That Sickening Crunch..


So what’s happening here then?

You may recall from last time that Mike has been engaged in yet another battle with the resident wildlife. In this case the woodpeckers. In years past Woodrow et al have stolen callistemon blooms, made off with the straw that forms the substance of the house roof AND woken us up at some ungodly hour of the morning by drumming on the bathroom soil pipe.



Yes, you. And hide you might.

Great Spotted Woodpecker.


They are glorious birds but, as anyone who gives them garden room will know, they are also aggressive predators of the young of smaller species. Blue and great tits especially. Tits often seek out purpose built boxes in which to build their nests but that isn’t necessarily enough of a defence. The woodpecker can use his or her fearsome beak to hammer away at the entrance hole and enlarge it sufficiently to get inside the box.



Exhibit A

(Don’t be confused by the side hole, it’s normally covered by a flap and is used for cleaning out the box after the nesting season.)



Fortunately there is a solution.

Most new nest boxes come these days with a metal plate around the entrance hole: beak resistant. It’s also possible to purchase the plates separately for attaching to a box as a retrofit. Mike has retrieved the two nest boxes from the woodland and performed the necessary upgrade. Flushed with success he even went further and created a third box, using the existing design as a template. Hence the need for the new drill bit and my getting inundated by facebook ads for tool companies.. still.



Nest box entrance plates come in different sizes for different birds and to avoid any possibility of discrimination we have provided one of each.

From the left then, 25mm for blue, coal and marsh tits; 28mm for great tits, tree sparrows and pied flycatchers; 32mm for house sparrows and nuthatches. Mike suggested putting a label on the front of each box so the birds know which is which. Might have to be a picture since I doubt they read English. Let’s hope there’s no fights.



So all’s well that ends well. Yes? Not exactly.


Increasingly, in the UK anyway, nature documentaries now feature an extra bit on the end: the behind the scenes exposé; the out-takes. So allow me to introduce you to the rusty duck Diaries. To get the pictures of the nest boxes during and after construction I had the camera mounted on the tripod, not very high up either because the nest boxes aren’t very big and I’d placed them for photographic purposes directly on the ground. The trouble is the concrete path I was resting the tripod on, which I thought would be perfectly safe, is on a slope. I’ve put the tripod down there countless times before but this time, clearly, I had just exceeded the tipping point.



With a sickening crunch the tripod and camera fell to the ground. At first I thought I’d just scuffed the end of the lens and although not very pretty it did still fully retract. But alas no. Even though the camera had not fallen a great distance the force was still enough to break it off the tripod. Worse than that the tripod fixing was ripped clean out of the body of the camera leaving a gaping hole in the housing. Needless to say Nikon don’t make this model anymore. It was perfect for me too. I have ordered a very similar camera from Canon so we’ll see how that goes.


Agapanthus inapertus subsp. pendulus 'Graskop'


Agapanthus inapertus subsp. pendulus ‘Graskop’

Not bad for hand held.