Boat of Garten Wildlife Group
Cresties are tiny, cheeky and rare little birds that live in small numbers in this part of Scotland and nowhere else in the UK. They require old dead trees to burrow into to breed, but very few such trees exist in modern woods so we build nest boxes stuffed with dead wood for them to excavate.
Since 2003 we have been building and distributing these boxes, each year refining our methods to try and achieve better results. In 2003 we raised two families and we were very pleased because it was our first attempt. In 2004 we only managed one family, which was rather disappointing. However, 2005 was our best year so far with four pairs hatching young. A string of bad winters since then have cost the cresties dearly but we persevere with the nest box project and TV programmes such as Springwatch, Natures Calendar and the One Show have all featured our project.
Our goldeneye ducks have also starred on TV. These birds used to be thought of as just winter visitors to Scotland, but have now become a consistent breeding species, mostly due to the large number of nesting boxes that are provided by enthusiasts. Unfortunately the boxes, which are usually mounted on trees, can easily be predated by pine martens with the resulting loss of the eggs. This behaviour was witnessed and photographed in May 2004 from the badger hide and again in May 2006.
RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage are experimenting with sheets of shiny plastic and metal which they wrap around the trees in the hope that they will be too slippery for the pine martens to climb. We in BoG-WiG took the idea a stage further and mounted two boxes directly on top of plastic sewer pipes which have now become known as Bantick Poles, thanks to the Vincent Wildlife Trust, the BBC and others. The ducks took readily to the boxes and the pine martens have so far failed to gain access to them.