St Augustine’s started hanging bird boxes in Dec 2014 – Jan 2015. Mr Bob Wilson (Print Manager) and Mr James Witherow (IT Manager) started putting webcams in the bird boxes and those videos were shown on the reception screen of the college as the nests were built and eggs laid.
In the first year (2015) the two boxes were kept in two separate locations. Both had nests, one with 21 chicks and the other 20 chicks. Unfortunately, we think the local buzzards caught one of each of the parents and although the remaining parent tried to keep up with feeding the chicks, all of them died.
The next year (2016) the College concentrated on one bird box outside the Print Department and we had 16 eggs. Some did not hatch and of those that did nine chicks survived which, given the high mortality of blue tits, is a very good outcome.
The next year (2017) we had an additional two bird boxes (so three in total) and a feeder put outside the Print Room with cameras in all (Gardennature.co.uk). You can spot the new boxes as they look a bit strange, like they are upside down. In that year only one pair of blue tits took up residence. They built a nest in the older box but unfortunately they never actually had eggs for some reason and abandoned the nest.
This year (2018) we have lowered two of the bird boxes as we think two of them were too high and we have now had interest in all of them. Our oldest bird box is being cleared of old nesting material by two blue tits at the moment and one of the new bird boxes is being nested in overnight from about 4.30pm to 7.30am by a single bird. The other bird box is being visited occasionally by a pair of blue tits and a single great tit. The feeder is being visited by blue tits, great tits, robins, wrens and long-tailed tits as well as other larger birds that feed on the step in front of the feeder.
We are hopeful that at least two boxes will become nesting sites this year and we have four Year 7 students who have taken an active interest (Laura D’Ambrosio, Ellie Hussey, Caitlin Williams and Ryan Williams) who will be keeping an eye on what happens in the bird boxes and writing in the Birdwatch Blog keeping the pupils up to speed on what is happening and when.
The group will be trying to find out facts about the birds that nest and seeing if our birds follow the habits of what books tell us is normal for this area.
We now have a YouTube feed so that students can go on at any time (day or night) and keep track of the birds as they build their nest, have eggs and hatch their babies through the fledgling stages to the time they leave the nest.
We post updates to the College blog so check it out what happened in previous years take a look there!