Thursday 16 April 2015

More experiences of retrofitting internal Swift boxes

There are a number of examples on this blog of retrofitted nestboxes in a roof-space, behind a gable end (e.g. herehere and here). We had not ourselves done this by using a core drill to make a hole through the wall, so when the opportunity arose, we grabbed it with open arms.

[Postscript July 2015: a pair moved into the right most box and raised 2 chicks]

[Update 2017: although, disappointingly, no Swifts turned up in 2016, by which time there were 9 internal boxes waiting for them, in 2017 4 pairs turned up of which 3 attempted to breed. Only one chick fledged, probably a reflection of inexperienced young birds].

by Dick

Christina Day, of Haverhill, had been trying to attract Swifts to some Zeist nest boxes installed under the eaves on the north east side of her house. She attracted Swifts alright, but they only paid attention to the fascia board on her south east-facing gable end. Thus she felt that she needed more nest boxes on this gable end. She bought 4 woodcrete boxes and contacted AfS to install them. The situation is ideal, as the gable end faces out over open land.

The roof trusses next to the inside wall, restricted what one could do with the woodcrete boxes, so we ended up making 2 plywood boxes.

Having established a reference point by drilling a single hole through the wall through the mortar, we then judiciously chose 4 suitable verticle bonds to make an entrance. This was achieved by using an angle grinder on the outside to slice a quarter brick off the ends of 2 adjacent bricks and then a masonry drill to remove the rest of the material.

This was quite hard work.

A hole from the outside through the middle of the vertical bond provided a reference point for using the 107mm diamond core to drill through the inner wall of soft concrete blocks.

This was the easiest part of the job as the core drill went through the wall like a knife through butter - quite therapeutic!

As in the case of Judith Wakelam's boxes, we used an insert fashioned out of a 30mm airbrick liner to make the entrances on the outside. A 4 inch plastic pipe, butted against the outside wall, bridged the cavity to the inside.

It was more than a full day's work for 2 of us, but we were pleased with the end result.

It would be so much easier if it was standard practice to build boxes like this in at the time that the house is built

The following pictures illustrate the result:

4 entrances
View through the pipe to the outside entrance

4 entrances prior to fitting nest boxes

Bill Murrells finishing off the installation of 2 plywood and 2 woodcrete boxes.
Picture of a diamond core drill


Thursday 9 April 2015

Gable end Swift cabinet

Gable ends are often a good opportunity for Swift boxes because of their height. This gable end, in Reach, Cambs., faces north-west and is high, so very suitable.

[Update September 2017: 7 of the 9 boxes were occupied this year]

[Postscript July 2015: the pair nesting in the apex of the brickwork returned to use the new apex entrance. Another pair occupied the left box on the 2nd row and House Sparrows occupied 2 boxes on the right of the bottom row]

by Dick

Photo Dafila Scott
As the eaves were quite narrow (~150mm),the only option was a flat fronted box with holes in it. So, in order to make it a little more interesting we added battens above the entrances.

These were fashioned by slicing a '4 by 2' at 45°. The battens had the added advantage of providing some level of shade and defending the entrances from the rain.

The wood stain used is Rosewood.

The cabinet contains 9 nesting places, the top most entrance, in the apex, is in front of an entrance in the brickwork which has previously been used by Swifts.

The box is secured by screws through the side walls into the wooden soffits. The final erection required scaffolding supporting a ladder.

Photo Dafila Scott
The images below show how it was constructed:


Friday 3 April 2015

Milton Road Primary School upgrade

In 2010, 4 DIY swift boxes were installed, one of which was occupied that year (see story). In 2011, 2 more boxes and a camera were added. In 2014 we added a 2nd camera, by which time all 6 boxes were occupied. Pictures were streamed online via the The Birdbox Project.

by Dick

We have now added 6 more boxes as well as 2 more cameras. The original boxes were 525mm long whereas the new boxes are 315mm long. We believe the Swifts will find them acceptable.  The design is an example of this generic template.

Temperature measurements on this south-facing aspect have shown that the temperature remains within acceptable limits.
The original, larger boxes are, from the left, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 & 12, all occupied by Swifts in 2014.
The AV cables have yet to be tidied up.