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National Nest Box Week, weather, no dig and mystery

Date posted: Tuesday 13th February 2018

National Nest Box Week, weather, no dig and mystery

National Nest Box Week starts tomorrow so I’ll be getting our new state of the art nest box up at the weekend after a good clean, on the back of the shed. Boxes shouldn’t be made of plastic or metal, as they can become too hot for the chicks – good, sustainable wood or woodcrete is best, with a reinforced metal entrance/exit hole so the rats can’t gnaw or corvids peck their way in.

More info from BTO about this national project: “NNBW takes place each year from 14-21 February, and after more than 19 years it is now an established part of the ornithological calendar. NNBW aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife. Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden. Anyone can take part whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club. We’re asking you to put your nest box up from 14 to 21 February to celebrate National Nest Box Week (NNBW). But, you can put up a nest box at any time of the year.
Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.
Taking part in NNBW gives you the chance to contribute to bird conservation whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your nest box.” (National Nest Box Week | BTO – British Trust for Ornithology https://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw)

It has been one of the wettest, most miserable winters, interspersed with bitter cold days and nights of frost and the occasional rainbow – St John’s church must be doing something right! Cycling along the sjte roads has become something of a treacherous activity, as the bike wheels disappear into deep muddy puddles – perhaps it could become an Winter Olympics sport!

I’ve adapted a ‘no dig’ winter regime on my plot, a la Alys Fowler who recommends waiting until the spring to hoe and leaving as much protective covering on the soil as possible: ‘I can never get over how much the desire to see clean, neatly dug winter beds is at odds with what the soil needs. Soil always wants to be blanketed, not left bare and exposed to the elements. It wants the warmth of mulch, or the cover of a crop, be it green manure or winter weeds. Still, I recognise that winter is the time to get on with planning and creating a garden, and beds need to be ready by spring. I’d advocate a no-dig policy every time for this. If you’re starting from scratch, put down cardboard and a thick layer (10-15cm deep) of well-rotted mulch, farmyard manure or compost. Job done, pass go and do not dig….Finally, don’t hoe off any winter weeds right now; they may bother you, but they are doing just as good a job as mulch in protecting the soil from erosion, compaction and the winter chills. Treat them like green manure and either smother them with Nmulch or hoe them off in spring, preferably before they flower and set seed, letting them rot back into the soil all the fertility they’ve stored over the winter.’ (Guardian Weekend 10.02.18).

This mystery chrysalis was discovered on the underside of a wooden welly boot stand, propped against the wall. It looks as though the caterpillar had begun to emerge and expired, but I’m hopeful that something may still be in there..