Thursday 28 June 2018

The attitudes of housing occupants to integral bird and bat boxes

This post is about an important piece of research at the University of Gloucester, in partnership with the RSPB, by Sarah Roberts on people's attitudes to having cavities for birds and bats in their houses.

Starling leaving a Swift brick                         Photo Sarah Roberts

My summary of Sarah's summary (which you can read here) is:

This research aimed to investigate householder attitudes towards integral boxes for birds or bats in order to better inform housing developers and other interested stakeholders involved in establishing or promoting the inclusion of integral boxes into housing developments.

and, the bottom line is ......

Despite 3 out of 142 people having experienced problems, 2 didn't care and just 1 thought it was a bad idea. The other 141 either thought it a good idea (75%) or were neutral (24%).

Thus, should any architect or developer have fears that bird or bat boxes might have a negative effect on their ability to sell houses, they can relax. The evidence is that their houses become more attractive to the buyer.

There is a lot more detail in Sarah's summary

Monday 25 June 2018

Simple open eaves design

In 2012, I installed 6 under eaves boxes on the back of my son's house described here.
On the side of the house, I also boxed in the eaves in a very simple way. He has not lived there for 6 years, so I never visited, until recently, as he is moving back in.

by Dick

The reason for the visit was to rescue another Swift that had fallen into his drain. The cover that we fitted had seriously warped. The swift flew off OK, and at the same time there were about 20 swifts charging around his garden.

It seems that all 6 boxes on the back of the house are occupied and at least 1 of the 4 boxed in eaves boxes are occupied.

So I thought it worth documenting exactly how this was done. It should be self explanatory from the picture below.

It is constructed as a single sheet of plywood, spanning 3 joists forming 2 chambers with triangular entrances each end. A slot is cut in the middle to let the middle joist through and a wedge is screwed to the middle joist to separate the chambers. Battens each end close down the entrance size.

The home-made House Martih's nests have never been used, they are probably tucked up too far behind the fascia board.


Saturday 23 June 2018

West Cumbria Swift Group

In this story the actions of the councillor illustrate how making good the harm caused by unthinking development is almost only achieved through the actions of interested private persons. No legislation can do the job: only the endless vigilance of people who care for the environment in general and the conservation of swifts in particular.

bLesley Anne Archer-Shirley

Over the winter, with the Swifts away for nine months, a major project took place in Seascale. In the recent past, fascias had been put onto the Sports Hall blocking off several Swift nest sites. Only two remained. Ken Mawson, a local councillor, encouraged the Parish Council to back a project to put six Swift nest boxes on the Hall in the hope of getting more Swifts back into the building. A Parish Council grant paid for the boxes and Group members, along with a friend who had scaffolding, erected the boxes on May 3rd. just before the expected return of the Swifts. As it turned out we had longer to wait than expected!

The boxes chosen were ordered from John Stimpson via the website at a cost of £15 each [now £17.50].

They are made from exterior plywood with a plastic waterproof roof. Nest forms were also purchased and fixed in the corners furthest from the entry holes.

Right angle brackets were fixed to the back of the boxes after being bent to enable them to be hooked over a 2 cm thick plank. A further bracket was screwed to the underneath of the box. This would fix the box to the plank. This preparation meant that the work to be done on the scaffolding was made easier. Only two holes were drilled into the sandstone wall and plugged. The wooden plank was fixed leaving a gap sufficient to allow the boxes to be hooked over. Finally, a screw was put in place to fix the bottom bracket and keep the box in position.

Future removal of the boxes would be easier and only two holes were drilled into the wall. It proved to be a good method, if anyone reading this is contemplating a terrace of their own.

The ideal conclusion would be to attach a call system of Swifts on the nest but, as this was not possible here, we are hoping that the presence of the last two established nests further along the building will be sufficient encouragement.

West Cumbria Swift Group has been active this winter and further projects included:-
1. The erection of home -made nest boxes and call system in Low Seaton to replace nest sites lost when a property wall had to be re-built.
2. A ‘Filcris’ re-cycled plastic nest box and call system onto a house in Frizington where there is a large screaming party.
3. Nest boxes under the eaves of a house in Cleator Moor where neighbours did not want their Swifts and intended to put up fascias.
4. A barn/garage in Gosforth has been re-roofed over the winter with all the nest entrances left intact by an enthusiastic owner.
5. A terrace of 4 Swift nest boxes on a property in Gosforth with call system
6. Two home made Swift boxes with call system at Sleathwaite.

Last Year’s survey results (our first) have been submitted to the RSPB and Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre in Carlisle and we are now attempting to re-survey the 54 nest sites we confirmed last season and monitor the activity at the new nest boxes.

For Swift Awareness Week we had an open evening on June 21st in Gosforth Methodist Church Hall. With slide show and several ‘stalls’ displaying nest boxes , call systems, nest box cameras, badges, booklets and leaflets. After refreshments, we watched the local screaming party perform over the hall.

We can be proud of what we have achieved in one year and hope that spreading the word about what can be done by a few enthusiastic individuals will encourage even more people to have a go to help these unique birds.