29 March 2021
Really busy day today fitting 31 small tit , 2 barn owl and 1 little owl nest box around a farm near Rockfield, Monmouth. Spent a fun packed day with a beautiful young family with a ploughman's lunch thrown in for our efforts. Nick has two delightful young children who happily helped throughout the day and they were both an absolute joy to interact with showing them how to use cordless power tools.
Nick`s aim is to turn his farm into a wildlife heaven. He intends to plant hundreds of trees, re introduce hedgerows and erect numerous nest boxes around the entire land that he owns. So what he has in place now is the start of things to come with House Sparrow colony, Bat, Dormouse and Hedgehog nest boxes to eventually be introduced. The really exciting part of this project is for his young children to be involved with the development. Nick and his thirteen year old son Rupert intend to build the nest boxes themselves. Firstly they will be setting up a workshop in one of the farms out buildings with a table saw and chop saw. they also intend to purchase Dewalt cordless tools also. I will look forward to my next visit to see how the project has developed.
27 March 2021
As you can see in the image I am in the process of finishing off another two external Barn Owl nest boxes and another thirty small tit nest boxes. There will also be a Little nest box added to this order.
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a gentleman who had purchased a lovely bit of land close to Monmouth Town on the border with England. The gent and his wife were from Dorset originally but moved to Wales for a countryside lifestyle. With their two young children they intend to turn the small farm into a lovely home and turn the land into a wildlife heaven. The aim is to plant more trees, hedgerow and wild flower meadow with the aim of attracting birds, bees, butterflies, bats dormice and hedgehogs. Nick and his wife are two lovely individuals and I am so excited for them both.
So to start with we are erecting two Barn Owls nest boxes both on two chosen Oak trees with a bit of land in between for thirty small tit nest boxes. The Little Owl nest box is being fitted to the side of one of the barns. Nick has applied for grants to hopefully help with the finances although he intends to spend a lot of his hard earned cash also. They have National Resources Wales and other organizations on board to help and advise which really will be beneficial to them. The land is really out in the sticks of rural Monmouthshire and I am very confident that this whole project will be a complete success. Another aim of Nicks is to eventually open up to local schools for countryside and wildlife education and for children to enjoy the outdoors in a prime location. This is very exciting and I wish other will follow suit.
26 March 2021
Well my time at Our Lady St Michaels RC Primary School Abergavenny came to a close today. In the five days spent at the school we as a class of thirty children, two members of teaching staff and myself manged to construct 32 Tit nest boxes. Eight of the nest boxes were erect around the school grounds with the remainder going to Abergavenny Town Council green areas. The nest boxes were of a high standard and I think the public will be amazed at knowing that year 6 pupils of a local primary school made them
Here are the amazing and super talented year 6 of Our Lady St Michael RC Primary School Abergavenny. I promised the children I would upload a majority of the photographs we took as a class. Included in the images below is a picture of the class teachers Miss Mcarthy and Mrs Duggen.
The 5 days I spent with this wonderful was a really nice relaxed and calm workshop. Most of the children were really proactive enthusiastic and some super talented. Not surprising some of the girls really shined which does reflect on the current situation with our modern day tradesperson. There are females qualified as trades then ever before. I think its amazing to see young girls participating in what was once described as a male only occupation. I would not be surprised to see one of these talented bunch ending up as a qualified carpenter/Joiner such was the quality of the end product.
22 March 2021
I have these two Barn Owl nest boxes finished and ready to fit. Made out of 3/4 marine ply and painted with a quality undercoat and finally a good quality green gloss paint. There was no need to paint these nest boxes because the ply is an external grade and should last for a few years without paint. Nevertheless I have spare paint and I want to increase the lifespan of these nest boxes for as long as I can. I also used two layers of garden shed felt with the final layer being of a good grade and thicker stronger material. I always use damp course for the hinge due to this material being a perfect material to use because of its strength. It is also totally waterproof and will prevent the felt from tearing when the roof is opened to clean out and ring the Owlets.
17 March 2021
Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce to you the brilliant, amazing and wonderful supper talented year 6 of Our Lady & St Michael's Catholic Primary School. I am halfway through my 4 to 5 day stint at this wonderful school situated in the beautiful old market town of Abergavenny. This particular class has got to be one of the best group of children I have had the pleasure to work with. It has also been an honour to work alongside Mrs Mcarthy (class teacher and deputy head) and Mrs Duggan (learning support assistant). A really good professional double act who both go above and beyond for every child in their care. The class were given the task of constructing 30 small tit nest boxes for Abergavenny town council. The town council`s intentions are to erect these nest boxes around the green areas of the town to encourage local birdlife in the towns vicinity. Working with this fabulous bunch of children has been an honour and it will be sad for me to end the workshop at the end of the week.
Our Lady & St Michael's Catholic Primary School
14 March 2021
Over the last few weeks I have started to receive images sent to my from customers who have purchased nest boxes from my online store. Images like this opposite of mainly Blue and Great tit checking out nest boxes. It is that time of year where most Uk birds are priming themselves to be in top class condition in preparation for the 2021 breeding season. Male and especially female birds are usually in their best possible condition this time of year by bulking their weight and pruning feathers to look in too class condition.
People get confused when they see hole nesting birds in and out of nest boxes or holes in trees or buildings at this time of year. They can even witness birds taking in nesting material to nest boxes in gardens. They then think that breeding season is in full swing but that is not the case. Lots of hole nesting birds this time of year have an overwhelming desire to start building. It is almost drilled into them and totally natural. Of course it could also mean a pair asserting the territory they have chosen. But one thing is for sure, most hole nesting birds won`t start to build nests and lay eggs until the end of April.
14 March 2021
What better way to spend Mothering Sunday than out in the freezing cold finishing off Barn Owl nest boxes for up and coming projects. So it was a happy mothers day to all mums around the world on International womens day also. Hope all mum`s had a great day and stayed safe with their families. So as you can see I finished off two Barn Owl nest boxes with a couple of coats of good quality gloss paint. I call this colour Park bench green because it remind me of my local park.
13 March 2021
Below is a before and after image of a Barn Owl nest box. I make them using 3/4 inch marine ply if I can get hold of it. With marine ply that would normally be good enough and waterproof. However to extend the nest box longevity I will always try and paint it using good quality exterior undercoat finished off with quality gloss or masonry paint. Here are a few facts about this beautiful species of bird.
One of the unique barn owl facts is that they hunt while flying low or without wavering whatsoever. The small vertebrates are normally the victims of barn owls. It is estimated that a single owl eats more than one rodent per night. Nevertheless, the young ones are capable to chomp up more than 1,000 rodents in one year.
With its banshee call, dark eyes, and bright white face, a barn owl could pass for a winged ghost, moving silently against the night sky. In fact, many cultures associate the barn owl with superstition. In England, where barn owls often live in graveyards, one of these birds flying by the window of an invalid symbolizes approaching death. The Zapotec people of Mexico also saw the barn owl as a fatal omen, and the ancient Egyptians believed barn owls occupied “the realm of death,” likely due to their nocturnal habits. But it’s also true that barn owls are a boon to their ecosystems, preying on agricultural pests such as rats and mice. They’re one of the most widespread bird species on Earth, with 10 subspecies inhabiting every continent except Antarctica.
Barn owls don’t migrate, instead thriving year-round in numerous environments, including open lowlands, farmlands, and deserts. True to their name, barn owls may use isolated buildings for daytime roosts, and are at home living among people in cities and suburbs. Barn owls begin to breed when they’re about a year old. During courtship, males perform elaborate displays, including moth flight, a strenuous physical feat in which a male hovers and dangles his feet in front of the female. About 75 percent of mating pairs stay together for life, but they will separate if they’re not producing enough young. Sometimes both males and females will have more than one mate.
Barn owls can breed year-round, producing one or two clutches annually that range in size from three to 11 eggs, depending on the availability of prey. The birds prefer to make their tree nests in open areas like fields and marshes, where they can hunt more easily. The female lays her eggs two to three days apart so the chicks won’t hatch all at once, incubating them for about 30 days. The male brings the brooding female food and continues after the chicks have hatched; the female tears the meat into smaller pieces for the owlets. By two weeks of age, they’re able to swallow prey whole. At about eight weeks the chicks will fledge, though they’ll hang around home until about 15 weeks of age while their parents continue to feed them.
11 March 2021
One positive about staying safe indoors during the Covid-19 lockdown is the chance to take time for the little things, such as watching the return of migrant birds in summer. In fact, finding the joy in the little things will quite often make all the difference to the way you feel and watching the returning birds is something that most people can enjoy doing at no extra cost. It will also be another way to help keep children entertained – and can help to boost their understanding of the natural world. From the start of April many favourite species of birds make their way back to the UK to enjoy the summer months here.
The RSPB estimates that as many as 40 per cent of the world’s birds migrate. In the United Kingdom we see birds that migrate here for a milder winter, as well as birds that breed here in spring then migrate south in autumn. These southern migrants returning for the spring will be the ones to look out for over the coming weeks while you remain at home. And, if you are really lucky, you could even spot a bird on a stopover as it breaks up a longer journey north or south, such as an Artic tern. People living near to the coast can also look out for birds that live out at sea as they return for spring. Most birds that head north to spend the spring and summer in the UK do so to enjoy more space to nest in, and with fewer predators. Food offers another enticement with the temperate, but often wet, summers offing up a feast of insects for migrant birds to enjoy.
Many of the more easily identifiable birds will make a return to the UK from the start of April, with birds continuing to arrive into May. These include:
Cuckoo – A special bird to spot; cuckoos are usually only in the UK for a short period of time. Arriving in spring to lay an egg then heading off south again in July after leaving it in another bird’s nest.
Swallows – Murmurations of starlings of one of nature’s most spectacular sights and should be more prevalent through summer. Known to be noisy, starlings have colourful, iridescent feathers and triangular wings that make them distinctive.
House Martins – You might well find that these small birds make their home in your roof on their spring return. Bluey black feathers, a white underneath and white above the tail help to distinguish House Martins.
Turtle doves – With brown and black wings, turtle doves are one of the smaller doves with a distinctive, gentle, call.
Willow Warbler – The tiny Willow Warbler undertakes a massive journey to Africa every year. It has grey/green feathers, a yellow chest and a stripe above its eye.
Wheatear – These birds can be spotted hopping along the ground and are distinguished by a stripe across the eye, an orange chest and brown/black plumage.
Nightingale – This small brown bird is most easily defined by its beautiful song.
Swift – This medium-sized, distinctive bird spends most of its time flying and can be spotted by its screeching sound, dark brown feathers and forked tail.
Flycatcher – Pied flycatchers and spotted flycatchers head to the UK from Africa. The pied flycatcher is a small black and white bird while the spotted flycatcher is brown/grey. They can be seen snapping up flying insects in mid-air.
For many birdwatchers, the spring migration period is the most exciting time of the year. It is a time of change, with the departure of winter visitors and arrival of summer migrants. Whether you live on the coast or inland, you will see birds moving. Birdwatchers regularly record the first arrival dates of migrants such as the first Swallow or Cuckoo of the year. These first dates are often ‘extremes’ and don’t give us much information about the main periods of migration. By contributing to BirdTrack you will help build up an annual picture of spring migration and we will be able to monitor the timing of arrival of spring migrants and departure of winter visitors.
My good friend Nigel Williams started his own Barn Owl project last year. He is from Newent in Gloucestershire and intends to build Barn Owl nest boxes to be fitted around his local area. He managed to erect 3 nest boxes before Christmas and intends to make more. Nigel is also a wildlife photographer and has put lots of hours into his Barn Owl project and many hours attempting to photograph them. Well this morning Nigel sent me these beautiful images of a local Barn Owl. He has been awarded after many hours of patience and dedication with these images.
9 March 2021
8 March 2021
So I continued with my Barn Owl project today. As previously talked about in past blogs I am going to build and erect as many Barn Owl nest boxes as I can. To date I have made about 50 nest boxes and I will continue as long as I can get the materials to do so.
A large majority of the nest boxes are situated in Monmouthshire with around 10 in Torfaen and 2 in Powys. My intention is to erect at least another 10 within my own Borough of Torfaen providing I can get permission from land owners. Monmouthshire Is a huge rural County and 95% rural and open Farm Land. That is why a majority of my nest boxes are situated within this County.
Barn Owls are a bird of prey found throughout most of the UK. They have a white heart shaped face with dark eyes. Barn Owl populations are at threat from decreasing habitat, changes in agricultural practices and reduction in their prey species.
There is no separate protection under UK law for Barn Owls. Rather they are protected by the same laws as all other bird species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure take any bird, or to disturb, damage or destroy any active nest of eggs. However, there are no laws protecting Barn Owls outside of their nesting season. For Barn Owls, nesting protection ends when all the young owls become independent (typically at 11-14 weeks), which is later than the age at which they fledge (at 8-10 weeks old).
7 March 2021
Today I fitted a Hedgehog, Bat, x2 Robin, x2 Tit, Little Owl and House Sparrow nestbox to a house and garden in Landdewi Rydderch a beautiful little village in Monmouthshire. This village is the most isolated village in the County and completely surrounded by open farmland. Gill (home owner) has been feeding hedgehogs in her garden since moving in over a year ago. She has also fitted infra red cameras to watch the hedgehogs feeding and Gill has identifie
6 March 2021
A huge thank you to my two good friends Dave and Alex who helped to erect 40 small tit nest boxes. This is a new site and I am very excited about this location. It is situated on the other side of a small valley from two of my Pied Fly and Redstart nest box sites. This site has everything and so beautiful, can`t wait for spring ;)
3 March 2021
Today I was accompanied by my good friend Steve Roberts. I had asked Steve last week if he was available to give me a hand with this particular nest box. If I had known the local farmer offered to help me out with his tractor then there would have been no need to involve Steve. It was good Richard the farmer offered me help because we actually installed the Barn Owl nest box in a safer way than what I normally do. Although I am sure health and safety officers would have had a field day if indeed they were present. The land is on the side of a mountain although the images certainly do not give it justice. So being lifted up inside the tractor bucket on very steep terrain was definitely the correct call. I`d like to thank Steve Roberts and Richard the farmer for todays efforts.