was in a lot of pain with me knee and especially my back so I thought a lengthy lay off would do it. I also realised that golf was now out of the question with a worsening situation with my back. During this layoff I started to go fishing again, and really enjoyed myself and I started to think that I might take this up as my main hobby as I once did around 20+ years ago.
So that is what has happened up until now and now we start 2016. I will still be concentrating on my Pied Flycatcher and Redstart nest boxes whilst erecting as many Barn Owl nest boxes as I can. Nest boxes below are a few that I have made for family and friends made out of the inner cardboard tubes of rolls of carpet.