Friday 20 November 2015

Maurice Wilkinson's nest boxes

Maurice Wilkinson has been attracting Swifts and House Martins to his house in Needingworth since 2010. He has a number of innovative ideas which are worth sharing, including the use of uPVC as a material, and simulated eaves for House Martins.  It is a good example of how to grow a Swift and House Martin population in a rural village, estimated at 3 pairs of Swifts in 2009 to an expanding population which has reached 8 pairs in 2015 together with 15 pairs of House Martins.

A  DIY uPVC box and 3 Schwegler 17's
Maurice started attracting swifts into Schwegler 17 nest boxes in 2010, after a single bird was seen trying to regularly access a House Martin nest the previous year. Calls were played each summer. Swifts subsequently visited, with first breeding in 2014.

He then started to make his own boxes out of 9mm uPVC, normally used for fascias and soffits.

Occupied artificial House Martin
Nests under normal eaves
uPVC is an ideal material as it has good thermal properties, it reflects sunlight, is waterproof, indeed, it is designed to resist all weathers.

Maurice's boxes have a plywood floor, which gives some absorbency.

In 2015, Maurice had 2 pairs of Swifts, in his own-designed nest boxes, as well as 1 pair in a Schwegler box. 2 more pairs took up residence during the summer in Schweglers, building nests, with several birds investigating other boxes.

Occupied artificial House Martin 
nests under simulated eaves
Maurice has also attracted House Martins into artificial nests under his eaves, as well as under simulated eaves on his gable end. In 2015 he had 17 occupied House Martins nests, the highest number to date.

The simulated eaves are also made of uPVC, so they should have a long life. 

An artificial House Martin 
nest beneath a uPVC Swift box
Plywood exposed to the elements eventually deteriorates. There is a case for plywood boxes, which are exposed, to be given a uPVC roof.

Maurice fitted a uPVC double box on his neighbour's house and another near neighbour has put up 2 of John Stimpson's Zeist boxes, with another 2 to be put up this winter.

This autumn he has added more Schweglers and uPVC boxes, making a total of 29 Swift homes on his house. 

There are now 23 artificial House Martin nests plus 5 naturally built nests on Maurice's house.

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