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Nest boxes at the Palace

by George Chamier, garden volunteer

Visitors and volunteers may notice that quite a few nest boxes for birds have gone up around the grounds. Several weeks ago, the garden volunteers set up a production line and, using recycled timber, produced seventeen boxes to approved RSPB designs.

garden volunteers in the vinery building wooden bird boxes

These are of two basic type s. The first, with a hole in the front face, are designed for blue and coal tits (small hole) or great tits (slightly larger hole). These are placed fairly high up (over two metres) on walls or trees and, as is important for all nest boxes, they are north-facing – it doesn’t do for eggs or chicks to risk becoming overheated on a sunny day. They are also in fairly open sites, as tits like to have a good field of view around the nest. You can see a couple on the riverside wall inside the walled garden, and another couple on the exterior wall either side of the gardeners’ bothy and potting shed.

The second type is designed for robins. These boxes have an open front and are placed below head height in fairly thick vegetation. Robins are, of course, famous for using all kinds of curious places to nest – old boots, under car bonnets, even inside people’s houses; one nested in a flower pot in my allotment shed a few years ago.

Head gardener Lucy Hart and a garden volunteer pose for a picture with a wooden bird box

Birds are pairing up at this time of year and beginning to prospect for nest sites. Let’s hope our boxes will be to their liking. Next stop (for next year) – owl boxes!

Look out, too, for the bird-feeding station with viewing facilities for human visitors which is going to be set up near the gate into All Saints churchyard.