Backwell Environment Trust

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Nest Box Survey 2013/2014

Throughout BET’s reserves there are some 51 nest boxes, 22 in Jubilee Stone Wood (JSW) and 29 in Badgers Wood (BW).  Many of these have been made by the local cub groups over the years.  There are 2 Tawny owl boxes in each reserve which, sadly, have never been used by owls, only squirrels.  The other nest boxes are used almost exclusively by members of the tit family - mainly Great Tit, Blue Tit and, in the lower part of JSW, possibly some Marsh Tits.  Occasionally we have had other residents such as dormice, wood mice and wasps!  Each year, during the winter months, we try to ensure that the boxes are inspected, cleared out, maintained and refurbished where needed – but there is invariably the odd elusive one that gets missed!

In February/March 2013, during that really cold spell, 28 boxes were checked in BW, of which 8 had nests including one with a 1 dormouse nest as well.  In JSW’s 21 boxes there were also 8 nests and 1 mouse tenant!

Determined not to have to do the following year’s survey in such hostile conditions, and to give more time for refurbishment work, it was decided to start the process in November 2013.  The results show the number of nests was very similar to the previous season, though there was a huge increase in the number of dormouse nests such that next year it may necessary to take someone with a dormouse licence with us.  There was also more evidence of chick mortality which may have been due to the unseasonal cold weather and resultant shortage of insects.

In BW, 25 boxes held 9 nests, plus 5 dormouse nests, 1 wasp nest and squirrel evidence in an owl box.  It is interesting that the dormice often seem to build their beautiful honeysuckle bark nests in boxes where there is already a bird nest, (though in the box with 2 dormouse nests there was no bird nest – presumably no room!).  There were 9 nests in JSW, plus 4 dormouse nests and evidence of squirrel occupancy in one of the owl boxes.

  • Dormouse nest
  • Dormouse Nest on Birds Nest
  • Wasp nest on box
  • Wasp nest
Dormouse nest1 Dormouse Nest on Birds Nest2 Wasp nest on box3 Wasp nest4
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Thanks to Bill Charnock for the tremendous amount of refurbishment that he has done on the boxes this year, putting in drain holes and repairing lids and hinges, and to Brian Campbell and Derek Seddon.  Several boxes have needed replacing and 7 additional boxes have been put up, 3 in JSW and 4 in BW, in areas where there were none.

Carrie Riches


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