There are 37 boxes at Brimham Rocks, of which 32 have the standard 32mm hole. The boxes are built to attract blue and great tits, pied flycatchers, nuthatches and redstarts. We also have two open-fronted boxes for spotted flycatchers and an owl box. I monitor the boxes on behalf of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
I fill in a card for each box which the BTO supply, using a standard coding system.
I visit the boxes up to eight times throughout the spring, usually every two weeks. Once the cards are completed I send them back to the BTO.
Last year there were 12 successful blue tits' nests producing about 100 fledged chicks. Some were difficult to count because of sitting birds, piles of chicks and also the aggressive nature of blue tits. But still a very good number.
One box with 12 eggs was sadly predated by something, possibly a stoat.
Also, there were four successful great tits' nests producing 28 fledged chicks. One nest even had a second brood.
And finally a pair of pied flycatchers nested, producing five young.
We also had three male pied flycatchers, who had claimed their boxes, and spent weeks calling for a mate, displaying and flitting around quite vigorously, but sadly no females. I saw one chase off a redstart from his claimed box. I did see quite a few redstarts. It would be great if one nested in one of the boxes. I may make a tree-creeper box as there are a few pairs around where the other boxes are sited. I've never seen nuthatches at Brimham Rocks, which seems quite odd as there are lots in the area.
The open-fronted boxes were unsuccessful, as was the owl box, but this was put up quite late. Owls usually pick their nest sites for the following year during the winter months.
The BTO survey is something I've never done before but I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it fascinating.
I was helped throughout by our ranger Andy who footed the ladder and drove me to the more distant boxes, and Mark also showed a keen interest in the monitoring and will hopefully cover for me when I'm away.
I have made most of the boxes on site in the workshops, and constantly have to repair them. Squirrels are always attempting to break into their cosy haven! And some of the boxes just disintegrate.
I am quite proud of the valuable conservation work we are doing here. Brimham Rocks has a varied and diverse number of birds that breed and visit the site not only during the breeding season but also in the winter.