Two years ago, Lord Newborough arranged for 40 nestboxes to be put up in the grounds around Rhug Hall and this has proved to be a very successful initiative with a high level of occupancy. Recently, the opportunity was taken to clean out the old nests which were mostly of Blue Tits and Great Tits but there were three boxes occupied by Pied Flycatchers.
Wintering in West Africa, Pied Flycatchers make the enormous journey back to breed in Britain and particularly favour hilly woodlands. Whilst, like all birds, they can use natural nest-holes, they find well-designed hole-fronted nest boxes the perfect solution and in addition to the organic ethos practised at Rhug, it is another simple way to help such species to thrive.
As part of an ongoing survey, all boxes have now been numbered and will be monitored each season to keep a log of occupancy and the range of species which are using them. Some of the boxes are open-fronted and these were not as successful but generally appeal to a smaller range of species such as Robins and Spotted Flycatchers.
In addition to removing old nest material the boxes were also treated for parasites which can affect young developing chicks.
Pied Flycatchers and many other migrants are currently enjoying the warmth of West Africa but will be heading back in our direction in the New Year, usually arriving in late April.
All images and words © Keith Offord www.keithofford.co.uk