Monday 1 December 2014

Elizabeth Way Bridge, Cambridge

The Friends of Midsummer Common (FoMC) in Cambridge have noticed a significant decline in the numbers of Swifts in their part of Cambridge, so we searched for a suitable place for Swift boxes. It did not take long to realise that Elizabeth Way Bridge provided a good opportunity.

Elizabeth Way Bridge supports one of the main arterial roads into Cambridge across the river Cam. It forms part of the boundary of Midsummer Common. At the top of the wall under the very wide eaves runs a channel which looks as if it was designed to take Swift nest-boxes. The channel has a circular section so we thought the ideal design would be a recycled water-pipe nest box.

6 double pipe boxes installed
After consulting both Cambridge City Council and Cambridge County Council (who have responsibiity for the bridge) we were given permission to install the boxes.

We came up with the idea of a pipe box a few years ago when we installed a small number, 3 of which now have breeding Swifts and at least 4 have breeding House Sparrows. We documented the idea here.

A view across the river Cam
For the bridge, we decided to make 6 double boxes. We used 2 2-metre pieces of recycled water pipe cut into pieces 66cm long with some simple internal carpentry to make 2 boxes out of each piece. The finished boxes were painted with Sandtex, colour 'Mid Stone'.

The boxes are secured with small wedges, glued in place with silicon glue - brand name "Sticks like Sh*t" (and it does!)

Power is available within the bridge to drive an attraction call system.

The following pictures show how the boxes were constructed.

Components of a double pipe box, before painting
6 sets of components, painted and ready for assembly.

This project was a combined effort by Action for Swifts and Friends of Midsummer Common. Pictured (left) are Bruce Martin, Barry and Susan Stobbs .

Bob Tonks and Dick Newell installed the boxes.

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