This week Phil and I continued with our tour of the arboretum inspecting, cleaning and remounting the 46 nesting boxes hung around the site.
Unlike our previous session, in which we only managed to deal with 5 boxes, we made significant progress this time inspecting and rehanging almost half of the total number on site.
Disappointingly, we are still not finding much evidence of nesting activity. Only one box so far showing any signs of habitation.
This box had been damaged by the Greater-Spotted Woodpecker which enlarge the entrance hole to get at the chicks that are inside.
In fact, we have found 2 or 3 boxes damaged in this way. We shall continue to assess this problem as we complete our inspections.
Initially the boxes were hung simply by means of a bracket and screw at the top attaching the box to the tree. We have found there is a problem with this method.
Since the tree is a living organism it grows around the screw and actually pulls it inwards, resulting in the nesting box tilting upwards at an angle.
Phil's solution was quite simple. Two screws at the bottom of the box allow us to wrap wire around the tree.
This attaches the box securely to the tree preventing movement.
We are hopeful that good weather prevailing we should be able to complete the inspections of bird boxes during next week's session.
We have 2 more sessions before we stop for the winter season hopefully restarting mid to late January.
While Phil and I were playing with bird boxes the remaining volunteers continued to clear an overgrown area between the London Plane and the Hazel trees.
Once again an impressive area was cleared. Interestingly we uncovered a mature Elderberry tree which was smothered in ivy.
The elderberry had an interesting shape, being multi-stemmed and somewhat resembling a starfish layout.
During our exploits an old pigeon's nest was uncovered. By nesting standards there is nothing complicated or intricate about this bird's nest.
In fact, you can see that it a simple loose construction. Nonetheless, it is amazing that is constructed by an animal using only a beak.
Once again a very productive Thursday. I feel very lucky to have such a group of willing and able volunteers who regularly turn up and make such a difference. Thank you all.