Monday 31 October 2016

Action for Swifts wins a Marsh Award

We were rather surprised, delighted and not a little embarrassed to be given a Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology. 

We follow a rather distinguished set of previous winners:  2012 The BTO Cuckoo Team, 2013 Dr Christian Rutz, 2014 The Spoon-billed Sandpiper Team and 2015 Mark Constantine and the Sound Approach. And now, in 2016 Dick Newell and Action for Swifts!

The reasons cited for our award are on the Marsh Awards website

The awards for Ornithology are chosen by the BTO, and we were one of 5 Ornithology awards introduced by Andy Clements, BTO Director, and presented by Professor Dame Georgina Mace at the Society of Wildlife Artists Natural Eye Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.

To say we are delighted is an understatement, but even more important, we are so pleased that the cause that we all work for is recognised in this way.
Some members of the AfS team at the awards ceremony. From left: Helen Hodgson, Jake Allsop,
 Judith Wakelam, Dick Newell, Vida newell, Bob Tonks, Rowena Baxter and Bill Murrells
Photo Nick Caro

Sunday 30 October 2016

Internal boxes in Dry Drayton

In 2015, Rowena Baxter described her project to get  Swift boxes installed in Dry Drayton. This has resulted in a total of 8 out of 23 boxes occupied by Swifts in 2016. No Swifts were known to nest in Dry Drayton prior to the start of this project.

Rowena decided to take the plunge and install internal boxes in her gable at roof space level, using what has come to be known as the Cambridge System. Two external boxes under the eaves of the same gable, installed in 2015, housed one pair of Swifts in 2016.

Bill and Dick managed to install 3 half brick inserts and the boxes in one day. There is nothing new here, but we are pleased how it turned out. Technical details are:

The half brick inserts were cast in white concrete, then stained red.

The bricks each side of a vertical bond were reduced by 56mm to make space for the insert.

The nest boxes are made of treated external plywood: a simple "shoebox" with internal dimensions W 25cm x L 20cm x H 15cm. Flanges above and below the front of the box are screwed directly into the blocks, which are made of soft vermiculite. The top screws were angled downwards as this is more secure.

A simple hinged door on the back allows for inspection and maintenance.

The PVC pipe has an external diameter of 107mm. The pictures below show how the pipe is trimmed to span the cavity. A slot is cut in the top of the pipe as it is a tight fit. Mortar was placed in the bottom of the pipe to provide traction for the Swifts.

A 107mm diameter core drill was used to make holes through the blocks

Two eaves boxes and 3 new internal boxes
The external box on the right had breeding Swifts in 2016. Photo Clive Cooper
Close up of one of 3 entrances. Photo Clive Cooper
Internal box, showing hinged door and simple catch. Photo Clive Cooper
Components of the Cambridge System: entrance piece, pipe, nest box and concave.
Components in context
UPDATE July 2017: there are now 3 pairs in the 4-box cabinet, 1 pair in the eaves boxes and 3 pairs in the internal boxes, of which 2 are sitting on eggs. The neighbours down the street have a further 8 pairs.

One of 3 pairs in the internal boxes - photo Clive Cooper

#inserts #cambridge #swiftpic