The cold weather on the way reminded us of a story from last year:
Snow being cleared in Richmond Park. Image courtesy of
Adam Curtis, who is Assistant Park Manager at Richmond Park, the largest of the Royal Parks in London, came to us in winter 2011 in search of a cheap plastic plank, we recommended the 18mm x 140mm x 3m plank which was on offer at the time and he went away . He only bought a few which we assumed that they were for path edging like the vast majority of these planks we sell to parks across the country. Last winter Adam contacted us again
This time he told us what they were for:
Snow plough and recycled plastic blades. Image courtesy of Adam Curtis
“We buy these boards off you and drill them to attach to a siromer snow plough – they ‘ waste’ away on the roads when we snow plough but protect the road and metal blade from damage.
Siromer charge £55 for replacement blades but I think they use ‘ new’ plastic rather than recycled – our tractor driver tells us that your plastic [blades] are better and a fraction of the price. Each blade lasts about one full day ( 8 hours) of snow clearing.”
So if anyone else out there has this problem and wants an alternative you know where to come!
Two pallets of nest boxes ready to send off to Cornerstone Ltd.
They will be incorporated into refurbishments to council owned housing stock by South Cambridgeshire District Council. We will be adding them to our existing range of products shortly.
The order includes bat roosting boxes (the black ones at the top), sparrow terraces (in the foreground), swift nest boxes with a special starling proof entrance hole (at the back) and standard nest boxes (in the middle).
We look forward to being able to see the results since they will be installed right on our doorstep.
This is a new product idea we are trying out on some of the beehives we help to manage at Downing College, Cambridge (Chris is also a beekeeper).
Woodpeckers can be a real problem for beekeepers in winter, when they can make holes in wooden bee hives in search of food. It does not always happen, but if they manage to get in the colony of bees will almost certainly perish.
There are many ways of protecting bees against woodpecker attack such as making a chicken wire cage or adding strips of flapping plastic bags. We thought we could try a recycled plastic solution, safe in the knowledge that it would take a super – woodpecker to get through:
The 6mm thick recycled plastic sheet is held away from the hive with 12mm thick battens, so the wood can still breathe and the 4 panels are just held together with simple cable ties which can be tightened up simply on site. As you can see the bees seem happy with it so far!
We’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens.
Since we have had our hogbox set up for feeding hedgehogs it has been cleared out every night, and we are now putting in two full trays of food a night. There are definitely two hedgehogs using the box and nothing else could get in…or so we thought!
We recorded this video last week – I was pretty amazed that a cat could get in (and out – it wasn’t there in the morning!). We haven’t recorded it happening again, but knowing what the neighbourhood moggies are like I added a couple of baffles to prevent them from getting in.
So here it is, a sort of hedgehog chicane:
Hogbox with cat deterrent baffles fitted
So far we have not had a repeat of the Houdini Cat but we have had lots of hedgehog visits, as you can see here.
The box can be found on our website here:
Dick Newell’s excellent Action for Swifts website has a story about a rescue project using our Zeist swift boxes in Ballyclare, Northern Ireland.
Full details can be found here: http://actionforswifts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/swift-intervention-in-ballyclare.html
So yesterday we went out and checked the hedgehog box to see if there had been any visitors. The mealworms had all been eaten but that could have been one of the frazzled blackbirds in the area…
Inside the box the food had all been been eaten:
Checking the camera we’d set up to keep an eye on it the first visitor was one of next door’s numerous cats. It was obviously interested in the food and tried to get in, but the door was too small. You can watch it here.
Later on we had our first hoggy visitor, a mere 6 hours after installing the feeding box! One video is shown here, there were lots more visits afterwards. We’ll keep posting more (and hopefully better!) videos as
we get them.
One of our colleagues in the workshop was telling the guys in the office about a box he had made (from wood) to provide his local hedgehogs with a safe place to feed. It just so happened that we were making an order for one of our Hogboxes at the time, so we made another one, popped it in the garden with some food and a trail of enticing mealworms and set up a camera…
Now we just have to wait and see…
We also put a dish of water outside because hedgehogs need quite a lot of water.
Can anyone see the Filcris recycled plastic here? Hint – it’s not the penguins!
Where’s the recycled plastic? [Courtesy of Michael Dunn, BAS]
To see the full story click here: http://www.filcris.co.uk/case-studies/recycled-plastic-penguin-bricks
Common Tern and Chicks on Filcris Standard Tern Raft at Fen Drayton RSPB Reserve
After several months away due to supply issues, our tern rafts are back in production and available to purchase on our website here:
And just in the nick of time with common terns due back in about a month’s time!
Our old friend Chris Matcham called us recently with another of his ‘crack pot ideas’ (his words not ours – his crack pot ideas have been the inspiration for our eco mink rafts and otter holts so we always pay attention). Chris, who recently retired from Surrey Wildlife Trust, is concerned like the rest of us about the spread of bird diseases by bird feeders and bird tables in gardens. He wanted (for his own garden) a hanging table which would be very easy to clean! Together we came up with a design, and we made two, one for the bird feeders outside the office window and one for Chris. And here it is:
Sunflower hearts, nyjer seed and ‘robin’ mix. But no poop!
The base is made from tough, glossy recycled plastic sheet. We have machined holes for the steel dishes and bevelled the edges for a smooth finish.
We also added drainage holes to stop them filling up if it rains!
After a couple of weeks of tests they certainly work. The steel dishes just pop out and can be washed easily in a washing up bowl. The rest of the table can be cleaned in a couple of minutes with a few squirts. And the birds seem pretty happy too – we have constant activity from our resident Robins, the Starlings that nest above the office door, a pair of great tits and blue tits and a very noisy gang of goldfinches! So we’ll start work on some new designs including a standard table and a ground feeder, but what we’d really like to know is what everyone else thinks. So please, let us know!