As part of National Nest Box Week, organised each year by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Birch Forest Schools ran two nest box making days on behalf of Red Rose Forest. The first on 14th February took place at Nutsford Vale in Gorton, Manchester and the second today at the Meadows site, Salford.
The Vale event was attended by ladies of the “Friends of” group who came out in weather that stayed dry but was quite chilly. They showed remarkable skill in making their boxes, choosing from open fronted or small hole entrance style. The session was marked by a lot of laughing and banter and only the lightest touch was required to make things run smoothly with “what to do” rather than “how to do it” being the norm.
Once the boxes were built, I gamely climbed trees to secure them, choosing wire rather than fixings. The joy in the group was palpable and I fully expect that these boxes will be monitored daily and with great expectation of occupancy in the near future.
Today’s session was all about families. Some of the children were recognisable from our work with The Friars school though this time siblings and parents came along.
Once again the children impressed us with their skill in making. They worked well and safely with tools and carried out a range of tasks including measuring and marking, sawing and nailing. As with the Vale group, they chose to make both types of box and were very excited to see them put into the trees around the Meadows.
If one were to cost out each box, it they would compare less than favourably with ready made boxes from any major DIY store but then the point of the exercise was not to make the boxes as cheaply as possible. On completion of their boxes, the Nutsford Vale group felt confident enough to be able to run the activity themselves at future Vale open days.
The children working on the Meadows used hand saws for the first time, used measuring to mark out their plans, made decisions as to the type of box they would make and where it would be sited, worked together to support each other in using tools.
There were families from different ethnic groups, one of which had only been in the UK for three months, all with young children, some in pushchairs. All of them braved the cold windy weather to engage with their local outdoor space and to work as a community for the betterment of the space. This is something which cannot be bought off of the shelf and is the essence of Community Engagement