28 June 2019

Every now and then I come across some truly inspirational people. People who have gone above and beyond to unselfishly help our wildlife. Our wildlife certainly needs all the help it can get with new build developments popping up all over Wales and in particular on my doorstep. 

At present we have a new state of the art hospital, huge new secondary school and a sixth form block all being built in Cwmbran. Just up the road in Sebastapool is a huge housing development with over 1000 new houses being built. However the developers have totally disrespected the natural area by not including Hedgehog highways, Bat, swift bricks or House Martin clusters. As long as there is a huge profit and the CEO`s just about manage to feed their families then all is well. This particular lady has worked with a group who rescue hedgehogs. The image opposite is a hedgehog who is using one of her nest boxes. 

28 Mai/May 2019

I was so relieved to find that two pairs of Redstarts had returned to my Redstart/Pied Fly site. Disastrously following the 2016 season when I had 6 Pairs of Redstart. Its a complete mystery how I lost 6 pairs for 3 years.

Anyway that is for the history books Im just so relieved that I now have 2 Pairs of this magnificent bird nesting back where they belong here in Wales. Hopefully they will have a healthy clutch each so the offspring can return next year and also start the cycle of life themselves.

female redstart.jpg
May 27 2019

To raise money for my project I get pallets from a friend and turn them into things. My friend Lisa asked me to make her a kennel for her beautiful Labrador. So i broke down several pallets and over laped them to make the kennel waterproof. This is Indian hard wood so will take a while to rot. Lisa could paint or stain it at a later date.


The European Pied Flycatcher feeds mainly on insects caught from a perch. The bird hovers and captures the prey in flight or on the ground after a light dive. During the nesting period, it favours the caterpillars to feed the young. 
It gleans among leaves, but also on tree-trunks and branches, and on the ground where it takes non-flying preys such as caterpillars and some earthworms. It also consumes snails and may occasionally hammer them on hard surface to break open the shell, as the Song Thrush.    
It also takes some plant matter such as fruit and berries, and seeds. It picks berries from the bushes while hovering.

5 Mai/ May 2019

Thought I would share my amazing encounter I had with 6 stunning little Fox Cubs. Mum and dad must have been out hunting and these brave little cubs decided to have a snoop just outside of the den hole.

5 Mai/May 2019

It was an amazing feeling when I found out that Redstarts had returned after a two year absence. The past two years have been considerably negative in terms of Redstart numbers. Last year I saw 1 male Redstart and thought that they had almost vanished from the area. But when I checked on my Pied Flycaycher nest box site I was so relieved to find 2 Redstart nests with one nest having eggs.

I am hoping that this will be a successful year for them and hopefully with good size clutches of 6-7 eggs in both nests would be great. I will make sure we ring these chicks along with my Pieds.

female redstart.jpg
4 Mai/ May 2019

Last years breeding season for me was a complete disaster. I only has 18 Pied Flycatcher pairs nesting and tragically 2 of them were predated by wood mice. We did manage to ring most of the chicks thought on a brighter note. But considering the year before I had 26 Pied Flycatcher pairs nesting, so with the two predated nests I was 10 nests down from the year before.

So that brings me to 2019 season. Whilst monitoring and looking for returning female Pied Flycatchers I can honestly say my heart sunk and I thought this season was going to repeat last years disaster. My first initial thoughts were that returning male numbers looked very good indeed and for a while I was hearing numerous single males singing away on trees with nest boxes on. So my first count was about 16 nests built or in the process and I thought well at least its not going to be any lower than last year.

So after leaving it for a couple of days I thought I would venture out and try and get a more accurate acount of numbers in total. What a magical day it turned out to be for me and a day I will probably remember for years to come. After monitoring all nest boxes in this particular area I counted 28 Pied Flycatcher nests either nearly finished, complete or with eggs in. The day got even better with the discovery of two Redstart nests in boxes which was amazing considering all my 6 pairs of Redstarts from a few years ago had completely disappeard.It was so exciting for me because I love this species an absolutley stunning bird. So I thought the day couldn`t possibly get any better but it did. On my way home I checked on my Pontypool nest box site which did have 2 Pairs of Pieds a few years ago. Cut a long story short Booom !!! 2 more Pied Fly nests. Total 30 nests.

twitter_image_Wed May 01 20~11~28 GMT+01
1 Mai/ May 2019

Unfortunately I recieved some devastating news today by my good friend and fellow project volunteer David Tew. David had been to check up on my nest box site up at Blaenbran Community Woodlands in Cwmbran. As you can see in the image opposite we had several nest boxes vandalised. This was not the first time unfortunately so its not classed as an isolated incident. Blaenbran is a beautiful part of our Borough of Torfaen and it used used daily by walkers, dog walkers, Mountain bikers, Scouts, cubs, Brownies and bird watchers. It basically caters for all. 

If i am being brutally honest i did think at the time of erecting them even at ladder height we might get one or two vandalised. So i have made the decision to remove all nest boxes at the end of the breeding season.

23 Mawrth/ March 2019

.We had a very productine day today by erecting 2 Barn Owl nest boxes. Our first nest box of the day was  in beautiful Bwlch which is set in the Brecon Beacons national park and near Brecon. Our second nest box was fitted on top of cut down conifer trees and situated just outside the beautiful town of Talgarth. I must mention my good friend Nathan Jones who gave up his Saturday to help me out. Nathan is a great person who never moans and just gets on the the task at hand.

Diolch yn fawr lawn Nath


2 Marwth/ March 2019

To help me take my mind of my little Owain I with the help of my friend Stuart Smallwood managed to erect this nice looking Barn Owl nest box on Stuarts land situated near beautiful Llandegfedd Reservoir in Monmouthshire. We know there are Barn Owls on the land because they are using an old Oak tree with a huge cavity, This cavity is starting to rot and thr roof of it has now got a hole in it. So we may have erect this nest box at the right time.

1 Mawrth/ March 2019

This morning my wife and I had to make that dreaded decision to have our beautiful Spaniel Owain put to sleep. It's the end of an era for us and especially for our children who grew up with two Springer Spaniels. Obviously we are all heartbroken and will need time to adjust without our boy. We take a little comfort knowing Owain had over 14 years of fun and happiness although we know it will never be the same without him. Fly high over rainbow bridge and run free of pain with Celsey beautiful boy

20 February 2019

I promised myself after falling out of a tree and knocking my head against the ground that I would never go alone when out nest boxing. I made that proimise to myself because after knocking my head that hard I actually blanked out for a few seconds. I`m fifty years of age with numerous ailments so I know I should take things a little slower. Unfortunately I have had problems recruiting volunteers as of late. Obviously we all have families and rightly so they should always come first. So I have not been able to get certain chores done. Not long until breeding season and I still need to replace about 30 nest boxes and I have about 8 Barn Owl boxes to erect.

26 Ionawr/ January 2019

Ive been refurbishing a friends table over the last week and its certainly been a challenge. Its painstakingly and laborious work with all legs having curves and patterns to sand and finish off with 4 coates of varnish.

23 Ionawr/ January 2019

Today I started working at one of my local schools in my home town of Pontypool. Padre Pio RC Primary school is one of my favourite schools I have had the pleasure to work in. This is my third year at the school each time working with year 1 pupils. I generally educate the children on local wildlife and in particular the plight of certain bird species like the House Sparrow and Starling. Part of my education workshop concentrates on the environment and pollution issues and the children are usually really engaged and enthusiastic. We finish off by building a Bird nestbox for the children to take home and erect in their gardens.

12 Lonawr/ January 2019

A huge thank you to my dear friend Kelli for helping me out on Friday. We managed to fit a Little Owl nest box and clean out and re-number about 40 nest boxes. I shall be driving next time though Kelli. ;-)

11 Lonawr/ January 2019

I managed to persuade an old friend of mine today to help me fit a Barn Owl nest box on to an old Oak tree in a village just down the road from our village. It was good to catch up with Cliff because I don"t get to see many of the lads in the village anymore. Obviously family is much more important than messing around erecting nest boxes although if you can get out and about every now and then it doesn`t do any harm. Thanks for your help today Cliff.

7 Lonawr/January 2019

Well as you can see the Barn Owl nest box build continues. Over the past 2 months I have completed 10 Barn Owl nest boxes along with another 40 tit boxes. Not sure if i can finish everything off with concrete as I normally do though. My good friend Clive Gadd has retired from Stately Albion the company who very kindly supply me with a special concrete and other materials. As it stands I have no point of contact at Stately Albion although I have emailed Yvonne one of the company directors asking if I can continue receiving offcuts of ply and other materials.

Yvonne has promised to get back to me with hopefully a new point of contact which will be great because I desperately need certain materials but expecially concrete. If this does not happen then I am going to work out what materials or paint I can use to waterproof all my nest boxes. I don`t get much paint donated so this potentially could cost me personally. Obviously I need to find a solution because my wife will be hoffified if I spend anymore money on my nest box conservation project.

2 Lonawr/January 2019
Exterior Barn Owl nest box

Exterior barn owl nestboxes can be fixed to trees or to the outside of buildings.

Where possible, they should face onto grassland and be reasonably conspicuous with an open flight path to them. They should not face into the prevailing wind.

Although barn owl nests are usually well spaced out, placing boxes in pairs, from twenty to a few hundred metres apart, will provide a pair with roosting as well as nesting sites. The male and female roost separately, and some pairs use different boxes in those good years when they can have two broods.

Since many barn owls are killed by road traffic, it is best not to put up owl boxes close to motorways and main roads.

Barn owls are specially protected by law, and so it is illegal to disturb them close to their nest. Occupied nests - even your box - should only be visited by someone who holds a licence.

Barn Owls would naturally nest in cavities within mature trees. However in today's modern landscape large cavities in trees are often scarce and Barn Owls are reliant on spaces within buildings and purpose made owl boxes. You can help these birds out by putting up a barn owl nest box to provide a safe and comfortable nest site. This owl box has been designed in collaboration with the Barn Owl Trust, and is equally suitable for use inside a building such as a barn, or externally fixed to a tree or wall.


Interior Barn Owl nest box

An interior box can be made out of a tea chest or a packing case, or purpose built to the illustrated design. Interior boxes can be fixed on beams or on walls by brackets.The barn should be free from regular disturbance and the box should be set somewhat back from the entrance. The front ledge reduces the risk of the young falling when they explore their surroundings before they can fly properly. It is vital that there is a permanently open door or window so the owls are not trapped inside the building or shut out from their young.

The barn owl is the classic 'white owl' of the countryside. It hunts small mammals, especially voles, over rough grassland.It uses quiet barns and cavities in trees for nesting and roosting where its presence is often given away by pellets and droppings.Since barn owls are sensitive to disturbance, it's best to place boxes in quiet locations. You can provide a box inside barns, or on trees or the outside of buildings.

Wild barn owls are given the highest level of legal protection possible under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

Please note that it is against the law to disturb a wild barn owl when nesting.

Barn Owl boxes need to be cleaned out periodically as over each nesting season pellets and debris will accumulate. If this is left to build up over several years the volume of the box will be reduced and the young barn owls will be able to climb out of the box earlier than they should. This Barn Owl Nest Box features a double inspection hatch allowing full access to the whole floor area facilitating cleaning or inspection from either side of the bird box. Both hatches are designed to avoid rain coming in, and are securely held in position with simple fastenings.

Perhaps our most familiar owl, the barn owl will sometimes hunt in the daytime and can be seen 'quartering' over farmland and grassland looking for its next small-mammal meal. However, it is perfectly adapted to hunt with deadly precision in the dark of night: combined with their stealthy and silent flight, their heart-shaped faces direct high-frequency sounds, enabling them to find mice and voles in the vegetation.

The beautiful barn owl is, perhaps, our most-loved owl. With its distinctive heart-shaped face, pure white feathers, and ghostly silent flight, it's easy to identify. Look out for it flying low over fields and hedgerows at dawn and dusk.

Happy New Year to all my website readers. Hope 2019 brings you health, wealth and happiness

22 Rhagfyr/December 2018

I have been increddibly lucky over the past ten years with amazing people volunteering to help out with my conservation project. But I must say Nathan Jones and his lovely wife Trish have been amazing. Because of them I have got so much done including nest box maintenance and numbering. Thank you so much

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14 Rhagfyr/December 2018

At this moment in time my illness (crohns and colitis)seems to be under control thank goodness. Its been an extremely hard year or so with my ailments with the added stress of saying farewell to my eldest son. Rhys is in his 3rd year of his PGA golf degree and has recently been given an amazing opportunity to relocate to a prestigious golf club in Hong Kong. Saying farewell to your child knowing that he is on the other side of the world has been extremely stressfull although slightly comforting knowing he is having the time of his life.

So this year I have decided to concentrate my efforts on creating more nesting boxes for Barn Owl`s. I have been very successful with two nest boxes being used and with 6 chicks being raised. More to follow.

6 Rhagfyr/December 2018

I have to give a huge diolch yn fawr lawn to Nathan Jones who always manages a day or two each week to volunteer fo my cause. It seems nothing is too difficult for Nathan and he willingly gets his hands dirty no matter what job he is tasked with. He has fast become an integral part of what I am hoping to achieve with Project Nestbox.

Today we managed to fix numbers onto 70 nest boxes using a ladder to do so. The remainder of the time we had was used for cleaning out nest boxes and replacing those that needed to be replaced and long past their sell by dates. Hopefully next week we can finish off cleaning out and replacing old nest boxes and maybe a coat of paint on one or two of them.

21 Hydref/ October 2018

I have about 15 Barn Owl nest boxes situated around the Gwent area and 5 of these are situated in my home County of Torfaen. Up until now my Torfaen Barn Owl nest boxes have been unsuccessful in terms of nesting pairs although I have had a single bird roosting in at least two of them.

This afternoon following a morning of Dipper site scoping I decided to check up on three local Barn Owl nest boxes. I will be totally honest and own up to forgetting about these particular nest boxes due to them being inactive for at least six years. I could see from droppings and pellets all over the Barn Floor and particularly underneath my nest box that there was an active pair using this site. I guess I made enough noise to disturb both the male and female out of the Barn {as shown below} After informing the Farmer he did mention he had spotted both parent birds all through the summer and two juveniles in the Barn. Sadly he had found another two juveniles dead inside the barn. Good news that the pair had managed to successfully raise two Owlets.

20 Hydref/ October 2018

Searching through a local barn today and came across 2 Tawny Owls.

15 Hydref/ October 2018

These images show my build up of nest boxes which I, along with a few volunteers will start to erect this Friday weather permitting. I have 5 Barn Owl nest, 2 Little Owl, 1 Sparrow, 3 Dipper and about 200 Tit boxes. Obviously the Tit boxes are aimed at Redstart and Pied Flycatcher and some of these will replace older nest boxes. The majority though will be erect at one of my new locations which I am really excited about.


It is my intention to attract a few more pairs of Barn Owl`s in 2019 or at least have nest boxes in place ready to accommodate these marvellous species. I did manage a single pair of Barn Owls this year who successfully managed to raise 4 chicks. As you can see in the images I have 2 ready for erection and I also have another 3 big nest boxes to erect on top of telegraph poles.

Hopefully start work on these next week weather permitting and with volunteers in place.

10 Hydref/ October 2018
6 Hydref/October

Iv'e been extremely busy constructing Hedgehog nest boxes for mostly people in my village over the past few weeks. I think they may have been influenced by the like of Spring/Autumn watch and programmes such as these. This is a very positive thing because animals like Hedgehogs are really struggling at the moment and any exposure can only mean more people helping out this fabulous little animal.

22 September 2018

Through the winter months I usually go into overdrive constructing new nest boxes pending available materials. So with Smart Roof on board I now have as much OS board as I can manage. This has been perfect because having nest box sites within the Brecon Beacons national park they really do suffer adverse weather conditions. With regular Woodpecker and Grey Squirrel attacks I am forever replacing nest boxes. 

20 September 2018

Well over the past week or so I have been building several hedgehog nest boxes for various individuals. I think that people realise that we are entering autumn and obviously cooler temperatures and as a result hedgehogs start looking for a winter hideaway to see out the winter months.

11 September 2018

Iv`e managed to get another company onboard today thanks to John Davies of Davies Timbers Cwmbran. I made my first visit to Smart Roof today and was amazed at how much OS board was offered to me. As the company name suggests Smart Roof are specialised company in making complex roofs. They can actually make up a complete roof in house and break it down into huge sections and ship it out to the customer.

I must give a huge thank you to Dave and Lewis pictured below for helping me load my first kind donation into my vehicle. Its a good job I have a 4x4 due to the weight of the OS board. Diolch Smart Roof

9 September 2018

I was absolutely devastated to learn of the tragic death of one of my Wildlife conservationist heroes. Johnny was an amazing man and much loved all over the Uk. I will never forget his wildlife TV shows which showed Johnny in his natural form.

                                       RIP Johnny Kingdom

1 September 2018

Well as you can see i have managed to keep myself reasonably busy over the past few months. These nest boxes are for my new site or to replace old or damaged boxes. I am starting to run out of Masonry paint, screws, glue and brad pins so I might put out an sos via facebook. I find social medie the best form of scrounging and facebook has  been very fruitful in the past.

22 July 2018

This year I have really focused on promoting my House Martin project within my village. If i am totally honest its not really gone as positive as I would have liked with less than a handful of village residents signing up and allowing a nest cluster to be erect on their property. I do get alot of " Trouble is they make such a mess on my car" which really does frustrate me terribly. People just do not get that we share this planet and certainly don`t own it. So to the kind caring people who have helped out diolch yn fawr iawn.

I must mention my friend Jayne Evans who recently rescued a House Martin fledgling by taking it in and keeping it warm and safe whilst recuperating. Then successfully releasing the fledgling. Well done Jayne and hubby.

16 July 2018

Unfortunately for me I had to say goodbye to this fabulous group of children today which did become very emotional at times. This class of wonderful children will break up for their summer holidays and hopefully take home wonderful memories of my workshop. They will also take home a finished nest box to hopefully errect in their gardens. If witnessing some of the children becoming emotional wasn`t enough Miss Combstock dropped a bombshell by announcing her contract had come to an end and explaining she will start a new position at another school next year. Miss Coombstock has become a very good friend over the last four years and I did start to choke up. I do hope she is happy at her new school and wish her all the very best for next year.

27 June 2018

A local Journalist who actually lives in my village wrote a really nice article on my conservation project. I think she has done a great job and the lay out across two centre pages looked really good. Diolch yn fawr iawn Angharad

24 Mehefin/ June 2018

As reported on social media including Springwatch the plight of the House Martin is very much in the balance at present with fewer numbers returning this year. The House Martin is a childhood favourite of mine having 3 nests on the gable end of my parents house. I became mesmerised with this species and I can remember lying down on my driveway in order to look up directly at the nests being built above me.

I currently live just up from the street I spent all my childhood in and can catergorically remember over 40 House Martin nests active in the two streets. Today there are no nests at all which is a complete disaster. UPVC soffit and fascia have played their part in the demise of House Martin numbers in my area and I am sure changes in my local landscape affected the ecology also.

Today I fitted two House Martin nests that I had made for a friend of my wife. As you can see in the image pairs have already shown interest under the soffit so not a bad area to place a cluster of two.

18 Mehefin/ June 2018

School trip to local Beautiful Pontypool Park

Today we had arranged a day out with Padre Pio school year 1 class after finishing off the nest boxes they had all constructed successfully. This morning I placed the felt roofs onto the nest boxes in order for the children to take home. It has been a pleasure to work in my favourite school again this year and with such a wonderful class of children.

The children and staff really enjoyed the day out to beautiful Pontypool Park bird spotting and litter picking. Below is an image of a Park Benck carved into the shape of the famous Pontypool front row.

17 Mehefin/June 2018

Ringing Day

Today we managed to ring 71 Pied Flycatcher chicks and trapped 9 adult birds. The really positive news was that 2 of the adults were returning birds from last year that we managed to ring as chicks, 1 adult was from a different area and rung by a different ringer. 2 of the adults trtapped did not have rings so we were not able to tell exactly where they were from unfortunately. I was hoping to ring a few more chicks but we failed to get around all nest box sites but hopefully next year I shall arrange to start slightly earlier and make sure we can get to all sites including a few Redstart chicks. 

Thought I would share this image of 4 Blackbird chicks which were well on their way to becoming fully grown and almost ready to fledge the nest. I have been keeping an eye on this nest site and I am happy to say that this is the second brood of chicks for this excellent pair of Blackbird adults.

5 Mehefin/June 2018

Today I spent my second day at my childrens old primary school Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbran. This was a really good workshop with year 5-6 split up into six small teams. Their task was to measure the correct lengths and cut them into the correct sizes for a nest box. I witnessed awesome team work which resulted in some really good well built nest boxes. The children can be very proud of their achievments over the two days and I will say what a pleasure it was to spend two whole days with such a lovely group of children.


Good luck to all the year 6 pupils who will be finishing Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbran at the end of the year. Then  come September they will be attending Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw comprehensive  school in Pont-y-pwl where my daughter Megan is a sixth former.

Pob Lwc i gyd i ddisgyblion blwyddyn 6