“We moved into our home about 30 years ago and from the off it had a pair of House Martins nesting under the eaves, but the nest had fallen down… so I put some nails and cement onto the wall to give a firm base and the following year it worked - we had more House Martins.
Not wanting to put more cement up, I searched around for artificial nests. With no Google at that time, I ended up at the RSPB’S reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire purchasing five plastic ones.
These worked well and after a few years, they were all occupied. So I went to get some more; however, they didn't have them anymore, due to a factory fire. So, in desperation, I made some from flower pots. These were not very pleasing to the eye but the House Martins did not fuss and the colony continued to grow.
By using these ones, in 2011 we had 23 active nests on the house, since then the numbers have increased depending on if they have a good year or not. A good year is one where they arrive early in numbers, have reasonable weather and manage to have two broods. In such years, the number returning the next year can increase by more than 25%. Other years the increase is more modest but has always been over 10%.
This year we had 61 active nests of which 30 went on to have a second brood, the second highest percentage of second broods we have had. With each brood being on average three young, the total number of birds in the colony is getting on for 400.
Although they do not all hang around together since once the first lot of babies have left the nest they are escorted by some of the adults on to Europe and Africa. Although there is often 100 plus flying around before they go to roost at night and during the day there is always a lot of activity”.
Bob's story is a reminder that wildlife can thrive when we go that extra mile and share our space with nature.
Bob kindly agreed to update readers next year with the spring/summer progress as House Martins return from their overseas wintering grounds. He'll be focusing on new nest installations; first arrivals; egg laying and sitting; babies and sharing his tips and insights regarding health and hygiene - specifically, how and when to clean a House Martin nest box.
If you'd like to try and emulate Bob's amazing results we can only echo his words that the Schwegler range of nest boxes are simply the best; they're tough, durable and come with a 25-year guarantee. To see our range click here.