Bexley Park Woods – nest-box scheme success

By Ralph Todd

Local conservation volunteer, Duncan Devine, was joined on Wednesday 15th October by colleagues from the Friends of the Shuttle to inspect and clean the 16 nest-boxes he had built and put up with the help of local families/volunteers in Bexley Park Woods in November 2013. It was with some nervousness and excitement that Duncan climbed the ladder and lifted the lid of the first to be opened, number 13 as it happened, not unlucky this time as a beautifully formed nest of grass, mosses and wool from tennis balls (presumably unfound by playing dogs) showed all the signs that it had been successfully used by a pair of blue tits.

Duncan Devine opens the first nest box to be checked.

Duncan Devine opens the first nest- box to be checked.

Amongst the individual boxes, two were avian terraced dwellings comprising three in one boxes – both of these also contained complete and successful nests of blue tits.

Duncan with a triple nest-box.

Duncan with a triple nest-box.

Despite the fact that four of the boxes had been wilfully and sadly vandalised, 9 of the boxes had been used with 7 certainly having been successful as the nests contained fragments of egg shell and droppings along with feathers from adult and young birds.  What did remain in the nests suggested all had been used by blue tits though visible evidence during the nesting season (late March – May) produced sightings of great tits as well.

Duncan was pleased to see that blue tits had been using the boxes he made.

Duncan was pleased to see that blue tits had been using the boxes he made.

Some minor repairs were made to some of the boxes and some were repositioned, usually to slightly higher elevations away from vandals, both human and mammal (grey squirrels).

Duncan, Joanne Bradley, Robert Bradnam and Jane Stout worked to clean out and reposition nest boxes as necessary.

Duncan, Joanne Bradley, Robert Bradnam and Jane Stout worked to clean out and reposition nest boxes as necessary.

It is advisable to check nest boxes and remove any old nests, unhatched eggs and debris – these may be removed legally between October and January, though October/November are recommended as boxes might be used by winter roosting birds. Eggs must be disposed of – it is illegal to collect the eggs of any bird.

Robert and Jane watch as Joanne takes a turn up the ladder.

Robert and Jane watch as Joanne takes a turn up the ladder.

It is not unusual for nest boxes not to be used in the first year of having been put up. so a use rate of 45% is very good. Duncan must be congratulated for not only producing each of the boxes but also for his love of the woods and wildlife that lives within it. His delight at seeing the success rate can be seen in the picture here.

With all the boxes cleaned they are now ready for the 2015 breeding season and they will be monitored once again to see how successful they have been. Anyone wishing to join the Friends of River Shuttle (who regularly meet to clean the river of rubbish and arrange events for children and families) should contact fots-thames21@hotmail.co.uk

(All photographs in this article were taken by Ralph Todd)

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2 Responses to Bexley Park Woods – nest-box scheme success

  1. Duncan Devine says:

    My love for birds and wildlife is great when I made these bird boxes. It is a passion I have and is warm to my heart. I got a lot of satisfaction and still do today making bird boxes and watching birds go into their bird boxes. I took great care making these bird boxes and thank you to everybody who helped me put them up Nov 2013 to cleaning them out out this year 2014. I hope you all can take this opputunity by watching wildlife fly by in Bexley Woods.

    Duncan Devine

  2. Sue says:

    We attended this group session last year and decorated one of Duncan’s bird boxes, so it is delightful to read that they were deemed “suitable” by the birds! Thank you for organising and providing the follow up news. Sue, Aimee & Lars

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