All good landlords should treat their tenants well. At the end of each tenancy, it is important for the premises to be thoroughly cleaned and left ready for the next tenant to begin their occupancy. The Tarvin Community Woodland Trust intends to be a good landlord.
Woodland Trustee and Tarvin's Tree Warden Peter Maiden, ably assisted by Joy and John Price, recently undertook the surveying and refurbishment of all of the bird boxes in our woodland. We have a total of 56 moulded 'Woodcrete' bird boxes. These are robust structures made largely from a clever mixture of saw dust and cement and have the benefit of being largely squirrel-proof. These have been purchased over the years, thanks largely to sponsorship by Tarvin folk, and replace the earlier wooden boxes, into which squirrels were able to chew their way and which therefore rendered the brood highly vulnerable to predation.
We have 51 of these Woodcrete boxes in use and, of these, 28 had been used by blue tits, 18 by great tits and 2 by nuthatches, with 3 being unused. This amounts to an overall occupancy rate of 94% – a remarkably high result. (It must be remembered that occupancy does not necessarily mean that the brood (or broods) were successfully reared. It would need continuing surveillance to obtain more accurate figures.) However, it is a very pleasing and optimistic statistic.
There were a number of wooden boxes which had been intended for larger birds that are still in place – two for tawny owls, two for woodpeckers and one for kestrels. These have never been occupied by their target birds (or, in some cases, by anything other than squirrels) and so some have been taken down. It is possible that, following re-design and re-construction, they may be replaced next year. It remains to be seen.
Not all of the boxes were occupied by the species of bird for which they had been designed. For instance, a pair of great tits had occupied one of the nuthatch boxes and had built a huge nest inside it.
Similarly, one of the pairs of nuthatches had used a great tit box – and the
photographs show the way that they modify the entrance with mud to make it more suitable for them.
The nesting material used by nuthatches is very different from that of the great tit – it is just wood and bark chips, together with a few leaves, as the photographs show.
It was fortunate that Laura Denny was walking through the woodland at the appropriate moment and it is Laura we have to thank for the photographs that accompany this report. Incidentally, this is the same Laura whose idea it was to have a Christmas tree in the woodland! Thank you twice, Laura!