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Nestbox Cleaning and Refurbishment in Spurrell’s Wood and on Sustead Common

Wow! What a turnout (16 in all) on a grey, somewhat chilly day. We thought that Spurrell’s Wood would provide some shelter from the strengthening southerly wind, but it didn’t – particularly at the far end of the wood where we had our coffee break. However, after Trevor’s succinct safety talk and his instructions as to who was doing what and where, we quickly dispersed across Spurrell’s Wood, each team of three carrying a ladder, a hard hat, a pair of loppers and a power screwdriver.

Four volunteers who didn’t mind going up a ladder were asked for and four put their hands up and two others joined the ladder person – one, wearing a hard hat to hold the ladder, the other to scout out the next box and to record the state and contents of each box. Where necessary, repairs were undertaken, or, in extreme cases, boxes were replaced by superb new boxes, beautifully constructed by Roger H.

The majority of boxes had evidence of nesting – though some bore no trace of occupancy at all – and, in a few cases, nests with eggs.

The highlight was a (possible?) Marsh Tit’s nest with eggs in it – a first for Felbeck Trust and, as Trevor put it, the Blue Riband (or Ribbon – google it) of nests! And, while on birds, three separate Woodcock were put up during the morning. Spurrell’s Wood has become a splendid haven for wildlife!

Whilst most of the volunteers were nextboxing, Trevor wheelbarrowed large flints from the parking space up to the scrape by the bird hide – for future use in providing barriers and a more interesting flow in the beck there; Nick tackled hazel coppices, cutting poles of varying sizes – some to be used in dry hedging at Brinton Nine Holes and some to be used at the Sustead sites; and Peter disassembled the screen we had built near the outdoor classroom a few years ago – a screen designed to allow passage to the outdoor classroom without disturbing the birds on the opposite bank.

The screen had become increasingly rotten and had partially collapsed in a recent gale. This will be replaced at a future work party. Ed, our tree surgeon, had brought his Alaskan Chainsaw Mill to lengthen the bench he had created out of the felled oak, near the bird hide, a few months ago.

Have I missed anything? Oh yes! During the coffee break, Will, the Thwaite and Alby parish chairman, visited us to pick our brains on the subject of looking after roadside nature reserves and to see what we do. He was made very welcome and we hope that he will join us on future work parties.

A fantastic morning’s work with everybody setting to with a real sense of purpose and working really hard. Thank you, all!

Peter Maingay

December 7th 2023


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