Matt & Ava’s Birdbox Project

At the beginning of April, we put up 7 bird boxes in an area along the River Rother where we had been doing litter picks. It is known as the ‘Rother Rec’, AKA ‘Rother Washlands’, on Storforth Lane in Chesterfield. Some of the bird boxes our volunteers had built using kits and others we found scattered around on the site where we were working but after a bit of a spruce-up they were good to go!

Putting up a robin box on the banks of the River Rother

Ava, one of our volunteers mentioned we would be able to monitor them as she has a bird ringing licence. So, after a week we popped back to have a look inside and to our surprise 4 out of 7 of the boxes had evidence of nests already being built. Each week we visited the boxes noting how far along the nest building is and of what material it is made out of.

Great Tit eggs
Blue Tit eggs

Once the nests were completed, we had found a number of eggs had been laid.

Brooding Blue Tit

And after a bit of brooding from the prospective parents, their eggs hatched!

But unfortunately it was not all plain sailing for our project….

We visited the site one day to find that two of our occupied nest boxes had been vandalised and nests destroyed. It’s a sad part of nature conservation, particularly in urban areas. It’s hard to understand why this happens but I think as we connect more with local communities with the nature that’s on their doorstep we can hopefully change people’s behaviour and relationship with the natural world.

We also had a blue tit nest fail after finding an abandoned nest with multiple dead chicks. It was a common theme amongst many blue tit nests across the country this year due to a cold, wet May as mentioned on Springwatch. Read more about this here.

But it was not all bad news!

Our pair of great tits successfully raised three chicks that managed to fledge but not before we were able to ring them.

All the information collected will go to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to help contribute to giving a better understanding of bird nesting behaviour and general bird ecology.

We will continue to monitor these boxes in future years and will make bird box building a regular part of our volunteer days from now on. Ava and I have also discussed future plans to build a number of dipper/wagtail boxes along the Hipper/Rother.

If you have any suggestions or are interested in getting involved with our bird box project, please email me at matt.duffy@dcrt.org.uk.