Small hole nest boxes

One of our tasks was to build small hole nest boxes with the help of long-serving volunteer Ron Follows and Senior Reserve Officer Lloyd Park. In doing this, we are hoping that the tree sparrow population will increase on the reserve since their recent decline. We built 40 boxes and put them up to replace old boxes that had been pecked at by those cheeky woodpeckers!! Notice from the photos that these boxes are fitted with a metal plate around the hole in order to reduce the impact that the woodpeckers have. But they have their ways, and we saw a few boxes that had holes in the side too…! We replaced these, and this time round, the wood used to make the boxes was slightly thicker. Here’s hoping the nesting birds will have a pleasant stay in their box of choice this spring!

Large hole nest boxes

With barn owl breeding season approaching, we made some large hole nest boxes to put up around the reserve. We put them up in various places, both on trees and telegraph poles after having constructed the boxes in the VTC workshop. They were coated in a waterproof, wood-preserving paint and, once mounted, the bottom was filled with wood chippings. If this was not done, barn owls may take a few years to nest in these boxes as they would need to bring in material to ‘furnish’ their boxes themselves.

After having seen a few barn owls flying near the VTC, we have checked a few boxes from previous years around the reserve to see if they have started nesting. Although no owls were seen on these occasions, we did see evidence of them being here with pellets under the boxes.

Duck trapping

Our handy carpentry skills came into use once more when we built a duck trap to go in Heron Bay. With the wooden frames having been assembled, we made sure the traps were duck-proof (which helps when duck trapping!) and set about putting on the mesh wire.
We put on our waders and fitted the trap so about a quarter of it was submerged underwater, and we left food so the ducks would be enticed in. Recently, a tufted duck and a mallard were caught in one of these traps, and TRO David was lucky enough to ring the latter!

Sightings

A long-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) was spotted enjoying itself on lagoon 3, much to the delight of many people around the UK who came to see this wonderful North American bird.
Lagoon 4 has also given us great views of two ringed plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) and groups of Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) that are back from their annual migration. TRO David got some great pictures of all of these birds!

Amy, Barnaby, David & Emilie

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