National Birdbox Week with Mencap

I haven’t felt much like writing recently; there’s been a lot going on at work and home. However, it’s about time I did because I’ve had some really good sessions over the past few weeks…

14th-21st February was National Nest Box Week and I was back at Skylarks Nature Reserve in Rushcliffe helping some of our local Mencap  group to build bird boxes! 20160218_142635.jpg

Bob, the volunteer warden at Skylarks, had prepared the kits so we were all ready when the group arrived. Each kit had been sawn by volunteers and consisted of:

  • two side plates
  • a long back panel which extends above the lid so it can be attached to your wall/tree/shed easily and without drilling through the actual nesting space.
  • a front panel with a hole ready drilled. Ours were 25mm diameter making them suitable for blue tits or coal tits. If you want to provide a nestbox for great tits the hole needs to be slightly bigger at 28mm.
  • a base
  • a lid with one each sawn off at an angle to fit against the back panel
  • a rectangle of linoleum. This is tacked on to make a hinge and is a really useful feature to help you clean out the birdbox easily at the end of the year. If you don’t have any spare lino around, bike inner tubes work just as well (anything waterproof, strong & flexible really).

The Mencap group were keen to get stuck in straight away but we only had two tables to work on so we split into groups with half of us starting on the bird  boxes and the other half making pine cone feeders, then swapping half way through. I started with the birdbox group and one of the guys asked me to be his building partner. I can’t say it was a particularly wise choice as I’d never made one of these before, but luckily we had my fellow volunteer David on hand to help out.

We cobbled together the wooden boxes and lined up the lino hinge so that the lid was secure. I was so impressed with the finished result! The Mencap group took a couple back to the community garden, and as there was a spare left one of the group kindly allowed me to take his creation home to put up in my new garden 🙂

Afterwards we made bird feeders out of pine cones. It’s really simple – mix together some Trex vegetable fat with bird seed and press it into the pine cone. Just remember to tie the string on before your get your hands and the cone all greasy (I won’t be making that mistake again…)

We finished up the session with a quick walk around New Skylarks, hanging up our pine cone feeders on the way, and a visit to the rapidly growing burial mound which is part of an exciting Skylarks Experimental Archaeology project – follow the link to find out more.

All images subject to copyright. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the view of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for whom I volunteer, or any other organisation.

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