Thursday 23 July 2020

Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Paul Worden  (@paulworden2015) is employed as a site manager at Lancaster Royal Grammar School where there is a wide range of buildings dating from 1852 to 2011. Paul has sent us a simple way to install Swift boxes in an old stone building. There are often situations where no off-the-shelf swift box product is suitable, and a custom design is needed. This is an example of one such case.

Back in 2017 we were approached by a local member of @LancasterSwifts to see if we would be interested in installing external nest boxes in the hope of attracting swifts to our site, although no expert I have always had a keen interest in birds so I soon took up this offer of help from the local group who arranged the supply of the boxes.

The eight boxes were installed immediately along with a speaker and MP3 player so we could hopefully attract the birds for 2018, but although many swifts entered the boxes none have nested in them as far as we know but starlings have occupied a few of them.

Last year 2019 we had a major refurbishment of our 1852 building that required scaffolding to be erected in order to carry out some of the work so while this was in place I took the opportunity to provide more nest sites in the hope of attracting more birds.

Scaffolding provides a perfect opportunity
I  looked at many external boxes but I came up with a much simpler and cheaper idea that would last indefinitely.

I simply removed some stones from under the eaves that were not load bearing by drilling around the motor joints and pulling them out, removed all the rubble from inside, inserted a budgie nest bowl along with a small camera in one of the boxes and then boarded up the front with some external plywood held in with some clear silicone. I also moved the MP3 player to this building and played recordings that almost instantly attracted many birds to have a look.


Then this year as the birds returned and the MP3 player was turned back on I noticed the birds were soon flying up to and on occasions into the nest site. Then in May the first egg could be seen on camera soon followed by a second one but sadly that must have remained unfertile but today we have a very healthy looking bird that I’m sure is going to fledge in the next day or so. I’m also confident the other 4 nests have young given the activity in and around them.

I never thought such a simple and cheap job can bring so much reward so I will be adding more around the site when I can.

The following pictures describe how it was done:

Select a stone for removal

Furnish the inside with nest form and camera

Provide a front with an entrance

First happy occupants

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