Kingfisher Nest in progress
Kingfisher Nestbox – A work in progress
With the welcomed annual return of the Kingfishers to the south end of Teelake, something you could set your “calendar” to ,and the fact that no suitable nesting site is available for them, the Friends of Dothill Local Nature Reserve decided to do their very best to provide one.
This was not an original idea, there have been a variety of artificial nesting “contraptions” designed and tried out, with mixed success, all over the world or wherever you might find Kingfishers. In researching the subject we found that some attempts were clearly not practical or useful and some might even have proved dangerous, for the intended inhabitants. Nowhere could we find any really useful technical data. The timing of the build was not ideal, it was to tie in with a planned televised feature and the BBC wanted us to build the box to suit their schedule this meant no possibility of the box being used in the current year, but gave us the opportunity to fine tune our design, ready for their return next season, fingers crossed.
We thought our best chance of success would be to position the nest chamber in the same dimensional/ orientational situation as in a natural earth bank, beside a stream. These details were readily available from various field studies, on the internet. This was not too difficult to achieve, but what was maybe more problematic was creating as close as possible the same temp/humidity gradients as you might find, in the chamber, in the natural environment. Not meeting these criteria we felt could be a major stumbling block to our Kingfishers taking up residence in their intended new home.
The box was designed to contain two compartments with different materials enclosing each nest chamber i.e. compost in one and rock wool in the other, in each chamber there are measuring devices. Above a nearby stream we have excavated a hole in the correct position (unfortunately not suitable for the birds due to an adjacent house) in this we have placed a third set of instruments, as our control. By changing the materials in our nest box during the next 5 months and possibly making minor adjustments to its structure, we hope to mimic the conditions in the "natural" nest.
Today Dothill Junior School welcomed a visit from Dr John Wilkinson of the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust. He gave a guided walk to the children (Junior Friends), the Friends and other guests giving us an insight into the fascinating world of the amphibians and reptiles we are likely to encounter on our reserve.