Growing up in rural Wiltshire in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by nature and the sometimes bizarre wildlife spectacles that I took for granted; 'Mad March Hares' boxing each other, adult Spotted Flycatchers unconditionally feeding their gargantuan Cuckoo chicks and one other occasion that stands firm in my memory.
As an enthusiastic new member of the Young Ornithologists Club, I would spend hours watching a nest box that my parents had put up in the garden, frustratingly waiting for something exciting to happen. Then one morning, as I checked expectantly, I watched in disbelief as an endless stream of Wrens appeared to be machine-gunned out of the tiny hole, one after the other in rapid fire. I lost count of the number on that occasion but have subsequently learnt that 61 Wrens once roosted in a next box in Norfolk, which reinforced my childhood assertion that our nest box must have taken on Tardis-like proportions of its own to fit in so many birds.
Patience is not trait our own children have inherited, so fast-forward 30-something years and my enthusiasm to put up and watch our own garden nest box was not shared with such excitement by our own boys. However, enter the ‘Nest Box Camera’! As if by magic, throwing in a bit of tech and having the ‘on demand’ capabilities that this generation seem to expect, made nest box watching cool. Now all we needed was an inhabitant.
Fortunately it wasn’t long before an obliging pair of Blue Tits took up residence. All of a sudden, ‘Tit Cam’ became prime time viewing and the source of much pre-pubescent giggling! Bedroom walls became makeshift chalkboards to record the number of days the eggs were being incubated and weekends away postponed due to the impending fledging date, which was greeted by the boys like proud parents. The excitement of watching the process from occupancy through to fledging, was matched only by the impending realisation that ‘Tit Cam’ was over until next spring.
National Nest Box Week runs from February 14 – 21 and aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife, so why not put one up of your own and join in the fun?
- Chris Iles
Photo credit Helen Llewellyn